May 4, 2007


Ring savvy: De La Hoya's legacy: He can mix it up in any circle (Kevin Paul Dupont, May 4, 2007, Boston Globbe)

There is such a reserve and polish to Oscar De La Hoya that it is easy to forget he beats men senseless for a living. In another time, we would have called him an All-American boy, for his good looks, his politeness, and his successes, the latter of which have made him the most recognizable name in boxing and rich enough perhaps to buy a few city blocks of the East Los Angeles neighborhood where he grew up.

As for Floyd Mayweather Jr., De La Hoya's opponent tomorrow night for the World Boxing Council super welterweight championship, he's not caught up in the aura or public perception of the 34-year-old Golden Boy.

"C'mon, man, that's all fake!" said Mayweather, widely acclaimed as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the game, and equally recognized for running his mouth with the same speed he delivers his deft combinations. "That's all rehearsed, man. You want to call him your champion? Someone wants to interview me, it's not rehearsed. That's all rehearsed over there, all fake."

For the better part of the six months since "The World Awaits" bout was booked -- and, in fact, for years leading up to it -- Mayweather has tried to burn down what De La Hoya has built up. Only Mayweather knows what that is truly all about. But De La Hoya, who trained some six-plus years under Mayweather's father, said he has come to believe through conversations with the elder Mayweather that resentment and jealousy are what fuel his opponent's ire.

"Everybody has their humbling moment in life, I don't care who you are," De La Hoya said yesterday in his customary measured, calm tone. "Come May 5th, I hope it's Mayweather's time."

By all accounts, De La Hoya didn't need this fight, and he certainly didn't need, or appreciate, the incessant trash talking Mayweather mouthed his way during the 11-city prefight tour they staged the last few months. Everywhere they went, Mayweather got in De La Hoya's face, called him names, peppered him with pejoratives.

With jaw clenched, and eyes fixed on his opponent's nose, De La Hoya weathered it all, acknowledging only yesterday, in the bowels of MGM Grand Garden Arena, there were times he wanted to get it over with and smack down Mayweather on the spot.

Tomorrow night, he finally gets his chance -- 12 rounds of chances, if it goes the distance.

How do you clench your jaw this hard without biting through the top of your own skull?

Bert Sugar on the fight:

Down for the count: Boxing is fighting the perception that its declining popularity signals its imminent demise. (Steve Springer, May 4, 2007, LA Times)

It might seem curious to ponder the future of a sport that can produce an event such as De La Hoya-Mayweather. Despite a purchase price of $55, the pay-per-view audience is expected to exceed the 1.4 million for De La Hoya-Felix Trinidad in 1999, the record for a non-heavyweight bout, and could challenge the all-time mark of just under 2 million for Mike Tyson-Evander Holyfield II in 1997 and Tyson-Lennox Lewis in 2002.

The 16,500 seats in the MGM Grand Garden Arena, with a top ringside price of $2,000, sold out in three hours, generating $19 million in revenue, surpassing the record $16.8 million for Tyson-Holyfield II. The total revenue from the match, to be seen in 176 countries, is expected to exceed $100 million and could challenge the record $112 million generated by Tyson-Lewis. Also, 15,700 seats for a closed-circuit showing of the fight in Las Vegas have been sold.

This is a sport on the ropes?

Yes, because of:

• The lack of charismatic, impact fighters in the heavyweight division, long the bellwether of the sport. Much has been made of the fact that the major heavyweight figures now are Eastern Europeans. From Max Schmeling to Ingemar Johansson to Lewis, American audiences have warmed to foreign heavyweight champions. But only if they had talent or could generate excitement, two areas in which the current crop is sadly deficient.

• The absence of definitive titles and fights. Nine out of 10 fans attending Saturday night's match probably couldn't tell you what De La Hoya and Mayweather are fighting for (World Boxing Council super-welterweight championship). Nor do they care. The preponderance of alphabet organizations and weight classes has rendered titles relatively meaningless. It's the names of the major fighters that matter now, and too often, they won't fight each other because of disputes over money, television contracts or promoter loyalties.

• The failure to attract a new generation of quality fighters.

"If Muhammad Ali was 17 years old, he'd be a tight end for Louisville High School," promoter Bob Arum said.

Indeed, the appeal of football, basketball and baseball and the uncertainty of a career in the ring has siphoned off much of the talent.

Posted by Orrin Judd at May 4, 2007 7:36 AM

UFC is killing boxing. In 10 years, amature boxing will only exist.

Posted by: pchuck at May 4, 2007 4:21 PM