Never give a mic to a Mayweather...
Boxing wasn't saved tonight, but it's not dead, either. After months of HBO hype, the De La Hoya vs. Mayweather PPV proved to be more sizzle than steak, but what steak existed was decent. Let's go to the card: First of all, I will say that this was one of the worst undercards for a PPV I have seen in ages. Only two pre-fights, and no real star power in either of them. It's as if Oscar De La Hoya was so involved in being Oscar the fighter that he forgot to tell Oscar the promoter to put together a good card for him.
Fight #1: Rey "Boom Boom" Bautista (22-0, 17 KOs) vs. Sergio "Rocky" Medina (28-0, 16 KOs), featherweight fight for WBO #1 ranking
This was the better of the two undercard matches. Both fighters were undefeated; Bautista is a 20-year-old up-and-comer from the Phillippines, Medina an Argentine with an impressive home record fighting his first U.S fight.
Bautista was clearly the harder puncher, and impressed me with his superb balance. His only flaw was that his body blows tended to run on the low side, which ended up earning him 3 warnings over the first four rounds and then a point deduction in the 5th. He knocked Medina down in the 6th and 11th rounds, partly due to his punching power, partly due to Medina's lack of balance. Medina was able to knock down Bautista in the 7th, and made a good effort in this fight, but his punches were on the sloppy side, allowing Bautista to get straight shots in, and his balance was terrible, which reduced the effectiveness of the punches he threw and allowed Bautista to knock him down easier.
Winner by unanimous decision: Rey Bautista
Jade's Fight Grade: A-/B+ Nothing spectacular, but a good solid fight.
Fight #2: Rocky Juarez (26-3, 19 KOs) vs. Jose Hernandez (22-3, 14 KOs), featherweights
You could subtitle this fight "The Tortoise vs. The Hare". Hernandez the hare was busy, busy, busy, jab-jab-jab, always on the move. Juarez was the tortoise; shorter, more compact, slower to move and even slower to throw a punch. When he did throw a punch, though, it was a hard punch, and he when he knocked down Hernandez in the second round, I think everyone believed that this was going to be a short fight. No such luck; we the viewers and the audience got ten more rounds of peppery jabs vs. slow and steady--and we were all bored out of our ever-loving minds. When you look into the crowd and three-quarters of your ringside seats are chatting on cell phones even as far as six rows back, you know it's a boring fight. The early word on this fight was that it was on the lopsided side in Juarez' favor, that Hernandez wasn't a heavy enough hitter and couldn't take the kind of punches that Juarez was known to deliver. Apparently nobody told Juarez that he was supposed to deliver any punches, though, because he barely threw a thing--and it wasn't always because of Hernandez' repeated jabs. Harold Lederman scored the fight 114-113, with Juarez barely winning by virtue of his earlier knockdown, but the judges were far more generous.
Winner by unanimous decision: Rocky Juarez
Jade's Fight Grade: D Rocky Juarez needs to learn to throw some punches if he wants to advance any further in the featherweight division. I've seen him do better; he should have knocked Hernandez out in five, six at most.
At this point, I'm ready to ask for my $65 back. I've sat through one good fight, one boring-as-hell fight and been forced to suffer through one of Floyd Mayweather, Sr.'s Mushmouth impersonations. One has to pity Floyd, Sr.a little: not only was he dumb enough to get himself bounced as Oscar's trainer by asking for two million dollars to help Oscar fight his son, he gets himself bounced out of Floyd, Jr.'s camp because he and his son just can't get along. The only reason he's even at the fight is because Oscar got him a ticket.
Lots of star power at the fight, if not in the fights: Bernard Hopkins, Shane Mosley, John Madden, Tom Jones, Jack Nicholson, Wesley Snipes, Will Ferrell, Magic Johnson, Ron Howard, John Cusack, Jim Carrey, Sean "Puffy" Combs, Mary J. Blige, Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire, and Tommy Lasorda among those either pointed out in the crowd or spotted at ringside.
And now, the main event:
Fight #3: Oscar De La Hoya (38-4, 30 KOs) (c.) vs. Floyd Mayweather, Jr. (37-0, 24 KOs), 154-lb. title fight
Yet again, Floyd Mayweather proves he has the skill to impress, but not the showmanship to be impressive. His most notable display was his entrance dressed as Speedy Gonzales, wearing the colors of Mexico and a sombrero on backwards. The HBO crew thought the backwards hat was a little jab at the crowd and Oscar. It wasn't--Floyd's not smart enough to be that subtle, he just doesn't know how to wear a hat. He should have saved some of that act for the ring. Instead, we get a great technical performance (good counter-punching, efficient punching, great speed even after moving up in weight), but nothing to make you sit up in your seat and go "Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaamn." He promised the world he would "annihilate" De La Hoya, but did nothing to fulfill that promise. In my opinion, a great fighter is either someone who wows you with efficient brutality (like Tyson in his prime before Don King got his hooks into him) or someone who delivers as much heart and soul in their performance as they do skill (think any of the Mickey Ward/Arturo Gatti fights). Floyd Mayweather does neither.
Oscar De La Hoya, on the other hand, put his heart and soul into this match, if not enough of his jab. Few expected Oscar to win tonight, but I think he surprised everyone, including Mayweather, with his aggressiveness, his increased use of body shots and his increased stamina. He threw far more punches than Floyd did; had more of them actually landed, this fight might have had a different outcome, but it was more than people expected. There were moments that he'd just unload on Floyd, fists flying, and you weren't sure how much of it was connecting, but it made you sit up in your seat and take notice. That's the kind of display people pay money to see. They don't necessarily care that a fight's technically good, they want to see someone fight like they give a damn about the outcome, and that's what Oscar De La Hoya did.
In a way, I think Oscar got a wee bit screwed on the outcome, because he went into that fight as the champion, and good as Floyd was, he didn't necessarily do enough to beat the champion. Had he knocked Oscar out, knocked him down, or at least messed him up a little, I would say he earned that belt, but he didn't do any of that. if anything, Oscar looked just as pretty as he did when he stepped in the ring, and Floyd was the one looking a little ragged around the edges.
This fight was hyped as the world taking sides, and so it was with the judges. The one New Jersey judge scored it 115-113 for Oscar, and the two Nevada judges scored it 116-112 and 115-113 for Floyd.
Winner by split decision (and new champion): Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
Jade's Fight Grade: A-/B+ Had Floyd Mayweather shown as much heart and soul as Oscar De La Hoya did, this would have been a great match, but instead, it's just good. Just the fact that it was a split decision tells you how powerful Oscar's performance was. If anything, Floyd may have won the fight, but I think in the long run, when you look at where the money will go in the future, I'd say Oscar came out on top.
Overall PPV Grade: B-/C+ Not a complete waste of money, but definitely not worth the hype. Give me a partial refund and I'll be happy.