- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 6, 2007

LAS VEGAS - Floyd Mayweather Jr. used his fast hands and quick combinations to pound out a split decision victory in the super welterweight division last night over Oscar De La Hoya before a sold out crowd at MGM Grand Garden arena.

Judge Jerry Roth scored the fight 115-113 for Mayweather, and judge Chuck Giampa had it 116-112, also for Mayweather. Judge Tom Kaczmarek scored it 115-113 for De La Hoya

Early in the fight, when De La Hoya was able to keep the fight on the ropes and corner Mayweather, he was able to land strong body shots and score some points. But Mayweather dominated the action in the center of the ring, using his superior hand speed to land combinations and hard right hands to begin to wear down De La Hoya as the fight went on.

The win by Mayweather (38-0) would seem to solidify his legacy and go a long way toward his goal of being named among the elite fighters in history. But will there still be more history for Mayweather to make?

After his last fight against Carlos Baldomir in November 2006 a fight Mayweather dominated for 12 rounds as a welterweight Mayweather broke down crying in the post-fight press conference and claimed his next fight would be his last. But during interviews this week, Mayweather has made claims in both directions that yes, he would quit and no, he would not.

“I’ll have to see what your articles say after the fight,” Mayweather told reporters in the days leading up to the fight, even though he had claimed he didn’t read what was written about him.

He earned a guaranteed $12 million for last night’s fight, and if the public is hungry for a rematch against De La Hoya still probably the biggest fight out there in boxing’s current wasteland of big fights it is unlikely Mayweather, at 30 years old and at the peak of his career, would pass up another payday that could earn him even more. Few actually believe this fight was his last.

What about De La Hoya, though? With a record of 38-5, those five losses have come in his last 12 fights Felix Trinidad, Shane Mosley twice, Bernard Hopkins and now Mayweather and many observers believe he lost the decision he was awarded against Felix Sturm in June 2004. At the age of 34, having been among the biggest earners in the history of boxing (he earned a guaranteed $20 million last night) with a host of business ventures including as a boxing promoter with Golden Boy (the fight’s promoters) there appears to be little reason for him to continue.

But De La Hoya has been optimistic about his future in the sport and had not indicated he planned to retire after last night’s fight, no matter the outcome. That could change in light of last night’s loss.

He might consider a rematch, even though he said there was no rematch clause in the contract.

Or he might consider a rematch of an even older defeat, one that has particularly tarnished his career: a controversial 1999 loss to Trinidad. This week, De La Hoya was asked if it haunted him he never got another chance against Trinidad, whom De La Hoya had clearly beaten that night.

“It’s never too late,” De La Hoya said. “It’s never too late.”

Trinidad, who was at last night’s fight, retired after his loss to Winky Wright in May 2005. If De La Hoya continues to fight, another match with Trinidad remains a lucrative option.

If not, De La Hoya will leave boxing with a void that has never been filled since his gold medal victory in 1992 Olympics. De La Hoya won titles in four different weight classes, and with the decline of heavyweight stars Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield, he generated the sport’s greatest revenues. There is no one in the sport or on the horizon who can do that now.

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