De La Hoya steps up to the plate for Mayweather Sr, now the world awaits to see if he's ready to do the same against Mayweather Jr

By George Kimball


De La Hoya steps up to the plate for Mayweather Sr, now the world awaits to see if he's ready to do the same against Mayweather Jr

LAS VEGAS --- Oscar De La Hoya says he “doesn’t really dislike” Floyd Mayweather Jr.“I just don’t care for him,” said the Golden Boy, who appeared to be choosing his words carefully lest they turn up on the final installment of ‘24/7’, which would be broadcast a few hours later.

De La Hoya, who defends his WBC 154-pound title in what could be his last fight Saturday Night at the MGM Grand Garden, met with a few invited reporters Thursday afternoon. Although it was probably safe to assume, as most of us did, that although Oscar the Promoter had agreed to this final little tete-a-tete, Oscar the Boxer would have preferred to spend the afternoon undergoing a root canal.

You didn’t expect that De La Hoya was suddenly going to unburden himself by serving up his strategy against Mayweather, and he didn’t, but he did confirm that he had left four tickets for Pretty Boy’s father, Ugly Boy.

“This is the biggest fight in a long time,” De La Hoya explained his largesse. “Not having Floyd (Sr.) be there wouldn’t have been right.”

Or it could just be that while Oscar the Boxer wasn’t about to cave in to Ugly Boy’s $2 million demand to train him, Oscar the Promoter recognized the public relations value in the gesture.

Once Freddie Roach had replaced Floyd Sr. in De La Hoya’s corner, it had been widely speculated that Ugly Boy might return to his son’s, but De La Hoya says he never believed it for a minute.

“When we got to Las Vegas on the tour, I saw the three of them (the Floyds pere et fils, along with Pretty Boy’s half-wit Uncle Roger), and but I never believed it for a second,” said De La Hoya. “The egos were just too big. I saw three Mayweathers there and I just knew it wasn’t going to work.”

Besides, De La Hoya said yesterday, Floyd Sr. spent enough time unburdening himself over the years he served as his trainer that he was more aware than most just how dysfunctional the relationship was.

“I had a tough father myself,” said De La Hoya, “but over time I came to embrace my father. I’ve seen the soft side of Floyd Sr., and I know he wants to have that relationship with his son. It’s just that the kid doesn’t want it – and over the years, he’s surrounded himself with bad people.”

De La Hoya claimed that Mayweather Sr. long ago informed him of his son’s jealousy over the Golden Boy’s career trajectory.

“He used to tell me ‘He wants to be like you,’ said Oscar.

“Fine. But don’t try to take me down because you can’t be like me.”

De La Hoya recalled an occasion several years ago when both he and Pretty Boy were still indentured servants at Top Rank. Bob Arum, concerned that Mayweather’s thuggish path was alienating him from boxing fans, arranged for De La Hoya and Sugar Ray Leonard to fly back from the Boxing Hall of Fame inductions together.

Both Leonard and De La Hoya spent those few hours attempting to apprise young Mayweather of the pot of gold that was about to visit boxing in the form of pay-per-view revenue, and that improving his public image would greately enhance his chances of cashing in on it.

“Everything went in one ear and out the other,” recalled De La Hoya.

All of that having been said, choosing to fight a man who is arguably the world’s best pound-for-pound boxer at this stage of his career might not have been the wisest choice Oscar the Boxer ever made, but Oscar the Promoter had 20 million very good reasons for encouraging his client to take it.

In his heart of hearts, Oscar the Promoter probably knows  that, Pretty Boy’s character flaws notwithstanding, Oscar the Boxer doesn’t have much chance of winning Saturday night. But whatever slim chances harbors would be greatly enhanced were Mayweather to abandon his technical advantages and attempt to correct all the perceived slights by turning ‘The World Awaits’ into a street brawl.

Which may be precisely why Oscar is still trying to push all the right buttons right up until the gun goes off.

Oops, Sorry, Floyd. Until the bell rings, we meant to say.

“I’m prepared to chase him, but if he wants to fight in the center of the ring, fine,” said De La Hoya. “If he wants to make it an exciting fight, let’s fight.”


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