Predictions are for the most part useless, especially so if I made a prediction that turned out to be wrong.
Picking winners in boxing is particularly hard, because one boxer, with superior skills, may simply have an off night, and lose.
A boxer might be having marital woes that us pundits know nothing about. That may weigh negatively on his psyche, and cause him to lack mental focus, and as a result lose a fight.
In a team sport, teammates can pick up the slack, but in boxing, the lone athlete is on the stage with just his foe. So predicting boxing outcomes is somewhat of a fool's errand. But that doesn't mean we won't have a crack at it, break out the crystal ball and guess what will happen on Saturday evening on May 5th, when Oscar De La Hoya, boxing's lone remaining superpower, tries to hand the game's most complex figure, Floyd Mayweather, the first loss of his pro career.
Oh, and readers: TSS wants to be the boxing website that best allows you to voice your opinion, so feel free to leave a comments after reading this piece.
Go ahead, tell us what you think will go down on Saturday night. Think Oscar will go down? Think PBF will get rattled, and freeze up? Tell us what you see in your crystal ball.
First, check out these guesses from the TSS Prediction Squad:
We have two versatile fighters here. Over the course of his illustrious career, De La Hoya has alternately displayed the grace of an artist and the delinquent disposition of a brawler. Floyd has shown knockout ability over the years, but more recently he has become all too aware of the fact that he's the best dancer the sweet science has to offer. But for Oscar to win here, it would seem that he must be the aggressor. Floyd is that good and his approach is more likely to determine the style of the fight.
I think Oscar knows he can't “out-box” the quick and elusive PBF. Plus, he probably would not trust such an approach after his infamous disputed loss to Tito Trinidad where he employed that approach. Count on him looking to take advantage of any size and strength advantage over Floyd that he may perceive.
Unfortunately for Oscar, PBF is just too much to handle for a part time fighter like himself. Mayweather is slippery as a greased pig and will not allow De La Hoya to trap him against the ropes. Floyd moves too well in open space for De La Hoya to land shots consistently enough to hurt him much and Mayweather's hand speed will nearly guarantee that he wins most rounds.
Perhaps Mayweather will decide in the biggest fight of his life that he will shut up some of his critics (such as Larry Merchant) by kayoing De La Hoya. In that scenario Oscar has a chance to win. Part of the beauty of boxing is that everyone that enters the ring literally has the proverbial “puncher's chance,” but I'd be out of my mind to pick anything but:
PBF by Unanimous Decision
If it's on the up 'n' up–and the prospect of a big payday tantalizing Floyd for a return go and visions of his name joining Hopkins, Mosley and Barrera on the Golden Boy masthead doesn't muddy matters–I don't see Oscar staying with Pretty Boy. Floyd's too fluid, too quick, too versatile. Size and strength: not a factor. Oscar's not a physical fighter, and Floyd's legs are too good. It'll go the distance (a unanimous nod for Floyd) in a snore unworthy of the all-time high PPV gauge.
If the promotion had just trumpeted the truth, imagine how much bigger the plunder would be: The most exciting power-point presentation in history.
Bottom line, Floyd hasn't lost as a pro. Losing hasn't been an option for him, and that success streak will have him in a supremely confident mindset. No, he won't be overconfident, PBF always trains like a convict who has nothing better to do.
Oscar has slipped quite far from his heyday–he was beaten by Hopkins, and I thought Felix Sturm beat him too–while Floyd is at his apex.
Oscar will not be able to find Floyd for a long enough spell to inflict any serious damage, as PBF will quite likely fight with the same tactics and strategies that have brought him here. What, you think suddenly Floyd will turn into Tex Cobb, and start trading shots and invite Oscar to test his chin? No way, no one guards that 0 in the loss column more fiercely than PBF. Cynics thinking that PBF might subconsciously tank in order to further feather his cash stash, worry not.
I see PBF turning in the performance of a lifetime, the one that will give him a bit of the respect he feels he has coming to him. But most of all, I'm hoping this is a scintillating fight, that Oscar pursues like a rabid pitbull, that Floyd stands in the pocket like Steve Grogan and trades like Jim Cramer, and we all feel that we got our money's worth.
Many factors being equally intangible by now in the massive blur of prefight magnification, it may come down to the fact that at any weight, Mayweather is still closer to his peak. If I was betting, I'd probably go with Floyd on the wave of collective logic, but my sentimental pick is De La Hoya, who has a decent chance.
TSS snagged HBO analyst Larry Merchant, the poet laureate of the fistic pundit set. Larry was about to engage in five hours worth of prep meetings, but he generously gave us a quick lowdown on what sort of fight he thinks we'll see on Saturday. Also, Merchant gave us an update on his contract status. “I don't give predictions on fights that I cover. We don't know whether Oscar can pressure Floyd and force a fight or if Floyd will want to make a fight of it. It has the capacity on Floyd's part to be a hit and run fight.” Is Floyd looking nervous to you Larry, and Oscar has stated? “You get closer to the fight, that's part of the fight, putting the other guy under the microscope. Floyd has been ready for this fight all of his life. It's hard to say whether fans will get their money's worth. It'd have to be a helluva fight to live up to the hype. It will be an event, with the celebrities there, and the passionate fans, who'll be rooting for their guy.” And what about that contract Larry? Some other media outlets practically have Max Kellerman sitting in your director's chair as we speak…”It ain't over 'til it's over. We've been at an impasse but these things can be solved at the eleventh hour. We have some time.” If HBO and Merchant can't reach a middle ground, the best in the business at what he does, maybe of all time, would work the May 19 show in a farewell effort. My guess is that the parties will work it out. Larry hasn't lost an inch of his fastball in my eyes, and there's no reason to fix something that ain't broke.
TSS reached out to promoter Lou Dibella, who's in Vegas and will be in the crowd on Saturday. Brooklyn Lou weighed in as an honorary member of our Prediction Squad.
“In a competitive fight, I like Floyd by hard-fought decision,” he said. “But I think this fight happens more than once. If 24/7 goes to Floyd's head, and he changes his style, then he runs a high risk of getting caught. How Floyd fights determines the outcome. If he comes out acting as a character, he could be in extreme danger. But when you have a speed guy versus a straight ahead guy, the straight ahead guy has a slight advantage with the judges,” he said, which may encourage a draw. “I'm liking Floyd, but if he comes out of his game, he could be in deep.”
TSS got HBO play-by-play man Jim Lampley in line at Starbucks, and Lamps offered his take on what he thinks will go down on Saturday night.
“At the height of his reign as pound for pound best, there was only one logical conclusion to a Pernell Whitaker outcome, Whitaker by unanimous decision. At the height of his reign, there was only one logical conclusion to a Roy Jones Jr. fight, Jones by unanimous decision. See where I'm going with this? Mayweather by unanimous decision. I hope it'll be an entertaining fight, but in his last three fights, we've had a hard time finding an entertaining round. He's more interested in winning than entertaining.”
Steve Farhood is calling a ShoBox tonight, but kindly took the time to call TSS and grace us with his informed guess.
“I predict Floyd by decision. I feel we don't know how good Floyd is, and if he's pushed hard enough, he could have a legitimate claim to be on the all-time great list. He's too quick, too smart, too 'now.' Will the fight live up to the hype? It will be fought at a sizzling pace, with brilliant boxing technique, but it won't be Hagler-Hearns. It's up to Oscar to make the fight, and up to Floyd not to run away.”