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MOSLEY VS. DE LA HOYA II Super-welterweight championship,
tonight, card starts at 6, pay-per-view | WHY DE LA
HOYA WILL WIN

Decisions, Decisions

He has won some big ones, but with Oscar, you know it will be a fight for the wages

September 13, 2003|Randy Harvey

LAS VEGAS — Bruce Trampler, matchmaker for promoter Bob Arum's Top Rank Inc., knows he can keep Oscar De La Hoya's attention for only so long when they're discussing potential opponents.

"I'll be talking about this guy who's a puncher or this guy who's a southpaw, and then Oscar begins to tap his pencil," Trampler says.

"I'll say, 'Oscar, I know what you want to talk about. But please humor me. Let me finish.'

"Oscar's polite, so he'll listen for a while. Then the pencil begins to tap again."

De La Hoya can't wait to get to the bottom line. About the only question he ever has, Tramper says, is how much a fight is going to pay.

"Everybody talks about styles and who's a good opponent and who's not a good opponent for Oscar," Trampler says. "But when we're making a fight, Oscar couldn't care less about that. He doesn't let it dictate whether he's going to take a fight or not."

Trampler's observation tells you two things about De La Hoya that will serve him well in tonight's fight at the MGM Grand against Shane Mosley.

One is that De La Hoya is fearless.

Two is that he cares deeply about money.

So when he agreed to pay $500,000 from his own purse to Mosley if Mosley wins, only one conclusion could be drawn.

Mosley has no chance.

*

The minority of experts predicting a Mosley victory base their opinion on the split decision he won over De La Hoya at Staples Center in June 2000. One of them is legendary trainer Angelo Dundee, who said this week that nothing has really changed since.

With all due respect to Dundee, a lot has changed.

It's not even the same weight classification. The first one was for the welterweight title, requiring them to weigh in at no more than 147 pounds. This fight is for the super-welterweight title, allowing them seven more pounds.

Mosley's main advantage over De La Hoya in the first fight was quickness. But there is a question about whether Mosley will be as quick with the additional weight.

In his only fight at 154, Mosley was unimpressive in a no-decision against Raul Marquez. De La Hoya has fought three times at 154, never looking better than he did almost a year ago to the day in an 11th-round TKO of Fernando Vargas.

The De La Hoya who beat Vargas was clearly superior to the De La Hoya who lost to Mosley.

De La Hoya finally acknowledged after the Mosley fight that the critics had been right and fired longtime trainer Roberto Alcazar, replacing him with Floyd Mayweather.

You can say what you want about Mayweather's craving for attention, brash personality, dreadful poetry and gauche suits. Forget Oscar De La Hoya. He needs Oscar de la Renta. But you can't say Mayweather hasn't helped De La Hoya.

All Mosley had to do defensively in the first fight was avoid De La Hoya's potent but overused left hand.

"Oscar always fit in well in Las Vegas," boxing historian Bert Sugar says. "He was a one-armed bandit."

But Mayweather has taught De La Hoya how to fight with his right hand, which is doubly important if he loses full power in the chronically painful left. Mayweather also has improved De La Hoya's defense.

"If [Mosley] thinks he's going to face the same fighter, he has another thing coming," De La Hoya said this week. "He will not be able to break through my defense for this fight, I can guarantee you that."

De La Hoya doesn't have to be much better to win. The first fight wasn't decided until the 12th round.

*

Above all else, there is a different dynamic to this fight.

Mosley entered the ring at Staples Center for the first fight undefeated and feeling invincible. De La Hoya had lost for the first time less than nine months before, to Felix Trinidad, and was unhappy with his training, his management and his career, frustrations compounded by the loss to Mosley. De La Hoya had to do several months of soul-searching.

Now it is Mosley who has been forced to look inside himself. With two losses to Vernon Forrest and the no-decision against Marquez, Mosley hasn't won in 26 months.

"Sometimes your confidence level tends to go down after not winning three fights," De La Hoya said. "I'm sure Mosley will be physically ready. Mentally, it will be interesting to see how he reacts in the ring."

De La Hoya, in contrast, seems surer of himself than at any other time in his career.

I once had the impression De La Hoya, as proud of he was of his Olympic gold medal, was embarrassed by his "Golden Boy" designation and that he worried that his success was less a product of his boxing skills than it was of Arum's promotional skills.

A lot of people in the Mexican American community questioned his toughness. I think he did too.

That changed after his victory over Vargas, which Arum calls De La Hoya's signature fight. He was a better boxer than Vargas, and when it was necessary, he was a better brawler.

If a boxer is lucky, Sugar says, there are four stages to his career. He fights for his name, for money, for titles and, finally, for his legacy.

De La Hoya is committed to establishing himself as one of the best pound-for-pound fighters of all time.

And, of course, he still likes the money.

De La Hoya will avenge his loss to Mosley in a unanimous decision.

*

Randy Harvey can be reached at randy.harvey@latimes.com.

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