In the Aftermath, the Calculations Add Up to An Encore - Drat; Can Boxing Be Saved Twice in Same Year?

By Michael Katz


In the Aftermath, the Calculations Add Up to An Encore - Drat; Can Boxing Be Saved Twice in Same Year?

"He ain't heavy, father-He's carrying ME."

The numbers are coming in and, even without dollar signs in front of them, the multiplication tables are impressive - carry the eight.Every way you add it up - carry the five - it seems like they'll do it again - carry the seven. Back in the old days, the wise guys would have been proud - carry the stiff.

Business is business, and when business is this good, the bottom line is $120 million from pay-per-view - carry the 2.15 million purchases - which after taxes and the cheapest of undercards comes to $45 million, give or take a shekel, for Oscar de la Hoya, and $20 million to Floyd Mayweather Jr. for schlepping around a 34-year-old past-it warrior for 12 rounds.

Oh, he carried him, all right. It reminded me of Marvelous Marvin Hagler-Roberto Duran, after which I asked Budd Schulberg his opinion.

“If I didn't know any better,” said the great writer, “I might think Marvin carried him, the way they did in the old days.”

Of course Budd knew better. The author of “The Harder They Fall” knew the game and all its cons. It didn't take an Oliver Stone to surmise that maybe Bob Arum, who promoted both Hagler and Roberto, asked Marvin to take it easy on the old man, to not ruin Duran's marketability.

There are no marketability problems for de la Hoya. He can make obscene bucks by fighting anyone from Mia St. John to Butterbean, and especially Felix Trinidad Jr. But Mayweather needs de la Hoya to make all that filthy lucre without really risking his self-delusional status as the greatest boxer in history.

If one irrefutable fact emerged from the fight to save boxing, it is that to mention Floyd Mayweather Jr. in the same sentence with Sugar Ray Robinson must mean you are referring to Sugar Ray Seales and Ivan Robinson. He may be able to swim in the shallow talent pool of 2007, but the sharks of the Eighties and Fifties would have had him for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Of course, back then he might have had a chance to develop more than he has had to with this current crop. He's a terrific talent, though not so creative, especially on offense, and you have to be pretty good to carry an opponent and make it look real. He's pretty good, but I think he let the cat out of the bag afterwards when he said things like, “It was easy work,” and “He surprised me, I could see his shots coming. I outboxed him easy” and “Damn, it's easy to hit him in the face - how'd he beat all those guys, he don't move his head?”

He tried to couch his remarks with respect. After all, de la Hoya enabled him to make maybe $20-25 million and, never mind the promises of retirement, he'd like to do it again. No sense killing the Golden Goose.

Ray Robinson used to carry fighters. Jersey Joe Walcott did, too. The biggest danger to Mayweather was to somehow let the scoring get completely away from him by his cat-and-mouse game. As it was, one of the judges - Eugenia Williams, oops, Tom Kaczmarek, all them Jersey judges look alike - came up with a scorecard favoring de la Hoya. The fight to save boxing almost gave the sport a fatal black eye.

As is his wont, Mayweather played safe. He gave away rounds two through four, on my card which is the only one that counts (well, Tim Dahlberg, the Fleischer-winning boxing writer for the Associated Press who was seated many rows ahead of me, had the exact same card, which came to 8-4 for Mayweather), letting de la Hoya back him onto the ropes. Oscar flailed away, his punches doing more damage to his own stamina than to Mayweather's body.

Mayweather had started slowly against Zab Judah, too. Roy Jones Jr. had almost an addiction to winning each round; Mayweather sees the big picture. He doesn't take chances, preferring to strike when there's as little danger as possible.

One would have preferred those strikes to be more than two-punch combinations. Again, his inclination is to talk about how great he is, not give daring exhibitions.

I have seldom seen a fight where more “experts” got it wrong. Bert Sugar, sitting behind me, wound up with a draw, explaining over and over how Mayweather was landing lead right hands. Yeah, well, except many of those “lead” rights were right crosses, over increasingly hesitant jabs.

Roberto Duran thought de la Hoya won. So did Jean-Claude Bouttier, the French TV commentator who I guess was hit harder than I thought in those two losses to Carlos Monzon that I covered way back when. Floyd Mayweather Sr., sitting in the same row I was but off to the side, about 40 feet directly behind his son's corner in the seats that de la Hoya had given him, said he thought Oscar won. Floyd Jr. shrugged that off, said his father knew he wasn't going to get any business from him but still hoped to cash some checks from Oscar.

