Saturday, May 5, 2007

The World is waiting..... and praying

I haven’t been a boxing fan for my entire life. Much like I haven’t been a hockey fan or football fan for my entire life. The only sport that I can really say that I’ve followed from childhood would be baseball. It’s been there my entire life – ever since I was young American playing tee-ball in Germany.

One might say that baseball has been the constant companion in my life, kind of like the girl that you would marry. Good looking, fun, smart and sensible that would be baseball. Boxing on the other hand would be the crazy ex-girlfriend that you had a fling with during college that randomly appears in your life from time to time.

You don’t trust her, you know she’s bad for you and that it won’t work out. Yet for some reason, even though you know it’s going to end badly, you buy her a drink and give her one more chance. Well get you wallet open ‘cause here she’s back – and “The World Awaits”.

It’s Oscar De La Hoya and it’s Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last month than you know they’re fighting this Saturday in Las Vegas. It’s the Pretty Boy versus the Golden Boy and for the sake of boxing it better live up to the hype.

Never before has a fight had so much riding on it. Multi-city press tours and a semi-reality series on HBO are just two of the promotion gimmicks that have been thrown at sports fans in the last few months. With the decay of the pride of boxing – the heavyweight division – and the rise of Pride/IFC/ Mixed Martial Arts the boxing world needs this fight to be a success.

According to Oscar and Golden Boy Productions the fight should shatter records for most pay per view subscriptions. The number they are throwing around is 2 million subscribers. At $54.95 that’s a hefty amount of money coming in. So what would make the fight a success?

Simply put – a good, exciting fight with an honest decision. It doesn’t seem that hard to do does it? However, with the state of boxing these days you never know what might happen. The good news is that Don King isn’t involved.

With all the hype about this being the fight that may save boxing it’s easy to forget that the actual fight could prove entertaining. Two of the biggest stars are set to face each other and they both have drastically different styles of fighting.

The battle inside the squared circle is going to put the unmatched athleticism of Mayweather against the guile of the slugger De La Hoya. For Oscar to have a chance he’s going to have cut the ring off and force the slick Mayweather to stand toe to toe with him. Pretty Boy has no intention of doing that.

Mayweather is going to use his phenomenal conditioning to move around the ring and avoid the power of De La Hoya. His game plan is to score and scamper. It might not be the most courageous way to fight and it’s probably why Floyd enjoys less fame than his ego desires, bit it’s also the reason he’s undefeated and regarded as the best pound for pound boxer in the sport.

He hasn’t faced a boxer yet that has the finishing power of the golden boy from California. Of course De La Hoya has to catch him before he can hurt him and that may cause a problem. There are some predicting a quick victory for Mayweather (I’m looking right at you Big Mike!) but they are discounting Oscar’s pride.

I fully expect De La Hoya to be spouting blood like an extra from “300”, but Mayweather has spent the last few months hurling every insult in the book at the pride of Mexican-Americans across the country. That’s good enough in my book to make the 34 year old a dangerous commodity in this fight.

Watching and reading all the pre fight hype hasn’t helped determine who’s taking this fight more serious. For all of the crazy antics and distractions happening in the Mayweather camp there are equal stories about De La Hoya and his role as boxer / promoter. It seems that most of the articles written about De La Hoya building up to the match are about him transitioning to the role of promoter rather than boxer. It makes you wonder on where his focus is the fight or the financial success of the fight.

While the preoccupation with his promotion is understanding given his age (34) and recent performance (2 losses in his last 4 fights) people seem to forget he’s still looking to cement his legacy as one of the all time greats in the ring. If he can legitimately defeat the loud mouth “brat” from Las Vegas he does a lot to shut up his critics who say he hasn’t had a real fight in years.

From the Mayweather side this is the career defining fight that he has searched for to silence his detractors. Long hyped as the best pound for pound boxer in the sport his unblemished record hasn’t led to the type of fame he needs. If it’s out of the ring excursions (domestic violence charges, assault charges, brash talk) or his win on points style of boxing that has led those to question the validity of his career he know has the fight to prove the naysayers wrong.

Personally I think Mayweather has too much speed and skill for the lumbering De La Hoya I don’t think the flamboyant youngster (30) has enough power to knock out the legend. I say Mayweather by decision.

Whatever the outcome the world will be watching and for the sake of the sport of kings – it better like what it sees.

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