- The Washington Times - Monday, May 7, 2007

LAS VEGAS.

Marc Ratner was in the press room at MGM Grand Garden hours before the big fight between Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr. on Saturday night.

Ratner used to be the executive director of the Nevada Athletic Commission and one of the most respected figures in boxing. He resigned more than a year ago to work for Ultimate Fighting Championship, the mixed martial arts company that is about to start doing business with HBO.

Still, Ratner was used to running around before a big fight in Vegas, taking care of countless details.

“I feel like I should be doing something,” he said.

“Stick around,” I told him. “I’ve got a feeling they’re going to need you tonight.”

Well, they sure could have used somebody.

Mayweather won a split decision over De La Hoya in a competitive but not great fight. I scored the fight eight rounds for Mayweather to four for De La Hoya, 116-112, the same as judge Chuck Giampa.

Judge Tom Kaczmarek scored it 115-113 for De La Hoya and judge Jerry Roth 115-113 for Mayweather. If Roth had scored the final round for De La Hoya, as had the two other judges, the fight would have ended in a draw.

A number of writers at ringside also scored it a draw, but I didn’t think it was that close. As the bout went on, Mayweather dominated the action, keeping the fight in the center of the ring and tiring out De La Hoya, who tried to stalk Mayweather and put him in the corners and against the ropes.

I am not a big fan of the Compubox punchstat numbers, but they overwhelmingly favored Mayweather. He landed 207 punches over 12 rounds to 122 by De La Hoya. Of those punches by Mayweather, 138 were considered power shots to 82 for De La Hoya.

I had predicted chaos for the evening and nearly nailed it. The circus, however, took place after the fight, when it was discovered that the judges’ scorecards were copied and handed out at ringside after the fight and had the fighters in the wrong color corners.

There is a red corner and a blue corner. De La Hoya was in the red corner, Mayweather the blue. But on the scorecards distributed after the fight, Giampa and Roth had the red corner — De La Hoya — winning and the blue corner — Mayweather — the loser.

Richard Schaefer, a partner in the De La Hoya company that promoted last night’s fight, then stood on the ring apron to announce that the scorecards were wrong, sending everyone into a panic.

Schaefer spent nearly 20 minutes with one employee from the Nevada Athletic Commission who was responsible for copying the scorecards and eventually came away satisfied that it was “an honest mistake.”

Still, Schaefer couldn’t believe that a half-hour after the fight no one could locate the original scorecards, any member of the commission or its executive director, Keith Kizer.

“I must say I find it a bit strange that nobody from the commission is here,” Schaefer said. “I tried to call them, but I got a voice mail. … I still would like to talk to Keith Kizer. … Nobody from the WBC is here, and I would like to see their scorecards. … Maybe they are cashing their checks.”

Calling Marc Ratner. Mr. Ratner, please come to the stage.

Still, Schaefer said they accepted the decision. “Any other promoter might protest this and make it drag on,” he said. “The sport doesn’t deserve that.”

Actually, the sport deserves everything it gets, including a rematch — though if De La Hoya fought Mayweather 100 times, he would lose 100 times.

The scoring controversy and the perception that the fight was close or even a De La Hoya victory will make it easy to put together the rematch — if that is what De La Hoya, who has lost five of his last 12 fights, wants.

He might instead coax Felix Trinidad, the man who first defeated him in a controversial decision in 1999, out of retirement for a different rematch. That fight could make the Golden Boy just as much gold as a second bout with Mayweather. It also is one De La Hoya, who earned at least $20 million Saturday and probably much more when it is all counted, finally could win and then retire.

After the fight, De La Hoya seemed receptive to a Mayweather rematch.

“We’ll see,” he said. “We’ll have to go back to the drawing board and talk to my family.”

Mayweather, though, said before Saturday night this would be his last fight, and he stuck to that pledge after the bout — sort of. He said he wanted to spend more time with his children. “As of right now, Floyd Mayweather is officially retired from boxing.”

That was then. When he finds out they don’t let you bet at the sports books in Vegas with Happy Meals, Floyd Mayweather Jr. will be officially unretired from boxing.

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