Tuesday, March 13, 2007

De La Hoya talks Mayweather Jr.

By Elias Cepeda

On May 5th, Oscar De La Hoya will take on Floyd Mayweather Jr. in what is likely to be the biggest fight of the year, and one of the biggest in boxing history, both financially and in terms of the significance of the match-up itself. Last month during a stop on their 11-city publicity tour, both fighters were in Chicago, IL and discussed the fight with reporters individually before the big press conference and pep rally that followed in the UIC Pavilion.

De La Hoya, characteristically quiet and confident, acknowledged the challenges that the younger undefeated Mayweather Jr. will pose. But he also felt that what he will bring to the table will be enough to do the job against the four-division champion.

Conditioning is one such element. Though at 34 years of age, De La Hoya is in the 14th year of his career and four years the senior of Mayweather Jr., Oscar, who is now under the direction of trainer Freddie Roach, insists neither age, nor the speed and conditioning that sometimes fade along with a fighter’s age, will be an issue for him May 5th.

“I feel great, I feel energetic” said Oscar.

De La Hoya has acknowledged that the speed and energy that long-time trainee of Roach, Manny Pacquiao, always brings to his fights was a factor in Oscar himself choosing Roach as his new coach after De La Hoya’s coach of recent years and his upcoming opponent’s father, Floyd Mayweather Sr. and he parted ways. And heading into heavy training with Roach, De La Hoya was confident in the coach’s ability to prepare him for the speedy and younger Floyd Jr.

“We are going to be in the best physical condition possible, he (Floyd Jr.) won’t be able to breathe” promised Oscar.

After fighting antagonists Fernando Vargas and Ricardo Mayorga, who went out of their way during the pre-fight promotion to insult De La Hoya, challenging everything from his manhood to the authenticity of his being “Mexican”, Oscar has become well-acquainted with disrespectful opponents. And though Mayweather Jr. has taken it to another level, Oscar said he respects Floyd Jr. as a fighter and that the mental warfare will only work in his favor.

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