De La Hoya-Mayweather: A Fight That Must Be Good

03.05.07 - By Anthony Coleman: We are right on the eve of the biggest fight in years. On Saturday night Junior Middleweight Champ Oscar De La Hoya and Welterweight Champ Floyd Mayweather will get it on while the whole world watches. This fight has generated a great deal of excitement from not only boxing fans, but the mainstream media. In fact both men are on the cover of this weekís issue of Sport Illustrated and Mayweather snagged the solo cover of ESPN the magazine. Not since Lewis-Tyson has a boxing match generated this much excitement among the casual sports fan, and this is exactly what boxing needs..

Let me just state that Iím not necessarily enthusiastic for this fight. We have two fighters, who on paper, have styles that donít blend well with each other. They are both boxer punchers who like to work from the outside and wait for their opponents to make mistakes. Neither of them are known to consistently pressure-fight like a Julio Cesar Chavez and Iím not confident that either Oscar or Floyd will take the role of the bull for this fight.

Also, to be quite honest, Iím not a fan of either combatant. One guy is 34 and hasnít won a meaningful fight in five years. The other is a guy who spent the last five years padding his record and redefines the word asshole every time he opens his mouth. So to me this fight from a style point and a personality perspective doesnít enthrall me in the least. However, Iím begging for this fight to be a major success because this maybe one of the last times that boxing will be center stage in the world of sports.

As we all know, boxing is now a niche sport and rarely covered by the mainstream media or watched by the casual fan. OK, Iím being totally nice: in reality boxing in the United States is in deep, deep, deep trouble. Very few people actually can name five current top rank fighters and the sport is not creating new stars. In the past while you can count on the sport to produce and Olympic hero like De La Hoya, Evander Holyfield, Sugar Ray Leonard or wrecking machines like Thomas Hearns and Mike Tyson, the fact is we havenít seen a fighter that has come by that has captured the casual sports fanís imagination. Even worse, boxingís popularity is being threatened by Mixed Martial Arts organizations like Ultimate Fighting Championships. In fact, UFC has surpassed boxing in America in terms of popularity.

They have the long term planning, organization, and star-building machine that boxing has lacked in the past fifteen years. Just three weeks ago it was announced by Dana White, the head honcho of UFC, that they had struck a deal with HBO, the top number one provider of boxing. If that doesnít bring a shiver down a boxing fanís back then I donít know what will. Itís a clear sign that HBO isnít one hundred percent committed to boxing and will gladly kick it to the curb for something else (though it must be said that HBO is also responsible for a lot of boxingís current woes). This fight is coming at a crucial time in the sportís history.

This is why for the good of the sport that De La Hoya and Mayweather must put on a good, entertaining fight. It need not be a classic, but it should leave the average sports fan with a smile on their face and not feeling as if they were screwed out of fifty bucks. Boxing is at its most crucial predicament in generations and this fight, if it is a success in the ring will hopefully create new boxing fans. Also, I hate to say this, but it will be ideal if Mayweather wins emphatically. De La Hoyaís career is winding down and he wonít be there to boost the sport in box office receipts and prestige like he did in the past. However, Floyd Mayweather has the brightest chance of any fighter to becoming the next box office superstar of the sport. Heís young and perhaps the most technically gifted boxer in the world today and he is on the worldís stage. This is his grand chance in becoming the superstar he always wanted. However, in the words of Ric Flair, in order for Mayweather to be the man, he must beat the man. This doesnít mean coasting to a boring decision victory like he did against Carlos Baldomir, this means he must look dominant and exciting in victory against the Golden Boy. Mayweather has to make casual sports fans jump out of their seats and say, ďoh shit did you see what Pretty Boy Floyd just did?Ē

As the fight nears I will be hoping and praying for a two things: that both men wonít get injured and new fans will fall in love with this great sport. With a fight that is expected to approach the record non-heavyweight PPV buyrate of De La Hoya-Trinidad, this is a perfect chance for boxing to produce those new fans that have eluded the sport for years. If that happens then we all can be proud.

Article posted on 03.05.2007

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