By Chris Le
Even against the best fighter of his era, it was business as usual for Floyd Mayweather. In what could possibly be the highest grossing fight of all-time, Mayweather (38-0 with 24 KOs) won a split decision over the former junior middleweight champion, Oscar De La Hoya (38-5 with 30 KOs).
Judges Chuck Giampa and Jerry Roth scored the bout in favor of Mayweather 116-112 and 115-113, respectively, while Judge Tom Kaczmarek had De La Hoya winning 115-113.
I don’t know what fight Kaczmarek was watching, but the one I saw featured Oscar applying unproductive pressure, resulting in little more than swats at the air. To my eyes, Mayweather fought a masterful though extremely timid fight, dissecting De La Hoya with exceedingly quick and accurate mid-range punches. He simply controlled the fight with his ring generalship, knowing exactly when and where to attack while keeping the Mexican-American at the end of his jab.
And, as usual, the “Pretty Boy’s” defense was stellar. The majority of De La Hoya’s flurries while the challenger was on the ropes—which produced frenzied cheers from the partisan crowd—were either blocked or parried. With Mayweather in this typically vulnerable position and De La Hoya frantically swinging punches, it may have appeared that Oscar was landing, but Floyd is a virtuoso when it comes to rolling with an opponent’s punches.
I must admit though, Mayweather wasn’t as aggressive offensively, as I and the millions of those that watched the fight had hoped, which resulted in a less than exhilarating bout. Yet, I can’t blame Floyd for anything since it’s just how he fights. He frustrates his opponents with potshots and then proceeds to move, throwing combinations in rare instances. But who honestly expected, no matter how hard they wished, Mayweather to slug it out, to play right into the hands of De La Hoya? Regardless of what anyone says, Floyd fought the fight he needed to fight.
Give De La Hoya credit for pressing and thus making the fight, as he made sure it would be an uncomfortable night for Floyd, no matter what the new champion says — “It was one of my easiest fights.” When Oscar was jabbing, he was in control, often snapping his opponent’s head back with authority. But what was puzzling was why he abandoned it in the middle of the fight; his jab just disappeared all of a sudden. And in the championship rounds, De La Hoya, perhaps the result of fatigue, lost all of his aggression, appearing to be momentarily confused or content to allow Mayweather to tee-off on him in the center of the ring. This should’ve been where trainer Freddie Roach came in and adjusted his fighter’s game plan. I can see how some would score the first few rounds in Oscar’s favor, but he lost this fight in these latter rounds.
But it appears that my opinion is not without opposition. Much of the media and many in the crowd with which I saw the fight thought the bout to be relatively close, some even asserting that De La Hoya should have been awarded the decision. This just lends to the subjectivity of boxing and its amorphous scoring. Some prefer the attacker; others choose effective and clean punches. There is no definite rule in determining which fighter won a particular round, and it’s especially difficult for a chess match of contrasting styles such as De La Hoya-Mayweather, in which neither fighter was hurt in the least bit.
This apparent disagreement as to who won the fight among those who watched may be a good thing though. Hopefully, this discussion renews an interest in the sport, but one thing is for sure, there will be demands for a rematch. Such an event could possibly exceed the revenue of Saturday night. Mayweather, who says he is retired, and De La Hoya, unsure of his future, will not be able to resist all that money. Moreover, Mayweather, 30, is too young to hang up his gloves; he is still at the peak of his game and I have a feeling he will want to silence those who believe De La Hoya deserved the decision. There is a chance for him to enhance is already legendary legacy, and someone as arrogant and greedy as Mayweather is incapable of disregarding the lure of such fortune and fame.
In the end, the fight was good for boxing. For the sake of definitiveness and of the sport itself, let’s do it one more time.
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