Monday, September 21, 2009
Bet on it: Manny Pacquiao will be next to fight Floyd Mayweather Jr.
It has served him well as he has built his company, Golden Boy Promotions, into a major force in the boxing business since its inception eight years ago.
This was a tough sell, though.
De La Hoya was trying to convince an assemblage of irascible boxing types late Saturday night at the MGM Grand that Shane Mosley, rather than Manny Pacquiao, would make a better opponent for Floyd Mayweather Jr. in Mayweather’s next fight.
De La Hoya knew he was pushing for Mosley only because Mosley is a member in good standing of the Golden Boy stable. The crowd knew it. De La Hoya knew the crowd knew it, and the crowd knew De La Hoya knew the crowd knew it.
The poker table was filled with professionals and everyone saw the bluff developing.
Nevertheless, De La Hoya gave it a shot.
“Mosley has a strong case, let me tell you,” De La Hoya said, clearly struggling for words to back up his assertion, repeating the same phrase but stressing a different syllable each time. “Mosley has a strong case. Mosley has a very strong case.”
He sounded like one of those concert emcees at Shea Stadium in 1965 given the thankless task of hyping the appearance of Sounds Incorporated when the crowd was obviously wired up to see the Beatles.
De La Hoya’s pitch was greeted by a confused silence and then a couple of catcalls, until someone politely suggested that Pacquiao would present a more desirable match.
After all, during Mayweather’s hiatus of nearly two years from boxing, Pacquiao claimed the consensus if mythical title of best active boxer in the world at any weight.
Mayweather regained the distinction with a brilliant performance in his 12-round dismantling, a near shutout, of Juan Manuel Marquez on Saturday at the Grand Garden Arena.
Prediction: Team Golden Boy’s lobbying notwithstanding, Mayweather-Pacquiao will be made. Negotiations will be hard and marked by all manner of posturing and name-calling. The proposed fight will be supposedly “on,” then “off again,” then “back on,” and this cycle will repeat two or three times. We’ve seen this show before. The promoters will inform us repeatedly that the lucrative fight “transcends boxing,” whatever that means. But it will be made.
Mayweather, despite intense questioning — he accurately pointed out that he was being asked the same thing over and over again in various ways — did not address his next fight. About the Pacquiao-Miguel Cotto fight scheduled for Nov. 14 at the MGM Grand, Mayweather said only that he hopes the best man wins.
His father, Floyd Mayweather Sr., cast his vote for a fight with Pacquiao over Mosley, though he thinks his son would win either fight handily.
“Mosley just wants a big payday, and Floyd shouldn’t give him one,” Mayweather Sr. said. “I want him to fight Pacquiao. Floyd can definitely whoop Mosley. Pacquiao? He’s probably even easier. He’s not in Floyd’s league.”
Although their relationship has been contentious in the past, father and son embraced in the ring just before Little Floyd went to work on Marquez (50-5-1).
“I gave him some good words of wisdom in there,” said Mayweather Sr., evoking the memory of Michael Jackson by sporting a showy military-style jacket on fight night. “I wanted him to protect himself, to keep his hands up, to win. I just wanted to give him some fatherly advice.”
Much has been made, with good reason, of Mayweather’s lopsided advantage in the punch statistics and on the official scorecards, where he won 120-107, 119-108 and 118-109. (I found it in my heart to award Marquez one round and had it 119-108.)
Just as impressive were the nuances in Mayweather’s execution, the way he controlled the ring and took Marquez out of his game — a difficult assignment Mayweather made look effortless. In his first fight since December 2007, Mayweather enhanced his reputation as a thinking fan’s fighter, someone best appreciated by those who enjoy the finer points of the sport: defense, the art of elusion, tactical maneuvering.
Loyal to the end, Marquez’s supporters filled the arena with cheers on every attempt by their man to put together a flurry of punches. More often than not, though, Mayweather picked off shot after shot thrown by Marquez, like the Japanese monster Grogan swatting down a fighter jet on the old SCTV sketch. The defining image of the fight might be a frowning Marquez fan posing for a photo in the lobby afterward, looking downcast but defiantly holding up a Mexican flag with Marquez’s name spelled out on it in silver lettering.
“He was trying to go to the body, but when I am in the ring I can see every shot that is coming,” Mayweather (40-0) said.
Mayweather went off as a minus 350 betting favorite (risk $3.50 to net $1) at the MGM on Saturday after a late line move toward the underdog. In betting odds updated Sunday at all Lucky’s sports books in Nevada, Mayweather is listed as a minus 170 favorite against Pacquiao and as a minus 300 favorite against Mosley.
Mayweather Sr. saw at least a little room for improvement in his son’s dominant showing Saturday and expects him to be sharper in his next fight — a sobering assessment for either Pacquiao or Mosley.
“Rust means a lot,” Mayweather Sr. said. “I don’t care what anybody says. You ain’t fought in two years and you fight again, it’s going to feel different. If Floyd had never took time off, he would have stopped him. He would have been in fighting shape, no rust.
“He wasn’t rusty like completely gone. But he didn’t let his hands go. If he did, you would have seen a different ending to the fight. You would have seen a stoppage.”
Las Vegas Sun, Sept. 21, 2009