Part Six: Strategy
By Greg Goodrich
Boxing Press Editor
On May 5, 2007, Oscar de la Hoya (38-4) will defend his World WBC Jr. Middleweight title against reigning pound for pound kingpin and defending World WBC Welterweight Champion Floyd Mayweather, Jr. (37-0). This historic bout captioned ‘The World Awaits’ is scheduled for 12 rounds, and will be held at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.
In an ongoing series, Boxing Press Editor in Chief Greg Goodrich breaks down the classic bout, providing both expert analysis and in depth reporting of all the fight particulars.
Two phrases describe the boxing ability of Floyd Mayweather, Jr.- offensively bedazzling and defensively bamboozling. Two words depict the fighting style of Oscar de la Hoya-counter aggressiveness.
This bout holds a great pendulum that can easily be swung either way: either a dominant, technical win on points by Mayweather: or a systematic breaking down and technical stoppage victory by de la Hoya.
We arrive at a juncture in this bout where Oscar must recognize the fact that the third man in the ring is Kenny Bayless, who is working his 339th professional bout as a referee. If the name does not sound familiar, allow me to point out that it was Bayless who refereed Oscar’s most painful and embarrassing 9th round KO defeat at the hands of Bernard Hopkins. That one particular instance is the only time that Bayless has refereed a fight involving De La Hoya. He also oversaw the Floyd Mayweather, Jr. victory over Roberto Apodaca (Floyd’s first professional bout ending in a second round TKO).
All of that means nothing spectacular, other than Bayless tends to let fighters hug and hold a lot, and rarely stops bouts early. That much is a good sign for both fighters, as they will need time, opportunity and lots of effort to land damaging punches to stop the other fighter.
Mayweather likely will be coached by his uncle and long time trainer Roger May-weather, with adviser and friend Leonard Ellerbe as chief second. I suspect Floyd’s father will be near ringside, constantly shouting instructions, and shadow boxing in hopes of getting his son’s attention. Even if he is in the same corner as his estranged brother Roger, Floyd, Sr. and Floyd, Jr. are likely to argue and further exacerbate the issues at hand. Nothing good will come of him pushing Floyd, Jr. to be more defensive, and Roger pointing him in the regular offensive scheme of things.
All of this is good news for team De La Hoya. All Oscar has to do is fight hard, use a solid right cross each time that Floyd throws a left hand, and then time his right counters, hopefully connecting with a left hook. Yep, one punch, many jabs, hard crosses, a massive left hook, and sharp, pounding right crosses and it is good night Irene. If only it were that easy to hit May-weather, Jr. and to not be hit in return!
Word out of the De La Hoya camp was that Oscar more than held his own against Mosley and looked sharper than he has in many years. Shane had promised to do his part as a sparring partner and not to try to win. All of my sources indicate that their sparring sessions were rounds 25 through 100, many they picked right up where they left off in their two tightly contested bouts.
Having a fighter- no change that to champion- in ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley as Oscar’s chief training, sparring partner is nothing but 100% good for his chances in this fight. It doesn’t matter who Floyd sparred against, they weren’t, aren’t and don’t make the same difference as a fighter of Mosley’s caliber. Oscar’s one year inactivity should not be as pronounced of a disadvantage as otherwise indicated under normal circumstances.
When Mayweather moves about, he will hold the distinct advantage. Thus, De La Hoya must use leverage, length and hold the pace to force May-weather to take chances.
What De La Hoya does not need- or want- is a tactical boxing bout with Mayweather, who is quicker, faster, younger, and better. If Oscar fights Floyd with a dash of effective aggressiveness and mix it with some ring generalship he wins, hands down.
Mayweather has no doubt already been told by all of his corner men that he is faster than De La Hoya . He can’t lose, and he won’t win in any other fashion other than dominating brilliance. The only problem with Roger May-weather’s training regimen is that no one else can prepare Floyd for a boxer and fighter combination of Oscar’s equal.
Long before Winky Wright schooled and toyed with Felix Trinidad, a man named ‘the Golden Boy’ laid the golden goose’s egg at his foot steps, after boxing brilliantly for eight rounds. He laid the ground work for how to beat a punching fighter in Trinidad, and Wright followed it to perfection.
Now it is De La Hoya’s turn to watch Castillo and Judah tapes. He needs to fight three fights to beat Mayweather. Negate his speed by punching Mayweather every time he is near. Marginalize May-weather’s lateral movement by cutting off the ring. Establish his strength and utilize better conditioning to keep punching, changing up his boxing and fighting. Only a seasoned professional like Freddie Roach can coach Oscar into being the banger again, with all of the boxing skill that will be needed (and learned no doubt, by the expert training that he has received by Rivera, Steward, Clancy and Mayweather, Sr.)
This fight is all about validation of Mayweather’s status as the pound for pound champion, and vindication for De La Hoya, who must win the big fight, and not let another one get away. My two cents can’t afford a cup of coffee, but I do believe that Oscar will be better prepared to beat Mayweather than Mayweather will be instructed to defeat De La Hoya. Oscar has been trained by Floyd, Sr. for seven years, which is almost as long as Floyd has been trained by his father as well. If anything, that particular dog won’t hunt, and it is what betting handicappers call a ‘push’.
ADVANTAGE IN STRATEGY: De La Hoya