No need or time for any vacillation, ambivalence or ambiguity, as the time has come for me to breakdown Saturday night’s mega fight between ‘The Golden Boy’ Oscar De La Hoya and ‘Pretty Boy’ Floyd Mayweather at the MGM Grand here in the Mecca of Pugilism, Las Vegas, Nevada.
Here we go. First off statistically Oscar will have the height and slight reach advantage and of course he is four years the senior of Floyd. As for the offense of these two, let’s start with the Jab; advantage De La Hoya. Oscar possesses a very good stiff jab, he also throws a nice up jab from a crouched position at time, but for the most part he will be punching down a few inches Saturday night. I actually think this will be the most important punch for Oscar against Mayweather as the jab can nullify some of the speed and timing of Floyd and keep him from getting into his groove and it will set up everything for Oscar. Mayweather has a good jab himself, no surprise as he is the best pound for pound fighter in the world and to be that you must have a very good stick. If Mayweather dominates the jab department the fight is his.
Right hand; advantage Floyd. He has a laser right hand and we have seen him throw as many as 5 or 6 consecutive. He won’t be able to do that with Oscar. De La Hoya has improved his right hand at this late stage of his career. He really throws a very nice right to the solar plexus as well.
Left hook; big advantage Oscar. This is and has always been his most lethal weapon. He simply has that uncommon power with his left hook and if Oscar is able to get a knockout in this one you can be sure that his signature punch, that left hook, will be a major factor.
Combination punching; this one is interesting. I actually think De La Hoya has the advantage here as well. Floyd is able to throw some blistering combos but he relies more on speed punching than combination punching. Oscar can and will need to throw a lot of combinations to the head and body to win this one.
Body punching; both are good Oscar is better; after all he is half Mexican.
Defense goes hands down to Floyd as he is one of the best at D in the business. Only Winky Wright is better. Floyd has tremendous reflexes and his defensive posture leaves very little to hit. He is phenomenal at slipping, sliding, parrying, rolling, and head movement. He is old school in regards to defense.
So what’s left? Reflexes and Speed go gloves down to Pretty Boy. Punching Power goes to Oscar. Strength also goes to Oscar as he is the bigger and stronger man. Chin, well we know Oscar has been down, but only stopped due to a body blow from Bernard Hopkins. Oscar has a good chin. We really don’t know for sure about Floyd but I have to believe he has a sturdy beard, and he stays in such unbelievable condition that will carry him through if he is hurt in a fight. Floyd also has not been in any wars and is a very fresh fighter. Stamina I would give the edge to Floyd, as Oscar has shown fatigue at times down the stretch. Bottom line is both fighters have some advantages over the other and neither fighter has any glaring weaknesses, as they are both splendid athletes.
What about possibly the most important intangible any great fighter has, it’s that thing you can’t see called heart. Some, including yours truly, have questioned Oscar’s heart. You know where I’m going with this. The way Oscar gave away the Felix Trinidad fight the last 3 rounds running from Tito and also many believe Oscar could have gotten off the deck when he was stopped in round 9 from a body shot by Bernard Hopkins. Floyd has really never been severely put to the ticker test. You know what? I feel both will show great heart and courage come Saturday night.
In terms of what both fighters bring upstairs in being able to think while in the heat of battle, they both are very cerebral fighters.
As for finishing the job, and closing the show when they have their opponent in trouble, that edge goes to Oscar, he is very good at getting his opponents against the ropes and punching with both hands until the referee comes to stop the fights ala the Fernando Vargas and Ricardo Mayorga fights, and he nearly stopped Quartey the same way in the final round of their fight.
Experience is not a factor as both Oscar and Floyd started fighting as kids and both were great amateurs, Oscar an Olympic Gold Medalist. Level of competition goes easily to De La Hoya whose boxing resume reads like a who’s who. Julio Cesar Chavez twice, Hector Macho Camacho, Pernell ‘Sweat Pea’ Whitaker, Ike Quartey, Felix ‘Tito’ Trinidad, ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley Twice, Fernando Vargas, Bernard Hopkins. No comparison there.
I was trying to figure out any past fight to compare this one to in terms of how I think the fight may play itself out and the one that came to my mind last night was that classic first fight between Julio Cesar Chavez and Meldrick Taylor in June of 1990 at the Las Vegas Hilton. What a fight that was. Taylor went into that fight unbeaten, as was Chavez at the time. He was the younger, faster and quicker of the two and it showed especially early on in the fight. Chavez just could not match the speed and quickness of Taylor and fell behind early in the fight. But Chavez being the Mexican warrior that he was kept on pressing forward and he basically took what Taylor gave him. Chavez banged whatever part of Meldrick he could. Slowly but surely he crept back into the fight as he began to break down Taylor with power body punches and power punches to the head. It was tough for Julio to land many combinations but he hit whatever he could and was the aggressor.
It finally paid off in the final few rounds. Yes, he was aided by Richard Steele stopping the fight with only seconds to go. But looking back now, and look at the fighters today. Chavez really beat up Taylor over the course of the nearly 47 minutes and 50 seconds the fight lasted. Let’s hope this one can match that one in terms of the intensity and skills both fighters displayed that night in Vegas.
Unlike Chavez who really had to win by stopping Taylor late, I really think Oscar has more ways to win this fight than does Floyd. I believe Oscar can be an effective, aggressive, physical boxer-puncher and win a decision in this fight. And I believe De La Hoya does have the power to win by a stoppage, but he must put in the really hard work early and often. Oscar is going to have to do something in this fight that he has not always had to do and that is commit, and I mean really commit when he throws his punches and combinations. I believe he will in this one. He is not going to be intimidated by Floyd’s physical prowess. Floyd is not puncher like Trinidad or Hopkins and he is not nearly as strong as Mosley. I also believe Oscar wants this one worse than any other fight. Although he has already cemented his place in boxing history, this will elevate his already lofty status.
Oscar has been kind to me from a picking winner and loser standpoint. Every time I picked against him he lost, every time I have picked him to win he has done so. I even had the exact round, 9 when he was stopped by Hopkins. Does this mean the law of averages is now against me. Just like ‘The Golden Boy’ really wants this one well so does Floyd, and he has a chip on his shoulder about Oscar always getting way more limelight than he. When all is said and done, the limelight or better yet the spotlight may be Mayweather's downfall as nobody has more experience than Oscar in handling boxings biggest and brightest lights as Saturday night will be at the MGM Grand.
Conventional boxing wisdom says take the younger, unbeaten, quicker, faster pound for pound best fighter and choose Pretty Boy Floyd. However sometimes when two great fighters get inside the squared circle, well you can throw that conventional wisdom right outside of the squared circle and that is what I am doing. There are only a select few in boxing whom I really respect enough to care about their feelings about a fight. One of them is my close friend, and very good boxing trainer, John Russell. John, right or wrong like me, never vacillated on this fight. From day one he chose the same way I have. My pick De La Hoya wins. No matter who wins, it is a winner for the sport of boxing. Enjoy ‘The Golden Boy’ Oscar De La Hoya vs ‘Pretty Boy’ Floyd Mayweather; it should be a night and a fight to remember.