I don't know how many of our readers out there are boxing fans, but just for the record, I'm a huge fight freak. That's why I was ecstatic when I found out that Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd "Pretty Boy" Mayweather would finally be getting it on.
And then I learned the date: May 5, 2007.
The same day my mom's getting married.
Because I'm her only son, and the guy in charge of giving her away, I guess I can forgo seeing the fight live. But you can bet your last buck there'll be a huge fight party at my new place that night.
This is the Fight of the Century, in terms of both talent and revenue. The purses are currently set at $25 million for De La Hoya and $10 million for Mayweather. The pay-per-view audience is expected to eclipse the record set by Tyson-Holyfield II in 1997. Moreover, the fight may surpass the all-time gross of $112 million set by Tyson-Lewis in 2002.
With a sparkling 37-0 record, Mayweather is undoubtedly at the top of the welterweight division. He's beaten every kind of fighter to come his way, from brawlers like Arturo Gatti to speed merchants like Zab Judah. More impressive is his ability to stay the course; no matter what happens, Mayweather never diverts from his fundamental game plan—which is to absorb as little punishment as possible. And the Pretty Boy packs a pretty mean punch for a man of his size: Of his 37 wins, 24 have come by knockout.
But it's Mayweather's quickness that really sets him apart. Fighters like Gatti have fallen victim to five- and six-punch combinations without even getting a jab off. If speed kills, Floyd is its messenger of death, and his ability to make a man miss is unmatched by anyone. His style and skills are reminiscent of Pernell "Sweet Pea" Whitaker, who dominated the welterweight division in the late 80s and early 90s—but Whitaker could never deliver a blow like Mayweather can.
And then, of course, there's the Golden Boy. Oscar De La Hoya is a patient fighter; he picks his spots and picks them wisely, and you can be sure he won't be galled into fighting at Floyd's blinding pace. If there's anyone who can beat Mayweather, in fact, it's got to be Oscar.
At 38-4 with 30 knockouts, De La Hoya has been around the block and back. He's fought in a slew of weight classes and colleced world titles in all of them. He's beaten legends on their way out (Julio Caesar Chavez) and stars on their way up (Fernando Vargas); he's pulled off late-round heroics when everyone had given him up for dead (against Ike Quartey). He's also suffered some setbacks, including two controversial decision losses to Felix Trinidad and Shane Moseley. A knockout at the hands of Bernard Hopkins in September of 2004 left many insiders—including De La Hoya himself—talking retirement.
But Oscar did eventually return to the ring, and his June 2005 fight against Ricardo Mayorga turned out to be just what the doctor ordered. In fact, that spectacular sixth-round TKO got us to where we are today. The fight with Mayweather may have gone down sooner, but De La Hoya needed time to recover after laying a beat-down on the Nicaraguan Buzzsaw.
In May, look for Oscar to go to the body...A LOT. It's a strategy that Mayweather isn't accustomed to—and if De La Hoya has success with it, he'll be able to neutralize Floyd's speed and pave the way for his own onslaught.
There's also a serious family twist to the fight: Floyd Mayweather Sr. is Oscar's trainer, while Floyd Jr. is trained by his uncle Roger Mayweather. Floyd Sr. was quoted as saying that, despite his strained relationship with Junior, he would never "contribute to the destruction of (his) son as a boxer." That left De La Hoya in the awkward position of having to give his trainer the chance to opt out of the fight, but Senior has declared himself to be on board. Apparently, the elder Mayweather feels an itch to teach Junior a boxing lesson.
Which means that all systems are go for a fight that—if it's as good as advertised—we'll all be talking about for a long, long time. I for one can't wait until May, when the words of fight doctor Ferdie Pacheco will be ringing in my ears:
"You can cut this tension with a knife."
I've just got to cut the wedding cake first.