Miguel Cotto is now busy, looking at the April 26 date on HBO against Alfonso Gomez, co-headlining with Antonio Margarito and Zab Judah, with the winners to square off -- Top Rank's hope being Cotto-Margarito -- in the summer.
Ricky Hatton is reportedly looking at a May 24 comeback date in Manchester, and trainer Billy Graham has been adamant since December 8 that he does not want to see Hatton back at 147 pounds, let alone higher.
Who does that leave Oscar de la Hoya with for a May 3 opponent? Even Judah, mentioned in passing as a possible opponent, is probably tied up. Judah would have been a great opponent for Oscar, in my view, as he plays the villain well and has the skills (when he's at his best) to seriously push and even beat Oscar.
But, it isn't meant to be. This seems like an instance where de la Hoya, king of pay-per-view, has overplayed his hand. In waiting and waiting to name an opponent, Oscar has watched potential suitors move on with their careers. No longer is de la Hoya the only money show in town. There's Mayweather right on his heels, along with guys like Cotto and Hatton now feeling as though they can make their own money, and don't need Oscar for a big payday. Cotto-Gomez and Margarito-Judah will probably sell out in Atlantic City, with it close enough to New York for the rabid Cotto and Judah fans to gladly make the trek, plus Gomez has his own fans and Margarito is a solid name opponent for Judah, in an intriguing fight. Hatton knows he'll sell out in Manchester, no matter who he fights, and he's looking to get his career back on track more than anything else, it appears. A tune-up fight to build to Hatton-Malignaggi or something in the fall seems likely, as it would also give Paulie time to make a contractually-obligated rematch with Lovemore N'dou.
Oscar is left with few options. There may be only "Money" Mayweather left on the table.
The idea of Oscar-Floyd II has been talked about, with I'd wager 85% of us seeing no point in the fight. Yes, it made huge money and was a true event, but I'm on the high end of enjoyment of that fight, and I thought it was, I dunno, pretty entertaining, nice tactical boxing, a fine performance from both, and probably the very best that Oscar could do.
Mayweather has made so much money this year that he doesn't need to bow to anything Oscar wants if they do negotiate. He won't fight him at 154 again; doesn't have to this time. He won't take the purse split they had last time; doesn't have to, because he'll either get 50-50 or pass.
This time around, Oscar de la Hoya needs Floyd Mayweather, Jr., a hell of a lot more than Floyd needs him. While Oscar promoted fights, got into that bizarre cross-dressing scandal, and smiled for photo ops, Mayweather became the biggest star in boxing for a fight with a 140-pound Englishman. He carries his own weight and then some in promoting fights, selling fights, and making people believe they need to see his fights.
They won't 2.4 million buys again, I'll tell you that much. They may not do 1.5 million. Even those that thought Oscar fought really well (and I'm one of them, I felt it was a draw, which was a pretty miraculous effort on Mayweather's part given the weight), do not want to see this fight happen again. Mayweather adapted to Oscar over the second half of the fight and dominated him at points. If they did it at 147, does de la Hoya have a real chance? No. He doesn't. He's not good enough anymore. He's a stronger puncher than Floyd, but he also can't hit him. And Mayweather's overlooked power would feel much different to Oscar at 147 than it did 154, where Mayweather couldn't hurt him.
Mayweather would trounce Oscar in what would probably amount to a dull fight, a Pirates of the Caribbean-type sequel where the magic of the first cannot be recaptured, and where you find out that, really, magic was 90% of what it had going for it in the first place.
We all know Mayweather will not sit out 2008 and 2009 as he plans. He retired after Oscar, for God's sake, and then Ricky Hatton made one comment, and Mayweather was back in action. He'll fight one time this year, probably, letting his body rest and heal up. And it'll probably be late in 2008 against Miguel Cotto, should Cotto beat Gomez and then the winner of Margarito-Judah. If not, Shane Mosley is always out there, and trust me -- if it comes down to it, money will talk, and that fight can be made.
But Oscar-Floyd II is unnecessary. It serves one man only, and that's de la Hoya. Though he can't win, he's at the stage of his career where few care whether he wins or loses. I love that he's in the sport, and I think we're much better off with him as an active fighter than without him. But if it's coming down to Oscar-Floyd II, then I'm not interested. I'll even take a pass, because I don't really want to spend 60 bones to see Mayweather box circles around de la Hoya in a rematch.
What Oscar de la Hoya may be finding out right now is that the boxing world is not just his world to do with as he pleases anymore. He can't cherry-pick opponents the way he used to. Silence isn't always golden, and this time, he's waited too long.