|Mayweather obliterated Diego Corrales in 2001. Can he do the same against Oscar this Saturday?|
I understand the people that don't like boxing, or have serious qualms with the sweet science. It's all very understandable, and even as a diehard fan, I'm in many of those same camps. The sanctioning bodies and many promoters have done all they can to sour us all on the fight game, and in the meantime, mixed martial arts came along, built gradually, and took the dominant position in the fighting sport market. It's all very easy to see. And I am a fan of MMA, and have long been one. But to me, no mixed martial arts matchup can present itself the way that a great boxing matchup does. And this is a great matchup.
But let's just get right into it, and preview this from the Mayweather side. Floyd Mayweather, Jr., is the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world. There is absolutely no question about this. Some will point at Mayweather's opposition as a reason to question him going into Saturday's fight, but it's hard for me to buy this argument. Could Floyd have fought better competition? Sure, he could have. But who was itching to get into the ring with Mayweather?
We're not talking about a Joe Calzaghe schedule here. Mayweather has fought quality fighters. Diego Corrales, Jose Luis Castillo (twice), Zab Judah, Jesus Chavez, Arturo Gatti, and many other good fighters have fallen -- hard -- at the hands of Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
He hasn't fought a great fighter, maybe. Corrales, Castillo, Judah, Chavez, Gatti, all those guys are good. So is Baldomir, so is Corley, so are a bunch of other guys on Mayweather's list. But there's no one that's great, and Corrales and Castillo are as close as it gets. Very good fighters, not great fighters.
The most important part of Mayweather's schedule, in my view, is this: Mayweather has never been truly tested by any fighter except for Jose Luis Castillo, who did give Mayweather two tough fights. Floyd has dominated his opponents.
With all that said, how does Floyd beat Oscar? HBO's Max Kellerman says that Oscar is the best fighter that Floyd has ever fought, which is very possibly true. He also says that Floyd may not be the best fighter that de la Hoya has fought, which is more arguable, but also can be reasonably stated.
Oscar is starting to be a sexy underdog pick. Hell, I'm buying the hype. Tito Trinidad says that Oscar has more experience, more power, more fortitude, has the height advantage, and all of that is true (the fortitude part may not be, of course).
|Mayweather made Baldomir look like a sparring partner last November.|
I have to doubt it. The fact of the matter is, Floyd is a superior athlete and a stunningly slick boxer. His hand speed is unrivaled. His footwork is wonderful. His defense is outstanding. And he does have enough punching power to stand his ground, though this is the only real issue. Mayweather never hurt a very rugged Carlos Baldomir in his last fight. Can he add seven more pounds and hurt Oscar?
Mayweather has made a point to say that he will engage Oscar, and that he wants to knock him out. For all his greatness, Mayweather is not as respected by casual fans as he is by analysts, insiders and diehards. He's not a KO puncher. He's not a brawler. He is a pure boxer, one of the guys that defines the term "sweet science."
This is Floyd's chance to finally put his stamp on the mainstream of boxing. Yes, he's been in main events, and yes he's a great boxer. Oscar is more known. Far more known. He's an enormous star, a fabulous, amiable personality that has really been the MVP of boxing for the however many years. Without de la Hoya, boxing doesn't have a single dependable draw.
The fact that this is Oscar de la Hoya means everything to Mayweather. If you listen to Floyd talk, you can always sense that he feels disrespected even though almost everyone will tell you he's the best fighter in the game, and has been for years. This is his chance.
So how does Floyd win?
Easily, if he fights like he's most known to fight. If Floyd uses his speed, uses his skill, he will dominate Oscar the same as he's done to everyone else. If Mayweather does what he has the ability to do, Oscar doesn't stand a chance. He has to (and can) avoid Oscar's left hook. He has to (and should be able to) avoid allowing this to turn into a brawl, because the biggest question is whether or not Floyd can stand at 154 with someone who does have Oscar's power. He cannot allow himself to be goaded into Oscar's game, which in this fight will be to test how much Floyd can handle.
Mayweather is getting the superfight shot at what basically amounts to boxing immortality. To achieve what Floyd clearly wants -- to be the best-known as well as the best fighter in the world -- all he has to do is box like Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
Can it all be so simple? Maybe. There's no doubt that Floyd will face a determined, tough opponent on Saturday night. But he is the overwhelming favorite, and if he fights like it, it's his bout to lose.