04.05.06 - By Tim Nielson: On Saturday night Ricardo Mayorga (28-5, 23 KO's) defends his WBC light middleweight title over challenger Oscar De La Hoya (37-4, 29 KO's), as the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino, in Las Vegas, Nevada. To b honest, both of these fighters are clearly on the downsides of their careers, especially De La Hoya, who has lost two of his last three fights.. Although, some would say (this author included) that Oscar has lost three fights in a row, considering his gift decision against middleweight Felix Sturm, in June 2004. Whereas, Mayorga, 32,has lost two out of his last four fights and not been overly impressive even in his two winning efforts. With the obvious signs of wear and tear on both fighters, it's a wonder that it was ever considered for PPV. However, I suppose with De La Hoya's huge following, he would be able to fight on PPV whether he's winning his fights are not, since people only seem to remember him in his youth, not his last few years.
By all accounts, this fight is a setup for De La Hoya, who if he comes out on top, would like to fight one more time on September 16, 2006, against a fighter such as Floyd Mayweather Jr. or Winky Wright. Nevertheless, I have serious doubts whether that dream will ever come to fruition, for Mayorga, a fierce puncher, will be one tough customer for De La Hoya, 32, to deal with in the ring.
Yes, both fighters are close to the same age, however, Mayorga appears to be the younger fighter and is still quite dangerous in the ring due to his power and unorthodox style of fighting. Just as was the case with De La Hoya looking ahead to Hopkins when he was fighting Sturm, it seems to be a similar circumstance here with Mayorga. I think personally, De La Hoya is making a huge mistake and will probably pay for it by taking another beating.
You might be wondering, "Why is Oscar coming back after two months of ring inactivity to fight Mayora, since he's so fabulously rich?" To tell you the truth, I have no idea. He clearly doesn't need this fight, so why do it? I could understand it if he was hurting for money but he's clearly not. No, I think the real reason has more to do with cementing his legacy, as he's taken a real hit with his 9th round stoppage loss to Bernard Hopkins in September 2004, as well as a 12-round decision loss to Shame Mosley in September 2003. Clearly, not the way he imagined he would be going out of the ring. However, as much as I respect him for wanting to do this, I don't think it's going to be a success, not against someone as good as Mayorga.
Indeed, De La Hoya has seemed to be on a downward slide since his loss to his to Felix Trinidad in September 1999. At that time, however, De La Hoya still had most of his skills intact, yet he was beginning to show poor stamina in the later rounds of his fights. Three years later, in 2002, De La Hoya beat Fernando Vargas, who from, my perspective, wasn't the same fighter after having been beaten up and knocked out by Felix Trinidad. Following that loss, De La Hoya, once again, lost to Mosley, this time in 2003. Again, as was the case the last time around, De La Hoya's poor stamina was clearly evident in the later rounds, when Mosley turned the fight around. For an aging fighter, stamina is the first thing to go.
Quite obviously, this is fight has the potential to be one of the most important in De La Hoya's career, since it's the final piece to his legacy, and it's imperative that he wins. What makes it even more interesting, to me, is that De La Hoya will be doing with much less of his physical skills that he had in the past. In a way, it's comparable to the great Ali, who in his later years, depended a lot on his great ring knowledge to win a lot of fights with younger and stronger opponents.
With all that said, I don't expect De La Hoya will be able to defeat Mayorga on Saturday night. The Nicaraguan fighter just appears to be the larger and hungrier fighter at this point, and when you add in his power advantage, I see for an ugly outcome for De La Hoya. Look for Mayoraga to win this by 8th round knockout, after having put a severe beating on De La Hoya. Following this fight, I predict that De La Hoya will announce his retirement rather than taking the chance and facing future beatings to younger fighters, such as Mayweather or Wright.