The normally reliable Kevin Iole, now of, scored the fight a draw. But he was seated next to Ron Borges, who would give Osama Bin Laden the edge over Mayweather, and Bernard Fernandez, who both had the fight a draw. I am convinced that often a person's ear gets in his eyes - just listening to, say, Jim Lampley, for example, can give the impression that HBO's favored son is handily winning.

Or, as in the packed MGM Grand Arena, the know-nothing crowd certainly may have contributed to any controversy (at least any not started by de la Hoya's CEO, Richard Savior) over the scoring. The crowd completely ignored the prelims - which deserved such close attention - and howled so joyfully at de la Hoya's pathetic flurries. It may well have influenced the judges. The roar of the crowd certainly made it SOUND as if something exciting was taking place.

Afterwards, it was noted that had Jerry Roth joined his colleagues and scored the 12th round for de la Hoya, the outcome would have been a draw. The question should have been how the hell did Kaczmarek and Chuck Giampa award the 12th to Oscar?

Roger Mayweather, whose preflight slurs on the legacy of the great Eddie Futch leave him in a permanent OUTHOUSE, did say something I found surprisingly sagacious after the bout:

“You don't score punches that don't land.”

Mayweather could easily have made it all academic. The openings were there all night. His judicious use of them suggested he was setting up de la Hoya for something big later, maybe a few months later.

While no one can force de la Hoya back into the ring, there were $45 million reasons why he'd be amenable to a rematch. The second time around, the fight won't do as well, but it would still be bigger than any other match possible in boxing.

Fighting de la Hoya a second time gives Mayweather his biggest possible payday - fights with Sugar Shane Mosley, Felix Trinidad Jr., Miguel Cotto et al would be poor alternatives, less reward for probably more risk. Why wouldn't he try to build the gate, the way he did for the Cinco de Mayo, with smart business tactics?

De la Hoya was better than we had the right to expect. At 34, he obviously got himself into the best possible shape, though by the eighth round, he was noticeably struggling as usual. I personally would hope that he does not risk his body again against Mayweather. It is unlikely that he will be able to reach such physical form again; next time, against a light hitter like Mayweather, he can be expected to take many, many shots - the last thing boxing needs is de la Hoya struggling in later life.

He was what he always was, a very good fighter, not quite on a par with his charisma, but one who could hold his own with the best of his elongated generation. No, not a great fighter, but a great boon for boxing. If he feels the competitive urge, it is suggested here that he bite off something more digestible, like Trinidad.

Mayweather, I would hope, would look for more dangerous hills to climb if he is to remain on the scene. He could retire, the boxing world would not miss him. He has given us some virtuoso performances, but no startling fights. Maybe, like Pernell Whitaker and Roy Jones, he needs to get older and slow up so that the rest of the world can be more competitive.

It was a good fight, no where near a great one. A rematch would prove nothing, except how gullible we all are. Mayweather-Mosley or Mayweather-Cotto (assuming, as I do, that Cotto gets past Zab Judah) would not come close to matching the numbers, but they might surpass the excitement.

PENTHOUSE: Oscar de la Hoya, for at least making the effort to give us a fight. He of course was greatly rewarded, but it wasn't just the dollars, it was further proof that he has been a solid force for good in the game. Hell, getting in a fight with Bob Arum can't be all bad….Never mind Eddie Chambers and it's not only because the undefeated heavyweight is “only” 215 pounds. That was big enough for Jack Johnson, Jack Dempsey, Joe Louis, Ezzard Charles, Jersey Joe Walcott, Rocky Marciano, Muhammad Ali, Larry Holmes, and yes, even Mike Tyson to win the championship. Chambers impresses as one of those useful contenders who should be round for a good while because of his nice defense; but I don't think he has the wherewithal to go all the way. On the other hand, keep an eye on Cristobal Arreola, the Mexican-American from Southern California.

OUTHOUSE: Let's not jump to any wrong conclusions. Boxing is still in big trouble. Just because de la Hoya-Mayweather shattered records, remember money isn't everything. The fight to save boxing at least didn't land the final nail, though there were some rough moments after the decision when the word was going round that Richard Savior himself was questioning the judges' tallies. Something about Jerry Roth putting the blue corner (de la Hoya's) scores in the other column and vice versa. Richard Savior said “other promoters” might protest, but he was sure it was an “honest mistake” and would let it pass. Yeah, like he was going to save boxing by demanding an investigation (remember the second Mosley fight?) into color-blindness. “Other promoters” would have been laughed at for suggesting that Jerry Roth was confused about which fighter was Mayweather and which was de la Hoya….By the way, Showtime's Steve Farhood did get a credential, but was seated so far back that he immediately copped out of rendering a decision - he said he had no idea what was going on, which of course is a straight line, but we'll skip it.


Send questions and comments to: MKATZ@BOXINGTALK.COM