Saturday, May 06, 2006

Mayorga vs. De La Hoya: How much does Oscar have left?

By JE Grant

Weighing in on the Ricardo Mayorga – Oscar De La Hoya so-called “title” fight seems almost a requirement for people who write about boxing.

After all, De La Hoya has held world titles of one sort another from 130 to 160 pounds. He defeated high profilers such as Julio Caesar Chavez, Pernell Whitaker, Ike Quartey, Fernando Vargas, etc… Shouldn’t we pay attention when he graces us with a performance?

Mayorga also enters the ring tonight a titlist at 154 and a past that included the actual welterweight championship won from the very capable Vernon Forrest.

Of course all of that is very deceptive.

The last time De La Hoya dominated anyone of note was against Vargas in a 154-pound unification match. He used the boxing skills that wowed the world in the Olympics and throughout his career. He finished off Vargas as only a special champion can.

Unfortunately, that was in 2002. Since that time there was 154-pound title defense against a lesser opponent, a loss of his 154-pound titles to Shane Mosely (controversially to be sure), an equally controversial win over Felix Sturm, and a resounding knockout loss to Bernard Hopkins for the middleweight championship.

As for Mayorga, since stunning Forrest in back-to-back efforts, Cory Spinks zoomed by him to wrest his welterweight title. There was also a blistering stoppage loss at the hands of Felix Trinidad at 160 pounds.

Somehow those bouts qualified him for a shot a vacated trinket world title belt against Michele Piccirillo who had toiled against nominal opposition before earning a title shot. Predictably, Mayorga simply ran through his light-punching and retreating foe to capture the decision.

If you can’t tell by now, I’m less than enthused with this bout. The promotional acumen of De La Hoya and his Golden Boy Promotions has successfully created interest where little is warranted.

De La Hoya built his career reputation by meeting and beating (and occasionally losing to) many of the best fighters of his generation. He is now at the stage of his fighting career of cherry-picking opponents he feels he can beat, rather than seeking out the biggest challenge. Not a bad business strategy, just don’t ask me to gladly go along with it.

Oh yes, what about a prediction for the fight? Five years ago, we may have laughed at this match-up. De La Hoya has skills, smarts, and determination that put him in a league far, far above Mayorga. The questions going in: How much does De La Hoya have left in the tank? Is he still willing to suffer late into a fight? Is he still quick enough to maneuver around the ever-charging Mayorga?

I think that he will likely be at 80 percent of his prime and that will be more than enough for Mayorga. He’ll out-speed, out-work, and ultimately out-punch the Nicaraguan. Mayorga has but one dimension and it is straight-ahead blasting. Look for him to be chopped up on the way in and heaving hard from the punishment by the middle rounds.

Prediction: De La Hoya wins a 12 round decision pulling away at the end.


Anonymous Mr. Toney said...

Oscar always gets people thinking he is the man.

7:22 PM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

I was spot-on on this one.(It did end a tad bit sooner than what I though though.) I'll be back...

6:09 PM  

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