The Fight Breakdown: De La Hoya v. Mayweather
02.05.07 - By Yero Moody, photo by Naoki Fukuda: It has been 20 years since the anticipation of a mega-fight has reached such epic proportions as this fight, not since Hagler v. Leonard. The four-part reality TV series 24/7 aired by HBO has been magnificent and is serving its purpose to hype this fight very well. I've personally enjoyed getting a more personalized glimpse into both fighters lives as they prepare for this career defining fight. From the casual boxing fan to the most hardcore boxing fan, The World Awaits.
Article posted on 02.05.2007
I've also enjoyed reading the many, many articles my colleagues have written about this fight. Some have been very well thought out and unbiased while others seem to be based on personal dislike/like of either fighter. I'm quite sure I've been lumped into the latter category many times. However, I can assure you, the readers, that I really like both fighters. Both possess qualities that I admire..
De La Hoya exudes professionalism both inside and outside the ring and his business acumen is unrivaled by any fighter. Mayweather exhibits boxing abilities that literally seem uncanny at times. He is a master craftsman. His work ethic and training regiment are unparalleled by any fighter in the sport. De La Hoya has taken on the best fighters in the world which includes two former pound for pound best fighters in the sport; Pernell Whitaker and Bernard Hopkins and now he is taking on the current pound for pound best fighter in the world. No fighter in the sport has a fighting resume to rival Oscar's. To be a good sports analyst and writer you have to be able to separate your personal feelings from your objective opinion. This fight breakdown that I present before you is based on my objective, unbiased opinion and my appreciation of what both fighters have brought to the sport. When I look back on the career of Oscar De La Hoya I see certain facts that jump out. He was never considered to be the best pound for pound fighter in the world at any point in his career despite boasting of an incredible fight resume and tremendous skills. Why was that? Mayweather despite not having won a Gold medal in the Olympics, nor having a fight record in the same league as Oscar's and not having the tremendous following that Oscar has is considered the pound for pound best fighter in the sport.
Why is that?
The answer to both questions and perhaps the deciding factor in the fight is quite simple, Mayweather is a better boxer! I know I've ruffled quite a few feathers with that statement so I'll repeat it so it can sink in. Mayweather is a better boxer!
Oscar has the size advantage, the power advantage so it seems, and the vast experience in major fights, an advantage without question. Many of his detractors and proponents state that his age is his key disadvantage, age 34. I personally have not noticed De La Hoya showing any signs of slipping. I see a fighter in De La Hoya who made bad decisions which caused him to lose such as fighting at middleweight. Prior to him making such an unwise decision he had just given Shane Mosley the fight of his life and in my opinion he got a bad decision. If these are the signs of an old fighter I'm quite sure there are alot of fighters who'd love to hurry up and get "old." Never in Oscar's career has he placed such demands on an opponent as is now the case with Mayweather. He demanded Reyes gloves, a smaller ring size, chose the venue and Mayweather coming up to his weight class or there would be no fight. De La Hoya's many proponents state that he did this to offset the age advantage that Mayweather has. I say that's bull! He actually moved up in weight and fought Felix Sturm who is two years younger than Mayweather. To get a better understanding of why De La Hoya has placed such demands on Mayweather let's examine the elements that brought this fight together. For several years it's been Mayweather calling for a fight with De La Hoya. Many observers watched carefully as Oscar seemed to offer one excuse after another. First it was the fact that he would not benefit by fighting Mayweather because if he beat Mayweather the critics would say he was the bigger man and he should have won anyway. Then as Mayweather rapidly moved up in weight the excuse from Oscar changed to the fact that he didn't want to come between family referring to Floyd,Sr. being his trainer at the time and Floyd,Sr. was adamant at the time that he would not train Oscar to beat his son. However, Floyd,Sr. changed his tune and gave his okay for Oscar to fight his son and said he would train him to do so. Oscar then makes an announcement that he would fight one more fight before retiring so he made an unsuccessful attempt to woo Felix Trinidad from retirement. He placed himself in an awkward dilemma with no Trinidad to fight and needing a major fight with someone close to his weight class. He then and only then chose Mayweather,Jr. He cleverly made another announcement that this would not be his last fight before placing all those demands on Mayweather. Why would he change his mind about retiring and then place those demands on Mayweather? The answer again is simple. De La Hoya knows that Mayweather is a better boxer than he is! Plain and simple. Make no mistake about it, Mayweather's age had absolutely nothing to do with it. If age was the factor, as I pointed out earlier he would never have moved up in weight to fight a younger, stronger fighter in Felix Sturm. He didn't think Sturm posed the threat that he did. He knows what he's dealing with in Mayweather. Oscar wanted to throw yet another wrangle in the mix hoping Mayweather would say no to all of his demands thus giving him a legitimate excuse this time rather than the bull crap excuses he was giving before. I firmly believe that if Trinidad would have agreed to fight De La Hoya that De La Hoya would have ridden off into the sunset and retired. He changed his mind about retiring when he decided to fight Mayweather. He doesn't want to retire with his last fight possibly being a loss.
