It was a strange night in Vegas on Saturday. The pound-for-pound best fighter in the world came away with the win, but didn’t prove anything to anyone. Floyd Mayweather got the victory and the WBC Junior Middleweight belt, but everyone I’ve talked to was far more impressed with how Oscar De La Hoya performed.
De La Hoya continually came after Mayweather, pressing the action and throwing more punches. Mayweather was obviously quicker and more accurate with his punches, but if Oscar hadn’t gone forward, there wouldn’t have even been a fight. It was a good fight, entertaining and fun to watch, but Floyd showed why he’s never been known a crowd pleaser or a showman.
Mayweather (38-0) out-landed De La Hoya 207 to 122, but Oscar (38-5) out-threw Floyd 587 to 481. Mayweather was more precise, landing 43 percent of his punches to just 21 percent for De La Hoya. It was a very tough fight to score because of the clash in styles. It was hard to give Floyd credit for consistently moving away from De La Hoya and rarely punching unless he was pressed. The judges’ scores were an indication of how confusing the fight was. Tommy Kaczmarek had it 115-113 for De La Hoya, while Chuck Giampa scored it 116-112, and Jerry Roth had it 115-113 both for Mayweather. ESPN.com had it 116-112 for Mayweather, but Yahoo! Sports had it 114-114, a draw. One twist that might be interesting to remember is that if Roth had scored the 12th round (which I thought Oscar won) for De La Hoya, the fight would have ended in a draw.
I scored the fight 115-113 for Mayweather, but there were two rounds I gave to Floyd that I thought were virtual toss-ups. I thought De La Hoya was clearly trying to win the fight, where Floyd was fighting not to lose. I thought De La Hoya clearly landed the harder shots, while Mayweather didn’t seem to bother Oscar at all. He landed some crisp, clean, flush shots, but De La Hoya never looked fazed. After the fight, both of Floyd’s eyes were swelling, while Oscar looked clean.
De La Hoya was obviously pulling ahead during the middle rounds, when after the eighth round he inexplicably stopped using his jab. With his corner, the entire arena (including Bernard Hopkins) and McD screaming for Oscar to throw his jab, he didn’t. When he watches the replay he’ll be kicking himself. Mayweather had no answer for De La Hoya’s jab all night, and it was the most effective punch either fighter threw. I personally think Oscar wasn’t comfortable throwing it because he was afraid Mayweather would slip a right hook over the top of the punch and catch him off guard. If there is a rematch – and I’m 99 percent sure there will be – I would be shocked if De La Hoya didn’t win. He’s far too smart a fighter to lose the same way again.
The bottom line is that Mayweather landed more punches at a much better percentage, and that won him the fight. He obviously didn’t think he needed to go toe-to-toe with De La Hoya or try to prove anything to anyone. For most of the fight he waited for Oscar to get close, threw a punch and moved away. A smart strategy, but not if you’re trying to prove yourself as one of the best. Again, I gave the fight to Floyd, but could easily see how someone would have given it to De La Hoya.
I respect Max Kellerman’s opinion on boxing matters, but after the fight he ripped Tommy Kaczmarek’s scoring of the fight. He essentially called the guy incompetent, and called it a “virtuoso performance” by Mayweather. I’m sorry Max but you’re wrong. I’ve personally seen Floyd fight at least five better fights than that.
I think De La Hoya will push hard for a rematch and Mayweather’s pride will thrust him into it. Floyd will also feel he needs to trade with Oscar more often to prove himself, and will lose the fight because of it.