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"And who said boxing was dead?"
That was the question that Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer posed on Tuesday morning to a packed house at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City when the eagerly anticipated bout between Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr. was officially announced in the first stop of an 11-city tour.
"This is about the fight," Schaefer explained. "It's about the two best fighters fighting each other."
Before Schaefer could even begin promoting the fight, however, both fighters had started the promotion for him.
In front of a mix of media, television executives and fans Mayweather was announced first as he strut down a red carpeted walkway to the podium to the pounding beats of "Another One Bites the Dust." Mayweather flexed and shook his head in confidence as he descended down the path before his opponent was announced. Entering to the familiar sounds of the "Rocky" theme De La Hoya entered to a mix of cheers and taunts while Mayweather quickly stripped off his jacket and t-shirt to reveal a chiseled frame. Seeing this, "The Golden Boy" then took off his sports jacket and pulled his shirt out of his pants to reveal another muscled body; clearly these guys are already in great shape.
"This is truly, truly, truly a great event," Leonard Ellerbe, Mayweather's long-time corner man said after all the commotion settled down. "This is a fight Floyd's been waiting for for his whole career. This is the fight the whole world's been waiting for. Oscar thinks (that he can win) in his mind, but deep down in his heart he knows what he's up against."
"I respect Oscar as a man before I respect him as a fighter," Mayweather, 37-0, 24 KO's said when he came to the podium. "It takes two to make a mega fight. He's a champion and I'm a champion; that's why we're making this fight," he said as the fans in the audience grew vocal – some in support of Mayweather, some in support of De La Hoya.
"37 have tried and 37 have failed," Mayweather said of his unbeaten ledger. "If you want the fake ****, here it is," he said as he pointed to the WBC 154-lb title-holder. "If you want the real **** here it is."
De La Hoya, 38-4, 30 KO's was visibly angered by his younger (and smaller) opponent's taunts and his jaw grew taut and his face became red.
"I respect Floyd as a fighter. I do," De La Hoya admitted when he stepped to the podium.
"But come May fifth when I touch you you're going to hurt for a week. And believe me, come May fifth I'm going to give you something to cry about."
"It doesn't bother me," De La Hoya said of the trash talk. "It's just funny to me. I see a kid in there who is nervous and he just keeps talking and talking and he just can't stop talking because he is so nervous. I've been there and I've done that. When you're up there May fifth it's a whole different story. You can't be talking up in the ring. It's going to be a long, tough grueling fight for him."
"I'm not no Bernard Hopkins. I'm not no Winky Wright. I'm not no Shane Mosley. He's fighting Floyd Mayweather. He's fighting the top dog," an animated Mayweather would tell a group of the media at the conclusion of the press conference.
But isn't the newly crowned welterweight champion a little small for a guy who once challenged Bernard Hopkins for the middleweight crown?
"Listen man, I'm a throwback fighter," Mayweather explained. "Sometimes you've got heavyweights who are 200 (pounds). Chris Byrd was 200; you've seen him beat heavyweights who are 260. So it's really not body weight. Skills pay the bills at the end of the day. I may come in at '52 or 50 it don't really matter. He still can not beat me."
De La Hoya, who admitted to currently weighing approximately 163 pounds, also dispensed the value of his size advantage against the pound-for-pound king.
"No, that's not even coming to mind," he said. "Size doesn't matter. To a certain extent it does if you know how to utilize it. Obviously, yes, I'm going to put a lot of pressure and I guess a lot of power but I have to be very smart about it. I have to make sure I have that perfect game plan to capitalize on his mistakes."
And what, according to De La Hoya, will give him that extra advantage to come out victorious?
"The jab," he says unhesitatingly. "I have a fast, strong jab that he's not going to be able to see. Believe me; I'm going to throw that jab many times; 50, 60 times per round. Obviously a jab is always the key to a victory and he's never faced any opponent that can throw a jab. And if you study his fights he's very vulnerable to a jab."
NUMBERS, NUMBERS, NUMBERS
Lot's going on here. First the weight discrepancy. While De La Hoya publicly did not put much stock in his size advantage, it is arguably his greatest asset in the fight. And is Mayweather really a junior middleweight? Wouldn't "Pretty Boy" best be served by coming in light to preserve his speed?
"He's not going to come in no more than 148, 149," Ellerbe admitted to Fightnews.
"Floyd is going to be Floyd. Oscar can be the greatest fighter and the biggest fighter in the world. However, why approach it as anything different? We're going to approach it the same way. He's not a physical fighter. He can trick you in believing he's a physical fighter but he's a boxer. What are you going to outbox the best boxer in the world? Come on, let's be realistic."
By fight night, De La Hoya could have anywhere from 2-10 pounds on his opponent.
Meanwhile, the financial projections regarding the fight continue to surpass expectations. The Pay-Per-View record for most buys ever goes to Lennox Lewis – Mike Tyson in June 2002 with 2 million buys. The record for most buys for a non-heavyweight fight was set by De La Hoya's 1999 "Fight of the Millennium" against Felix Trinidad which took in 1.4 million buys. And while no one is saying for sure, that record is expected to be broken in May. At $54.95 a pop on PPV and $50 on closed circuit there's a lot of money to be made.
The fight will be shown in 176 countries and the live gate has already broke records taking in an unprecedented $19 million (tickets sold out in the first three hours, albeit the majority of tickets were already sold to those with connections).
The fight will also be sponsored (and thus promoted) by mainstream sponsors such as Tequila Cazadores, Dr. Pepper, Heineken's own Tecate beer, Rockstar energy drink and Southwest Airlines. De La Hoya's marketability allows for the involvement of sponsors who generally would never be involved in the "Sweet Science."
And finally, Mayweather opened as a -230 favorite over a +190 De La Hoya though those odds have narrowed slightly to -220 for Floyd and +180 for Oscar.
JABZ
In an unprecedented promotional push, HBO will air a four-part television series entitled "De La Hoya - Mayweather 24/7" in which they will detail the upcoming fight, both fighters and their respective training camps. The first installment will be televised on Sunday night, April 15.
Want more numbers? De La Hoya has fought on HBO 29 times; Mayweather, 20.
"My hands have been feeling great," Mayweather said regarding his chronic hand injures. "And I've been feeling tremendous."
All this, and Floyd Mayweather Sr. isn't training De La Hoya. Imagine the press conference we would have had if he did train "The Golden Boy." But according to Ellerbe, the relationship between Floyd Jr. and Senior is not nearly as bad as the media portrays it. "They always talk," Ellerbe told Fightnews.
So why does the media say the opposite? "Because that's the media. That's what their job is; to create a story." So they actually do speak? "Yeah that's his dad," Ellerbe said.
Could a Mayweather reunion be brewing? Stay tuned...
 

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