I've written several articles in which I've given my prediction on this fight and I still stand by my prediction that Mayweather will win. As I watched both fighters and observed their behaviors its clear to me that Oscar did everything in his power to avoid fighting Mayweather. The only reason he's fighting Mayweather is due to not being able to fight Trinidad. A fighter needs to have the mental edge to win a fight. It's impossible to have that edge if you really don't want to fight. Oscar is a warrior in the ring and I truly believe that it is not based on fear that he really didn't want to fight Mayweather it is based more on the fact that deep down he doubts his ability to beat Mayweather. Mayweather wants it more and has been after Oscar for years.
Now lets get down to the nitty gritty and how this fight will play out on May 5. Many people including Freddie Roach and De La Hoya are doubting Mayweather's power. I've seen Mayweather recently and he is ripped and solid. Mayweather pays attention to what the critics say about him and he takes it to heart. When people were saying that he really didn't beat Castillo in their first fight he took time off, healed his injury, stood in the pocket and beat Castillo soundly in their rematch. No pot shotting, no dancing, just pure infighting. I laugh when I hear the rants of Mayweather critics who call Mayweather a runner especially when no one said it prior to his fight with Baldomir. When Mayweather failed to deliver a knockout as he predicted and didn't stand toe to toe with the much bigger man he was called a runner. These are the critics who want to see Mayweather fight in a brawling fashion. That's the equivalent of demanding Mugsy Bogues to guard Shaquille O'Neal. It's simply not his style. Even in his knockout victories over Angel Manfredy, Diego Corrales and Arturro Gatti he didn't brawl with them. He simply outboxed them. He beat them to the punch, landed effective counter punches and thoroughly dominated them. De La Hoya, however, is a different level of fighter who has only been knocked out once in his career by a bigger man, Bernard Hopkins. Roach has De La Hoya working on a more aggressive offense hoping that can frustrate and offset Mayweather's offense. It is a brilliant strategy and given De La Hoya's stiff upper body movements it is his only hope. My prediction is the very thing De La Hoya is overlooking will be his downfall. He picked the Reyes gloves thinking that they could possibly hurt Mayweather's hands and play into his assumed power punching advantage. Those very Reyes gloves are going to put Oscar on his ass. I believe Mayweather will be effectively aggressive in a manner many are not thinking possible. His power and speed will thoroughly dominate and surprise De La Hoya. Mayweather has the best defense in the sport right now in which he will utilize to counter punch De La Hoya mercilessly. He will be knocked down several times before the referee calls it off. My prediction goes against what most boxing insiders even fathom as a possibility but on May 5 the world will be stunned. I'm prepared to hear from angry De La Hoya fans that my prediction is biased and ridiculous but I'm a De La Hoya fan as well. I think Oscar stands for what is good for boxing and some of Floyd's antics outside the ring are disgusting and offensive.
Oscar will no doubt fight another fighter on the level of Ricardo Mayorga to guarantee a victory for his fans and retire. I will be there to bid him farewell. Mayweather will lay low for a few months and Mosley v. Mayweather will be the next mega fight. Stay tuned for my breakdown of that fight and thank you for reading.
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