The May 5 pay-per-view showdown between Oscar de la Hoya and Floyd Mayweather, Jr., will be by far the biggest fight of 2007, the same as Oscar/Mayorga was the biggest fight of 2006. This time, though, it's also important from a purist and hardcore fan standpoint: How good is Oscar still, and just how good is Floyd Mayweather?
Those questions will be answered in three months, and we'll talk about that fight more in a few moments. But Saturday sees Shane Mosley return to the ring, one of the best fighters of his generation and once again among the most deadly boxers in the sport. It'll never be enough to say that Mosley destroyed Fernando Vargas in their second fight in 2006. It was utter annihilation with an emphatic final scene. Their first fight was a classic war, but given the second fight, more of a battle, really. No one came out a true winner, since Vargas showed remarkable guts sticking in that fight as long as he did, and doing very well for himself.
But to use the war thing, after the first battle, Mosley regrouped and strategized the perfect attack for the second meeting. Vargas just took too many hits, and showed too much weakness. Mosley and his camp took advantage of their experience in the first fight, and used their knowledge to great effect, leaving Fernando Vargas a wayward ex-star with failing credibility.
Mosley's matchup on Saturday with Luis Collazo is interesting, and is a must-win for Shane. He's heavily favored, and moving back to 147 shouldn't make any negative difference for him. Mosley is a dynamic fighter, with lightning fast combinations and stinging power, and he's been one of the best in the world for most of his career. Collazo is a pro, and a pretty good fighter, but there's no logic that can forecast an upset in this fight.
Now, back to Floyd and Oscar. The fact of the matter is, Oscar has given a lot of very good things to boxing, becoming the biggest star in the game after the collapse of the heavyweight division's marketability and reliability. Every time he steps into the ring, it's an event. He's a bona fide superstar, and at times, that star quality has overshadowed his in-ring skill, and caused people to forget that he's a very good fighter, particularly if there's an issue that makes Oscar go even harder than he usually does.
Mayorga and Vargas made personal attacks on Oscar, and both paid the price for riling up the soft-spoken de la Hoya. Mayweather has not done that, and shouldn't be expected to. But this time, Oscar is fighting a guy that almost everyone thinks is better than him. Rarely has de la Hoya been a true underdog. He was against Bernard Hopkins, and that didn't go so well for him.
Now, Oscar is at a point in his career where he's as much as -- if not more of -- a businessman than he is a boxer. Golden Boy Promotions is arguably the top stable in the sport, and Oscar's legacy in the ring is mostly set for the ages, so why not be the businessman? That's going to be the rest of his life, not actually boxing.
But that word -- "mostly." There are a lot of people that still have some reservations about where Oscar truly stands among the all-time greats. A fight at this stage of his career, against the undisputed number one pound-for-pound fighter in the world, is not just a great business decision. It's a fight that can sew up de la Hoya's place among the great legends. If Oscar beats Floyd, it will be somewhat akin to some Hollywood storyline.
Mayweather is the better fighter. He's got blink and you'll miss it handspeed. He's impossibly elusive. And for all the guff he's taken about ducking certain fighters, I can't think of one that Mayweather wouldn't have been a huge favorite and very likely victor against.
And then there's now.
Shane Mosley is the single potential Mayweather opponent that I think could beat Floyd. As much as I respect de la Hoya and even like him, Oscar is just plain not in a position to be the guy that beats Mayweather without a somewhat tricky gameplan that goes off without a hitch, and Mayweather isn't the type of guy that will be easily suckered into any trap that could give Oscar the upper-hand in the ring. Toe-to-toe, in 2007, Floyd is going to beat Oscar on points, hands down.
If and when Mosley gets past Collazo, Sugar Shane will play the waiting game to see who he fights next. There are several potential opponents, but none more intriguing than a still-undefeated Mayweather, fresh off of a career-highlight victory against Shane's old rival and current boss/stable mate.
Mosley/Mayweather is a matchup that wouldn't break box office or pay-per-view records, but would pit two guys with styles that are both similar and contrasting enough that it would be almost impossible to leave the arena not having seen a great fight. It's got star power, it's got greatly skilled boxers, and it's got intrigue.
In all honesty, if Mosley beats Collazo and Mayweather beats Oscar, there is no good (remember, I said "good") reason that Mosley/Mayweather is not signed and delivered by the end of the year. If all the dominoes fall into place, it's a fight that has to happen.