It's official now – Juan Manuel Marquez will definitely lose to Floyd Mayweather Jr. this coming Saturday night. The worst thing that could possibly happen to Marquez happened when Golden Boy Promotions CEO Oscar De La Hoya tabbed Marquez to win. Obviously De La Hoya has to back the fighter who fights under his promotional umbrella. However, the scary part is it sounds as if he's really given it some thought and is almost trying to convince himself.
Oscar De La Hoya has been the biggest star in boxing since he turned pro after the 1992 Olympics 17 years ago. He learned how to work the holes in the system from Bob Arum on the way up. Early in his career fighting between junior lightweight and junior welterweight he won a lot of his bouts versus marquee opponents on the scale. Once he matured and fought at his natural weight of 147, Oscar wasn't overwhelming versus the best opponents he fought.
Oscar recently said, “Styles make fights and I'm sure Marquez has dissected Mayweather's style.I went down to Mexico and saw him train with my own eyes. I saw how much he bulked up; I saw how much strength he has gained; I saw how seriously he's taking this fight. I'm convinced he will win this fight. He's looking sharp, he's looking fast and he's looking strong.”
Lets hope so for Marquez's sake that De La Hoya's handicapping skills have improved, because Oscar hasn't always been the best fight strategist on fight night himself. Simply put Oscar has a terrible track record of scouting fighters and developing sound fight plans.
A quick review of some of De La Hoya's signature fights clearly indicates that he wasn't the greatest at dissecting his opponent’s style. Who can forget how after out boxing Felix Trinidad and making him look like his feet were stuck in the mud for nine rounds, Oscar stopped fighting and did all he could not to engage Trinidad. Granted, the decision was a robbery and De La Hoya should've won the fight 115-113. The point is he stopped boxing and fighting with the fight on the line and left the door open for the decision to go against him.
Two fights later Oscar fought Shane Mosley and once again adopted the wrong strategy. Since Mosley was moving up from lightweight to welterweight, De La Hoya didn't use the ring and instead of boxing Mosley he fought as the predator. Mosley picked Oscar apart and won the decision via him taking over the fight during the last six rounds after they split the first six. Three years later Oscar fought Mosley again and this time he used the ring and boxed and lost a disputed decision.
The following year De La Hoya challenged undisputed middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins. Leading up to the fight Hopkins said he was going to take the fight to De La Hoya and make him fight for his life. On fight night Hopkins fooled Oscar and fought as the counter-puncher and conned De La Hoya into thinking he was safe pushing the fight. In the seventh and eighth rounds Hopkins turned the tables on Oscar and went on the attack. In the ninth round with De La Hoya fighting to stay away and buy time he was stopped by a left hook to the body.
In his last fight De La Hoya challenged Manny Pacquiao who was campaigning as a lightweight at the time, to fight him at welterweight. Oscar figured he would have his way with the smaller and quicker Pacquiao. Instead of making the most of the only advantages he had his size and physical strength. De La Hoya drained himself down to the welterweight limit weeks before the fight and looked like an empty package during the bout. No doubt Pacquiao played a major role in that, but De La Hoya clearly weakened himself in getting down to weight so early so he didn't look like he was trying to take advantage of the smaller fighter. In the end De La Hoya threw away the only aspect of his game that may have made a difference in how he looked and fought.
Oscar De La Hoya deserves his respect as a fighter. He was an outstanding fighter, not a great one. That said, he did fight the best fighters of his era. Oscar lost some fights he should've won and also was awarded a few decisions he maybe shouldn't have been the benefactor of. However, the most frustrating thing about watching De La Hoya fight over the years was he often made winnable fights tougher than they should've been.
Against Floyd Mayweather, (who happens to be Marquez's opponent) De La Hoya went from fighting a perfect fight to fighting one of the dumbest of his career. For the first five rounds De La Hoya was not only beating Mayweather but had him stymied by using his long left jab and not trying win by knockout. When De La Hoya was using the jab he was controlling Mayweather and wasn't getting countered in return. Then for no reason he just stopped fighting from behind it and started looking to hurt and take Mayweather out. Only Floyd fed off of that and went on to basically control the last eight rounds of the bout to earn what should've been a unanimous decision. Again, the frustrating part of that was Mayweather had nothing to do with Oscar changing his style whatsoever. Mayweather had no answer for his jab and was almost at De La Hoya's mercy while Oscar was making it the dominant punch during the fight. In what had become a familiar pattern in major fights versus a marquee opponent once again De La Hoya had a mental lapse and completely stopped doing what was working for the first third of the fight.
De La Hoya finished his thoughts on Marquez fighting Mayweather with, “you know Marquez is coming at you right from the get-go, right from the start. I just feel Mayweather's going to have to be playing catch-up in the fight.” Something that isn't so. It will be Mayweather who is controlling the fight from outside and forcing Marquez to press and carry the fight which will work against him in this bout. Not to mention on HBO Mayweather-Marquez 24/7, Marquez looks bogged down some by the extra weight (not that speed was ever his strong suit) and Nacho Beristain knows it and looks concerned.
De La Hoya had his best success by jabbing Mayweather to the head and chest and then stopped doing it. Marquez can't out jab Floyd and like De La Hoya will be dissected going for the knockout. Then again he doesn't really have any other choice.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com