A Look Back At “The Saviors of Boxing” - De La Hoya vs. Mayweather

floyd mayweather jr13.08.07 - By Steven Shabo: It was billed as “The Fight To Save Boxing.” It promised to be the defining fight of both fighters’ illustrious careers. It promised to generate excitement for a sport known for letdowns and disappointments. In short, it promised everything. But now that it’s over and done with, one must ask, did Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather actually save boxing? Was the highest grossing bout in boxing history even a good fight? Are De La Hoya and Mayweather really great fighters? Or was the public hustled into thinking they witnessed two legends giving the fans one for the ages?

Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather are without question, dominant fighters of their eras, but neither comes close as great fighters in the historical sense.

With Mayweather scheduled for a mega fight with Ricky Hatton in December and De La Hoya announcing that he’d like two more huge paydays in 2008, the two most overrated fighters in boxing will continue their hustle of history. Maybe a closer look at the careers of both boxers can help expose this fraud.

Oscar De La Hoya has won titles in six weight classes while Floyd Mayweather has won titles in five. However, these days there are at least four reputable belts (WBA, WBC, IBF, and WBO) in each weight division and one must also consider the overall opposition of both boxers.

De La Hoya decisioned Jimmy Bredahl for the super featherweight title. He knocked out the smaller Jorge Paez for the lightweight crown. He defended that title six times against some rather ordinary opponents such as John John Molina, Rafael Ruelas, Genaro Hernandez, and Jesse James Leja. De La Hoya then won the light welterweight title by stopping a washed up Julio Cesar Chavez. He quickly went on to win the welterweight title with a controversial decision against a past-his-prime Pernell Whitaker. Some of his notable defenses of that title were against the cowardly Hector Camacho, the washed-up Julio Cesar Chavez again, and the overrated Ike Quartey. De La Hoya won the light middleweight crown by boring decision over the feather fisted Javier Castillejo and then went on to defeat a faded Fernando Vargas and the not-so-great Yori Boy Campus. And finally, Oscar was given a gift decision over the lightly regarded Felix Sturm for his pitiful middleweight title victory. On the flip side, De La Hoya lost to Felix Trinidad, twice to Shane Mosley, and to Bernard Hopkins by a shocking body punch knockout. One could argue that De La Hoya never truly defeated a great fighter in his career and that every true challenge he ever faced, he’s failed with flying colors.

On the other hand, Mayweather won the super featherweight crown by stopping Genaro Hernandez. Some of his notable defenses of that title were against Angel Manfredy, Justin Juuko, a weight drained Diego Corrales, and the durable Jesus Chavez. Mayweather narrowly won the lightweight title by decision over Jose Luis Castillo. He defeated Castillo in a rematch and eventually went on to win the light welterweight championship with a massacre over the sentimental fan favorite Arturo Gatti. Floyd recently won the welterweight crown by decision over the erratic Zab Judah.
When you look at these fighters’ careers from this perspective, you’ll see that neither Oscar De La Hoya nor Floyd Mayweather ever truly defeated a great fighter over the span of their careers. Yet, both these boxers are considered by many to be two of the all-time greats. Think about it, does De La Hoya beat Sugar Ray Leonard, Thomas Hearns, Roberto Duran, Wilfred Benitez, Mike McCallum, or a Terry Norris or John Mugabi in their primes? If De La Hoya didn’t have his movie star good looks, would he have millions of dollars or hold the legendary status he now possesses. Does Floyd Mayweather beat Alexis Arguello, Edwin Rosario, Pernell Whitaker, Julio Cesar Chavez, or Aaron Pryor? The fact that Mayweather barely beat an aged De La Hoya who hadn’t fought in a year speaks volumes.

Boxing will always be a hustler’s game. De La Hoya and Mayweather arguably pulled the greatest rip off in boxing history. However, in the end, the fans are entitled to think whatever they want. But when the title of “great” is given to the undeserved, it is a travesty to the true legends of the sport. Boxing has always been a brutal business. A great fighter may sadly be forgotten while a lesser fighter is remembered forever. A hustler can always steal a moment in time. But history is something else. History belongs to no one. It simply “is” which is why it can never be stolen. Not even by the “saviors of boxing.”

Article posted on 13.08.2007

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