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Middle Man

Carr Will Be Either a Footnote Between De La Hoya's Major Fights--or the Spoiler

May 22, 1999|STEVE SPRINGER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

LAS VEGAS — Oba Carr, meet Steve Patterson.

Patterson is the answer to a college basketball trivia question: Who was UCLA's center between the Lew Alcindor and Bill Walton eras?

Now Carr figures to be the answer to a future boxing trivia question: Who was Oscar De La Hoya's opponent between his blockbuster fights against Ike Quartey and Felix Trinidad?

Carr, who'll challenge De La Hoya for his World Boxing Council welterweight title in tonight's main event at the Mandalay Bay Events Center, sees himself as the answer to another question: Who handed De La Hoya his first defeat?

That doesn't appear likely. De La Hoya (30-0, 24 knockouts) is coming off a decision over Quartey in what was arguably De La Hoya's toughest fight, with a new resolve to return to the aggressive style that launched him on a path to the top of the boxing world.

"You will see a new Oscar, which will really be the old Oscar," he said. "You'll see the big difference."

Not exactly good news for Carr, who, though not considered among the elite welterweights in the world, is 48-2-1 with 28 knockouts and losses only to Quartey and Trinidad, both of whom he knocked down.

But Eddie Carr, Oba's father and trainer, sees hope for his son if De La Hoya maintains the style he used against Quartey, when De La Hoya stood in front of Quartey for many rounds and failed to use his devastating jab.

"Oscar tends to fight at 12 o'clock," Eddie Carr said, "meaning his head is straight up like the hands on a clock all the time. We won't have to search to find his head. When he's like that, Oscar is very robotic.

"Fighters who move around a lot are at 3 o'clock, 6 o'clock and 9 o'clock. But Oscar has been fighting at high noon."

Carr isn't known for having an effective knockout punch. And going into a showdown at high noon without enough firepower is a sure path to disaster.

But, if nothing else, Carr will at least have his place in trivia history.

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Floyd Mayweather seems to have it all--youth, talent, speed, a flashiness and style that elicit thoughts of Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard, and a record of 20-0 with 15 knockouts.

So why is the WBC super-featherweight champion talking retirement at 22?

Mayweather, who will defend his title in the semi-main event tonight against late replacement Justin Juuko, wants the cash to match the hype.

"I may go into a short retirement after this fight," said Mayweather, not sounding very convincing. "If fighters like Oscar De La Hoya, Ike Quartey and Felix Trinidad, if all these guys can make millions, I should too. I've showed what Floyd Mayweather can do. They say I'm the next Sugar Ray Leonard. They say I'm the next Muhammad Ali. Then pay me like I'm the next Sugar Ray Leonard. Pay me like I'm the next Muhammad Ali.

"I just feel I'm not getting treated right. In the sport of boxing, the years go by quick. You've got to get what you can get and get it while you're young."

De La Hoya will get $5 million for his fight tonight and Carr $350,000. Mayweather will earn $400,000.

Many believe Mayweather has earned an increased pay rate. It was said he wasn't ready for a veteran such as Genaro Hernandez, yet Mayweather beat Hernandez on an eighth-round TKO in October. It was said Mayweather wasn't ready for the aggressive style of Angel Manfredy, yet Mayweather stopped Manfredy in the second round in December.

Tonight's fight figures to be a mere tune-up for Mayweather, a chance to show off his blazing hands and dancing feet.

Goyo Vargas was the original opponent, but he dropped out in the middle of the week, claiming to have flu.

Others said Vargas couldn't make the required weight and Lou Dibella, an executive at HBO, which is televising the fight, made clear his disgust with Vargas at a prefight news conference.

"Shame on you," Dibella said of Vargas. "This is the opportunity of a lifetime. I hope you don't get it again."

As for Juuko, a Ugandan, he is 33-2-1 with 25 knockouts but has not beaten a prominent fighter. A former WBC International super-featherweight champion, he is trained by Freddie Roach.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

Tale of the Tape

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DE LA HOYA CARR 147 Weight 147 5-11 Height 5-9 72 Reach 72 39 Chest (normal) 40 42 1/4 Chest (expanded) 42 13 3/4 Biceps 15 12 Forearms 12 31 3/4 Waist 32 21 Thigh 22 13 1/2 Calf 13 1/2 15 1/2 Neck 15 1/2 7 Wrist 7 1/2 9 Fist 12 1/2

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