De La Hoya-Mayweather: Building on the Hype

07.05.07 - By David J. Kozlowski: There was a lot of build-up for the Oscar De La Hoya/Floyd Mayweather fight. While it may not have lived up to some people’s billing of “the fight to save boxing,” it did provide some insight, and a potential opportunity to really build the fan-base. We learned Mayweather is still the best pound-for-pound boxer on the planet, but he is no longer unbeatable. Unbeaten, yes, but not unbeatable. Floyd in no way wanted to trade with Oscar. Oscar was able to pin him against the ropes and deliver hard lefts to the body. Yes, Mayweather was accurate, but early in the fight, Oscar shocked “Pretty Boy” by walking through punches and throwing back, where most fighters do not let their hands go for fear of Mayweather’s right. Oscar simply tired down the stretch; consensus says he lost 5 of the last 6 frames. Had Oscar been able to press Mayweather more, he could have come away with a victory.

mayweatherSo who can use the information learned about Floyd’s kryptonite best? A lot of people are looking for a fight with Cotto. We need to see what he does against “Super” Zab first (who some people think is, when at his best, at least as fast as Floyd). Others are clamoring for a Mosley fight. Mosley is faster than Oscar but not as fast as Floyd. People say he is stronger, but is he? Do you know how many KO’s he has since moving to 154? Two—both over a deflated Fernando Vargas. He has also lost twice to the defensive-minded Winky Wright, for what it’s worth.

Instead, I am pulling for Mayweather to take on Ricky Hatton. The big argument against it is they are two weight classes apart. However, even though Floyd fought Oscar at 154, he came in at an exaggerated 150. For his previous three fights, he weighed-in at 146 twice and 147. Hatton’s last three weights were 139, 147, and 139½.

Of all people, Vince Phillips shows us this could be a good fight. In 2003, fighting an admittedly old Phillips, Hatton was absolutely vicious to the body when he had Phillips on the ropes. While Mayweather and Phillips are in different leagues based on skill level, Hatton has proven he can beat someone with quick hands by walking through punches, as when he took Kostya Tszyu’s title. If he beats Jose Luis Castillo next month, he will prove the Tszyu win was no fluke, and that he belongs in the pound-for-pound conversation.

Also, the hype for the fight could prove huge. A lot of casual fans are now familiar with Mayweather. Many see him as a thug and boxing’s wrestling equivalent to a “bad guy.” Hatton is the direct antithesis—he is loved in the UK, and he comes off as the kind of guy one wants to meet in the pub for a few pints. He has yet to build a huge United States following outside of the boxing community, but he could. He would come into a fight against Mayweather as an underdog, which Americans love. He is likeable, has a blue-collar aura, and seems like an alright guy. Not to mention, he is undefeated.

Okay, Floyd said he is retiring, which is fine. But, if HBO’s well done fight-hype show 24/7 implied anything, it is that Floyd might have gambling issues. What happens if his finances run low and he is forced to either make a lifestyle change or fight? The smart money is on his returning to the ring. That could put him on a collision course with Hatton. In a sport that desperately needs younger stars, Hatton is something of a beacon of hope (although he not quite a “young” star). De La Hoya vs. Mayweather may have resurrected boxing in America, but an undefeated Mayweather vs. an undefeated Hatton could make it thrive again.

Article posted on 08.05.2007

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