After a long hiatus, Oscar De La Hoya returns to active duty Saturday night against Ricardo Mayorga at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas for El Matador’s super welterweight title, in a bout televised on HBO PPV. All the bad blood and bad words and bad behavior that preceded the fight will hopefully boil down to two fighters with bad intentions who finally let their fists and not their mouths do the talking. Mayorga’s foolish, and perhaps desperate, last-ditch effort to hold the contest hostage for more money notwithstanding, this looks to be the big fight in a season of big fights everyone is looking forward to. This is how The Sweet Science writers see De La Hoya-Mayorga.

Boxing is not always the sweet science. When Ricardo Mayorga takes on Oscar De La Hoya, he will try to turn their encounter into a street fight. Mayorga is strong, aggressive and double-tough. His brutal knockout loss to Felix Trinidad has done nothing to reduce the size of his cojones. Mayorga will be dangerous early to a De La Hoya who has been out of the ring for more than a year and a half, the longest layoff of his career. But as the rust wears off, the Golden Boy will find his rhythm and his range. Following his last long layoff, Oscar overcame early danger, then dismantled steroid-strengthened Fernando Vargas. Against Mayorga, De La Hoya’s superior skills will lead him to a comfortable points victory.
David Berlin

I think this fight follows the same pattern as Mayorga-Trinidad. I think Mayorga has some success, I think he might even rattle Oscar, or drop him. But by the mid to late rounds, Oscar's speed and power will begin to take an incredible toll. Mayorga has no real defense, so by the 10th he'll be a sitting duck. He doesn't make it out of that round. Oscar by TKO in 10.
Robert Cassidy Jr.

We all love Oscar De La Hoya and hate Ricardo Mayorga. We're agreed on that. Good guy versus bad guy is the circumstance with which we're dealing. And yet somehow, I have a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. I don't want to discount the Golden Boy, but I can't go with my heart. Ricardo Mayorga is sloppy, no matter how many times he actually threw a jab instead of windmilling his way to the WBC crown last summer. My fear is he will land one of those wild nasties – call it a lucky shot – right to the Golden Boy's body and crumple him right there. Do I want this to happen? No, but it just might. Ah, but my heart does have one solid argument for Oscar: He's a smart fighter. He'll probably have the angles covered and the gloves prepared to knock down any of the garbage pitched his direction. The Golden Boy comes out of this one smelling like a rose after 12 rounds, and my heart wins out with a little help from Oscar’s mind.
Jesse K. Cox

If Oscar De La Hoya was in his prime, there wouldn’t be any need to predict the winner. De La Hoya is one of the most skilled boxers ever, he is fast and can punch. He would have been champion even in the 1950s when the talented fighters abounded. Ricardo Mayorga is just a brawler. He became welterweight and light middleweight champion only because there are too many sanctioning bodies in the business. His last performance against Michele Piccirillo was mediocre: Mayorga clowned, moved a lot and never looked on the verge of scoring a KO. Mayorga showed that he cannot even understand when his opponent is in trouble and go for the kill: Piccirillo threw a ridiculous number of punches indicating that he wasn’t at his best. Did Mayorga knock him out? No, he couldn’t get the job done. If Piccirillo was in perfect conditions, he would have beaten Mayorga just like he defeated Cory Spinks who outclassed Mayorga. Even if De La Hoya is not in his prime, he will find a way to beat Mayorga. The insults that Oscar was forced to hear from Mayorga will give the Golden Boy an extra motivation to give a serious lesson to El Matador.
Luca De Franco

Though he's had some poor showings in his last few fights and he's not the fighter he was, I don't think Oscar is burned out just yet. I think he still has a couple good fights in him, and I believe his disgust with Mayorga's little head games will put him in the right frame of mind. He wins when Mayorga decides to quit in the later rounds.
Rick Folstad

