Analysis: Mayweather wasn't a risk-taker in boxing title victory
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LAS VEGAS -- So what happened, "Pretty Boy"? All throughout the 11-city promotional tour, for just about every second of TV time you got on the four-part HBO reality series hyping the fight and in the days and hours leading up to it, you talked of punishing Oscar de la Hoya. You said you were going to inflict much pain on the "Golden Boy" and that you were willing to "die" in that ring. That, in one of your cruder moments (and there were many such cringe-inducing instances), you were going to treat him like a man treats a certain part of a woman's anatomy. You even brought out a chicken and placed a gold medal on it.
Maybe the bronze medal you won in the Olympics would have been more appropriate to hand to the fowl.
Because instead of fulfilling any of the bluster he bellowed, Floyd Mayweather Jr. risked nothing Saturday night. He ran. He did not exchange with the much bigger de la Hoya as he said he would and played defense all night, letting his speed and endurance pull out the late rounds.
In essence, Mayweather boxed his style he shucked and jived and danced and threw counterpunches with aplomb.
As such, Mayweather did accomplish his ultimate goal, lifting the World Boxing Council super-welterweight title from de la Hoya with an unpopular split decision before a heavily pro de la Hoya crowd.
Unsophisticated chants filled the MGM Grand Garden Arena when the cards were read, much to the chagrin of the preening Mayweather.
Playing the role of the villain to the hilt, Mayweather, who entered the ring wearing a sombrero and pancho to tweak the Mexican heritage of de la Hoya, would not let up, not even after being presented with a world title in his fifth different weight class.
It was somewhat surprising, as you would have thought Mayweather could have exhaled and enjoyed the moment. Rather, he remained in character as the classless punk in need of a hug from his estranged daddy.
Instead, Floyd Mayweather Sr., who trained de la Hoya for the previous six years, said his former protege beat his flesh and blood.
"I thought Oscar won the fight based on the point system because he was the busier fighter," Mayweather Sr. said. "My son had good defense and caught enough punches, but I still thought Oscar pressed enough to win the fight."
Junior was having none of it.
"It was easy work for me," he said. "He was rough and tough but ... I told the fans I would give them a show. I was having fun out there, and it was a hell of a fight. But look at the punch stats, and you'll see why there's a new champion."
Indeed, the 43 percent of the punches Mayweather landed far eclipsed the 21 percent de la Hoya did. And the 29 percent connect rate on jabs was almost double de la Hoya's 16 percent. Landed power punches were even more of a disparity, Mayweather's 57 percent to de la Hoya's 24 percent. So sure, by pure percentages, Mayweather won. This scorecard even had him rallying to win by one round, 115-113.
But therein lies the problem with judging the sweet science, just how subjective things can be.
Although there's no doubt Mayweather was the more precise boxer, de la Hoya pushed the action by throwing 106 more punches without looking like a plodding amateur.
"I felt I won the fight," de la Hoya said. "I landed the harder, crisper punches. I felt when I landed my punches I could see I was hurting him.
"I was pressing the fight, and if I didn't press the fight there wouldn't have been a fight."
De la Hoya has nothing left to prove after losing his fifth bout in 43 fights. The "Golden Boy" is a brand who transcends the sport, is the head of a burgeoning boxing promotion and is beloved by corporate America like no one else in the game.
Mayweather, who improved to 38-0, aches to be as beloved and as well-paid. Maybe that's why the "Pretty Boy" acts out so much.
"Yes, I'm going to retire," he said. "I don't have anything else to prove. I want to spend more time with my family."
Don't you believe it, not for a second. Especially not when Mayweather already told one huge lie about his taking the fight to de la Hoya.
First Published May 6, 2007 11:12 pm