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Fight of the Century has it all

Saturday night when Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather hook up, boxing will have something it hasn't had in forever: a mega fight - a carefully constructed event of epic proportions.

By JOHN COTEY
Published May 2, 2007


Saturday night when Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather hook up, boxing will have something it hasn't had in forever: a mega fight - a carefully constructed event of epic proportions. The moons aligned, Jupiter's house hooked up with the Star of Venus, if those things even exist, and voila! A pretty good reason to drop some change on a pay-per-view. Here are the ingredients that make this the Fight of the Century:

1. Public clamor

By clamor, we mean the 13 boxing fans who haven't jumped ship to Ultimate Fighting. But we contacted all of them and they said yes, they would probably pay $54.95 to see De La Hoya and Mayweather fight, provided it was on a weekend they weren't doing anything, a Rocky rerun wasn't on TNT and Chuck Liddell wasn't fighting that month.

But clearly, this was the fight everyone wanted to see once De La Hoya knocked out Ricardo Mayorga and Mayweather dominated Carlos Baldomir.

2. Smooth negotiations

Floyd gets roughly $12-million. Oscar gets roughly $20-million.

Where do we sign?

3. Family feuding

Even Mary J. Blige can't imagine this kind of drama. Follow along:

Big Floyd Sr. used to train Little Floyd Jr. 'til he went away to the big house for drug trafficking. Roger, Big Floyd's brother, took over training Little Floyd. Then when Big Floyd came back, Little Floyd wasn't all that interested. Big Floyd ended up with Oscar. But then he wanted $2-million to train Oscar for Little Floyd. Oscar said no. Big Floyd shows up at the first news conference on Little Floyd's side. Take that, Oscar! But Big Floyd got on Roger's nerves during camp. And Little Floyd said some unflattering things about Big Floyd on HBO. Big Floyd got mad, and he left Little Floyd again.

Got all that?

4. Big news conference to kick event off

News conference? As in just one? Ha! Golden Boy Promotions laughs at you and your one news conference!

For this fight, the two combatants embarked on an 11-city tour, with a new script for each stop. It started with both guys lifting their shirts to prove who had the better abs (Mayweather, by the way, but Oscar was surprisingly ripped) and ranged from equipment theft (Mayweather's crew allegedly stole De La Hoya's boxing gear at one stop) to the requisite trash talking (which means Mayweather, who is supremely gifted at such things, talked and De La Hoya's face turned red).

We don't want to say the whole thing got a little contrived by the final stop, but when Mayweather called De La Hoya a "big booger head" and the Golden Boy fired back by claiming he was the rubber and Pretty Boy was the glue, well, it was time to end the thing.

5. A good guy

De La Hoya is an Olympic gold medalist and a carefully marketed, well-spoken superstar with good looks and a $25-million smile. He's also an adult contemporary Grammy-nominated singer with a voice handed down from the gods. Except for that whole voice from god thing, which we made up, it all makes the guy the most popular fighter on the planet.

6. A bad guy

Mayweather will trash talk your dead grandmother if he has to. He's brash, utterly self-absorbed and doesn't appear to respect anyone or anything. Makes you want to punch him, really, which is completely the opposite of the other consummate bad guy, Mike Tyson, who just made you soil yourself.

7. HBO

HBO is throwing everything behind this fight. Apparently, even the writers in charge of making the Sopranos interesting have been reassigned to making sure the reality series promoting the fight comes off a winner. And if you are sick of all the hype, just wait until Jim Lampley starts announcing the fight.

8. 24/7

Best ... show ... ever. We love to watch boxers training. It's like a symphony. But this four-part reality series takes us behind the scenes ... so behind, in fact, it makes us just a tad uncomfortable.

In one scene, 50 Cent shows up at Mayweather's house riding a Segway through the place as the champ is getting a haircut and thumbing through a roll of $100 bills and cussing De La Hoya out with a barrage of f-bombs.

Meanwhile, in Puerto Rico, HBO puts on the soft lighting as De La Hoya watches (yawwwwwwn) the Masters.

"This is a business. I understand that, " Mayweather said this week. "But, man, that's boring."

The Mayweathers, America's most dysfunctional family, are anything but. Roger Mayweather deserves some kind of an award for his performances. Throw this guy on Entourage or something, because he is magic. If 24/7 doesn't spawn a spinoff sitcom with Roger as the senile uncle and 50 as the obnoxious neighbor who keeps stopping by unannounced on his Segway, we're canceling our HBO subscription.

9. A title belt

Uhhh ... next?

10. A great matchup

The best fighter in the world against the most popular fighter. Pretty Boy against Golden Boy. Two wonderfully gifted former Olympians. And no clear favorite.

If that translates well in the ring Saturday, it will make boxing the hottest sport in the country.

Until Monday, that is.