The prevailing feeling among boxing enthusiasts is that De La Hoya is way too smart for Mayorga. That being said, Mayorga always brings the x-factor into the ring. The x-factor being Mayorga's paralyzing punches that have knocked many of his opponents into dreamland. Yes, Tito handled him easily but Mayorga was fighting at a much higher weight with questionable training and serious legal obligations outside the ring that must've been distracting. I will make the safe prediction and go with De La Hoya but I believe that Mayorga is a live underdog. Don't be surprised if De La Hoya ends up tasting the canvas at least once.
Ralph Gonzalez

Unless Oscar de la Hoya has fallen completely apart, I just can't see him losing to the rough-but-oh-so-hittable Ricardo Mayorga.  Forget de la Hoya's layoff…neither guy has been active. I have the feeling Oscar will look as sharp as ever. It's Oscar by TKO in 9.
Randy Gordon

I'm going with Oscar. Mayorga will implode from all his pre-fight hate and malcontent against a better prepared and confident De la Hoya. Mayorga will be worn out from insulting Mrs. Oscar, fighting with Don King for more money and from being, in general, a nasty person. His fight is over before he even gets to the ring.
Amy Green

This is the walkout fight. My main interest on Saturday is in Louisville where I think I have a live longshot (no, I'm not telling you, dear readers, thank me later for protecting your pockets). Ricardo Mayorga is a chin, a punch and a big mouth. Who knows what Oscar is at this stage? Therefore, a reasoned, logical prediction seems impossible. Long odds are tempting to take on Mayorga – Oscar has not been a banger at 154 (Fernando Vargas aside, and who knows what effect the juice had on his stamina?). He has faded in many fights (Trinidad, Molina, Miguel Angel Gonzalez). If he doesn't take out Mayorga early, or at least cut him up, he could be in trouble late. But this is a fight where I shall let my emotions take over and pick Oscar because I want to see him win (and set up a Mayweather biggie) and I want to see Mayorga's mouth shut. So, it's Oscar by TKO9.
Michael Katz

I can't say I have been on a roll of late having picked Raheem over Freitas; however, I have to go with De La Hoya over Mayorga. Fighting at 154 should give Oscar enough hand speed and movement for him to avoid Mayorga's gorilla tactics early on in the fight. Having smoked three packs a day since he was a kid has got to have taken some of the high end cardio capacity from Ricardo the Ruthless. Working to the body has been a tactic missing from the De La Hoya playbook for some years. Look for De La Hoya to go to the body of Mayorga and use his sound fundamentals to win over the distance.
Patrick Kehoe

Skills get the job done and Oscar is light years ahead of the free-swinging Mayorga in class here. If a boxer beats a puncher, as they have been known to do, De La Hoya wins easily. I expect a few anxious moments as Mayorga tries to take advantage of the Golden Boy's ring rust early in the bout. After that it should be a precision attack upstairs and down behind a piercing jab and laser left hook that puts De La Hoya on the winning track again and champion once more.
Joey Knish

Oscar was embarrassed by his weak showing against Felix Sturm. Getting KO'd by Hopkins with that body shot made him feel worse. He may not follow through on everything he says (he claimed he'd fight four times this year!), but I do believe he's in great shape and highly motivated. We don't know what he's got left in his legs…but I'm guessing it's enough to outbox the wild Nicaraguan. De La Hoya by decision.
Zachary Levin

Not many will dispute Ricardo Mayorga has a big mouth with a tendency towards smack-talking. He's the bad guy of the pair and De La Hoya the good guy, the “Golden Boy,” this contrast of personalities makes for an interesting backdrop to the fight. I stopped being a fan of De Le Hoya once he decided to become a promoter, singer, fighter and personality extraordinaire. Call me picky but I like it when a fighter focuses only on being a fighter and doesn't think he's above the harsh demands of the sport. Once a fighter starts off in other directions, it doesn't matter who he is and how skilled he is, he's not giving 100% towards the sport. After all, who does he think he is, Roy Jones (snicker, snicker)? De La Hoya has arguably lost his last three fights in a row including the Sturm fight yet he somehow has the audacity to think after nearly 20 months of inactivity he'll jump into the ring, beat up on Mayorga and then close out his career winning a superfight against Winky Wright, Floyd Mayweather or Felix Trinidad. Mayorga has a big mouth, De La Hoya a big head.  This is one of those times when the dastardly villain may prove the “good guy” doesn't always win but I wouldn't count on it. Big head or not, De La Hoya is too skilled a fighter for Mayorga and thus, like him or not, De La Hoya via 12 round decision. That said, I wouldn't be at all surprised, or disappointed if De La Hoya ends up on his back in the later rounds of the fight.
Scott Mallon

