Pre-Fight Analysis: Rusty Golden Boy vs. Bloody Pretty Boy
03.05.07 - By Zhenyu Li, photos by Naoki Fukuda: If you log onto any boxing news website, you’ll be overwhelmed with numerous toutings and hypes about the upcoming showdown between Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr.. Leaving the rhetoric and drama behind, what I am trying to do here, as an unprejudiced Chinese writer, is to provide our readers with some inside facts and objective analysis about this boxing event so that they can have a better taste of it.
Article posted on 02.05.2007
I've enjoyed reading many of the articles written by my fellow colleagues about this fight. Most of them are professionally written, well documented and thought provoking. But as far as I am concerned, one of the beauties of boxing is that it is not statistic-oriented. The result of a fight is far from totally predicable. On paper it’s one thing, but in real battle, it’s quite another. However, a basic scan of both fighters’ recent histories reveals that can only be interpreted as a clear advantage for Mayweather..
In the last three years, "The Golden Boy", whose commitment to his promotional company has taken priority to his boxing endeavors, has just fought three times with only one actual win added to his accolade – his decision over the then WBO middleweight champion Felix Sturm is widely regarded as a “business decision”. In sharp contrast, “The Pretty Boy” has cruised to a six straight imposing victory.
After the second loss to Shane Mosley, De La Hoya moved up in weight to challenge the WBO middleweight titlist Felix Sturm in the hope of landing a super fight with the middleweight king Bernard Hopkins. Looking soft and slow, De La Hoya wound up winning against the more effective and solid Sturm.
Three months later, looking a little better conditioned this time, De La Hoya managed to trade leathers with the notorious “Executioner” and had his moment occasionally before brutally executed by Hopkins in the ninth with a searing left hook to his rib. This was the first and only time the six-division world champion was stopped inside the ring during his illustrious professional career. Although De La Hoya appeared to be better shaped, he had always been a fast starter, whereas Hopkins had always been a cruel finisher.
The only telling story De La Hoya wrote during the last three years is his epic battle against WBC junior middleweight titleholder Ricardo Mayorga. Coming off from a 20-month layoff, which is the longest period of his inactivity, De La Hoya came up strong, flooring the "El Matador" three times in six rounds and starting a new chapter in his declining career. Did it demonstrate that De La Hoya had much left in the tank? Probably not. Yes, Mayorga was a sturdy brawler who had a combination of good chin and punching power. But he has always been inconsistent. He had a sloppy defence, which made him an easy target to hit. That’s why Felix Trinidad elected Mayorga as his first opponent when he came back from a two-year layoff. That’s why a worn-out Fernando Vargas, humiliated back to back by Shane Mosley, was trying to land a fight with the Nicaraguan to redeem his pride. As it turns out, Mayorga becomes the perfect opponent for building confidence.
Let’s look at another boy, the “Pretty Boy”, the pretty golden record, a 6-0 record. These six fights includes such big names as Arturo Gatti, Zab Judah and Carlos Manuel Baldomir, each held at least one title before meeting with Mayweather.
Through those fights, we saw in him a rapid-fire combination artist with all the lethal weapons in his arsenal, searing hooks, harsh uppercuts, bolo punches, flashy overhands just to name a few. He showed tremendous boxing abilities that literally seemed uncanny when he pounded the overmatched New Jersey hero Arturo Gatti into mincemeat. He exhibited almost a flawless defence against an incredibly talented Zab Judah. His great athleticism, unparalleled hand speed and sensational footwork were fully shown at the 147-pound limit as he dominated the bigger, stronger WBC welterweight champion in a one-sided fight. Just turned 30 two months ago, Floyd Mayweather was the entire package.
A rusty Golden Boy takes on a bloody Pretty Boy, whom would you pick?
Note: Oscar De La Hoya is one of the most respected figures inside and outside the ring. He has all the quality that I admire. The analysis above is purely based on facts, no personal bias. What I am hoping for actually is that he scores a devastating knockout over Mayweather. But to be a good boxing analyst, you have to separate your own feelings from objective arguments. I hope I am proved wrong.
By Zhenyu Li, senior writer for People’s Daily online. He can be reached at email@example.com.
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