Golden Boy vs. Pretty Boy (cont.)
Posted: Tuesday May 1, 2007 8:55AM; Updated: Wednesday May 2, 2007 9:17PM
In the boardrooms there seems to be a reluctant recognition of this. While old boxing hands argue that the sport is merely in a lull -- "Boxing has gone through ebbs and flows in its history," says HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg, whose network, long among the sport's biggest boosters, is essentially promoting the fight and televising it on PPV -- there is nevertheless a sense of urgency. Blessed with two remarkable fighters, terrific subplots and a looming deadline of De La Hoya's expected retirement, HBO (which, like SI, is owned by Time Warner) has pulled out all the stops. And that includes foisting an hourlong PowerPoint presentation on a cadre of bewildered boxing writers.
Basically, according to the slide show, everybody's doing a lot of stuff. Here's some of it: As the promoter of record, De La Hoya's company, Golden Boy, leased a pair of Gulfstream jets to ferry the fighters on a nine-day, 11-city tour. The stopovers served to remind the cable-ready universe that the 34-year-old De La Hoya, only sporadically active (or successful) over the last several years, had regained his appetite, his nerve and his megasmile. Also that Mayweather, 30, undefeated and a champion for a decade, was not so intimidated by moving up from welterweight to challenge De La Hoya, the WBC champion, at this new weight of 154. "Golden Girl," Mayweather called him.
De La Hoya deserves better than that, of course, having ruled six divisions and run up a 38-4 record (with 30 KOs) during his 15-year career, his left hook as impressive as his smile. He still has some crunch in him and could be dangerous at this weight. Mayweather (37-0, with 24 KOs), who has an equally impressive set of choppers, is the quicker and shiftier boxer and will be the favorite in the fight for it. But even as a shoulder-rolling phantom, his power, never his strong suit, becomes suspect as he moves up in weight to meet De La Hoya.
The fighters' tour was a staple of big-time promotion in the 1970s and '80s, when Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvelous Marvin Hagler, Tommy Hearns and Roberto Durán were repeatedly squaring off. It hasn't been used as much, or as effectively, in recent years. With De La Hoya consistently taking the high road and the puckish Mayweather playing his recklessly rude foil, there could hardly have been more drama, or comedy. Mayweather seemed to be beside himself on the tour, hatching caper after caper (producing a live chicken with a gold medal around its neck, stealing De La Hoya's bag) and generally getting under his opponent's skin. When the two parties ate in the same restaurant, someone from Mayweather's table took food from a cart headed for De La Hoya. "I mean, who acts like that?" says De La Hoya, shaking his head.
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