I think De La Hoya is in for a rougher night than he might think. While the smart money says he should win, I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if Mayorga stops him. In the end greats like De La Hoya often lose to someone they would have handled easily a few years prior. With no real enthusiasm, I pick him to squeak through this one to set up a sensational career finale with Floyd Mayweather Jr.  De La Hoya W 12
Robert Mladinich

Only Vargas has come close to Mayorga's verbal assault of the Golden Boy. If history holds true then Oscar should punish Mayorga worse than any fighter he's ever fought. De La Hoya comes into this fight well-rested and anxious to show us that he's still got his stuff. Mayorga's words were stuffed in his face against the hard-hitting Trinidad, but I suspect he'll give Oscar a more difficult fight considering how motivated and prepared he seems to be. Still, the difference in talent should be evident and I expect Oscar to survive an early onslaught and then outclass Mayorga, beating him up late in the fight and taking a clear-cut decision.
Benn Schulberg

When last seen in the ring, Oscar De La Hoya was gasping for air after being dispatched by Bernard Hopkins. Now on Saturday night, about 20 months later, the Golden Boy will collect several millions of dollars more to challenge Ricardo Mayorga, the loose horse who won the vacant WBC super welterweight title about nine months ago. De La Hoya goes into the fight with a 2-2-0 record in three years, while Mayorga also is 2-2-0 in the last 29 months. That the fight is on pay-per-view is an indication of the lack of pay-per-view fighters, and whether the Golden Boy wins or loses, this should be the fight that cooks HBO's pay-per-view golden goose. De La Hoya, the up-and-coming promoter, obviously feels that Mayorga is the right opponent to send De La Hoya, the faded fighter, out a winner. I agree, but I would not bet the ranch on it, especially if Mayorga is still around late.
Ed Schuyler

Ricardo Mayorga is crazy, wild, and stupid. However he has one show-stopping trait which cannot be taught or acquired over time… raw power. If De La Hoya shows all guts and no brains he will get caught, and he will go down in Vernon Forrest fashion. However, I don't see that happening. De La Hoya is too smart and ring savvy. Mayorga has already completed an arduous task in getting under the Golden Boy's skin, but this only seems to bring out the best in De La Hoya, as we saw in the Vargas fight. Look for Mayorga to come out fast and try to end it the same way. De La Hoya will escape the first two rounds with seasoned wisdom and begin to use his 4-inch reach advantage to put on a very smart, artistic boxing lesson for the next seven or eight rounds. After the systematic breakdown of Mayorga I believe De Le Hoya will settle his personal vendetta in the most brutal of ways. The Golden Boy TKO in 11.
Alex Stone

There was a time when I thought Ricardo Mayorga had the potential to be a boxing superstar, but that moment has since passed. “El Matador’s” straight ahead charges have proven to be no match for a composed fighter with a moderate power and superior quickness, i.e. Oscar De La Hoya. Mayorga’s relentlessness will produce an exciting first three rounds, but De La Hoya’s attack will eventually pick him apart. De La Hoya by late round TKO.
Aaron Tallent

My pred: you will get your money's worth on this one. Mayorga is always ready to rumble and Oscar has aged enough so that he's incapable of being too cute. He'll have to trade and I don't think he hurts Ricardo enough to keep the madman off him. Potential for upset here is great. What the hey – here goes…..Mayorga KO 7.
Michael Woods

The closer it gets to fight time the more it looks like Mayorga is Oscar's most well chosen opponent since Arturo Gatti. De La Hoya in 8.
Phil Woolever