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DE LA HOYA VS. MOSLEY II Super-welterweight championship,
Saturday, 6 p.m., pay-per-view | Bill Plaschke

Even for Boxing, This Is Low

September 12, 2003|Bill Plaschke

LAS VEGAS — Two days before celebrating the most hyped fight of the year, the boxing world paused Thursday to solemnly focus its gaze downward.

Shane Mosley's team has formally protested the size of Oscar De La Hoya's protective cup.

No jock, er, joke.

Claimed promoter Gary Shaw: "It's an unfair advantage. He's being protected from fair blows."

Countered De La Hoya: "It's a cup!"

Intelligent dialogue notwithstanding, somebody here is hitting below the belt.

Mosley's team says that, after studying tapes of previous De La Hoya fights, it is obvious that the girdle holding his protective cup rides too high on his hips, thus absorbing fair blows.

De La Hoya's team says that, after studying the charges, it is obvious that Mosley's team is out of its gourd.

Claimed Shaw: "I can see it through his trunks."

Countered De La Hoya: "That's because I wear my trunks short!"

This could be dismissed as the ravings of just another crotchety camp on the eve of a big fight, but Mosley's people are pressing the issue.

A letter of protest has been sent to the Nevada State Athletic Commission.

A demand had been made that Floyd Mayweather Sr., De La Hoya's trainer, produce the cup for examination before the fight.

Said Shaw: "I'm guessing he didn't."

Said Mayweather: "No, I didn't. C'mon, man! A cup don't throw punches."

While their distaste for the cup runneth over, Mosley's camp said it would pipe down as long as referee Joe Cortez consistently reminds De La Hoya to keep his girdle low.

"Once Joe Cortez determines what is fair and foul, De La Hoya is going to have to keep pushing the girdle down," Shaw said.

That sounds good in theory, perhaps, but at least one boxing historian thoughtfully wonders about its practicality.

"What, after each round he's going to be adjusting his shorts?" asked Bert Sugar. "What is this, a fight or a fitting session?"

What this is, of course, is a strategy session.

Mosley is an accomplished body puncher whose path to victory must include a stop at De La Hoya's ribs.

Yet De La Hoya clearly wears an oversized girdle that sometimes blocks those punches.

Mosley wants fair shots. De La Hoya wants those shots to be called low blows. Mosley wants the referee to be at least thinking about it.

Claimed Mosley: "[The girdle] is pretty high. He could be using it to his advantage."

Scoffed De La Hoya: "It's nerves kicking in."

When the protective cup first became popular in boxing, it wasn't the nerves that were getting kicked in.

According to Sugar, a gentleman named Foul-Proof Taylor invented the basic cup in the 1930s, popularizing it in tests with a baseball bat.

"He would go around to boxing camps and illustrated how one could hammer the cup with a bat and it wouldn't hurt," Sugar related.

Would Foul-Proof Taylor actually wear the cup during the tests?

"Heavens no, he wasn't that dumb," Sugar said. "He would always put it on somebody else."

Today, the protective boxing cup has been refined such that, in its Web site advertising, Everlast can confidently make the following claim:

"This basic protector allows you to stay a man after the fight."

Shaw said if De La Hoya insists on being too much of a man, he will fight pad with pad.

"If this is the way they want to do this, we can bring in Shane with a chest protector," he said.

Bob Arum, De La Hoya's promoter, said Mosley's camp is already using tools of ignorance.

"Never in my career has this been an issue," Arum said. "They are obviously playing a psychological game."

Arum said this game is in the same ballpark as Shaw's complaints that Arum has given his fighter a smaller hotel suite, fewer tickets and fewer perks.

Said Arum: "It's very bizarre."

Said Sugar: "Excuse me, I have to go change my cup."

And the cup-holder shrugged.

"It's not easy being the Golden Boy," said De La Hoya, promising to groin and bear it.

*

Bill Plaschke can be reached at bill.plaschke@latimes.com

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