- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 21, 2007

It was Golden Boy and the Pretty Boy, the man looking to solidify his legacy standing next to the undefeated mouth, exchanging verbal jabs and talking in superlatives.

Boxers Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr. stopped by Union Station yesterday to promote their May 5 bout to decide the WBC junior middleweight championship and, if the hype is to be believed, the future of mankind on Earth.

Washington was the third stop for the boxers in an 11-city tour to promote the fight, scheduled to be held at MGM Grand in Las Vegas and airing on HBO Pay-Per-View. Mayweather, especially, did his part to get a rise out of the several thousand people in attendance.

“I’m going to take my time, and I’m going to give you a brutal beating, a brutal beating,” he said to the far more reserved De La Hoya.

The leaner looking Mayweather initially arrived wearing a yellow hooded sweatshirt but shed it to show off his sculpted torso. De La Hoya, remaining clothed in a dress shirt, tie and V-neck sweater, was more reserved, smiling at the antics of Mayweather and the jeers of several vocal detractors.

“That’s fine and dandy,” De La Hoya said as Mayweather blatantly signed autographs in front of the podium. “He can talk all he wants, but on May 5, we’ll see who’s feeling the pain.”

Boxing press conferences are known for their outlandishness, but this bout truly is viewed by most fans as the most highly anticipated fight since Lennox Lewis knocked out Mike Tyson in Memphis in 2002. Mayweather, the welterweight champion who is jumping a weight class to fight De La Hoya, enters with a record of 37-0 and holds the unofficial title of the best “pound-for-pound” boxer in competition.

Mayweather reiterated his claim yesterday that the De La Hoya bout would be his last, then acknowledged he would consider a return if the payout was substantial enough.

De La Hoya, considered the pound-for-pound champ during a stretch in the late 1990s, will be fighting for the first time since May, when he beat Ricardo Mayorga by technical knockout after six rounds. His previous bout in 2004 ended when Bernard Hopkins knocked him out in the ninth round. Hopkins, who is touring with the boxers, now works for De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions, the promoter of the May 5 bout.

“This is going to be the greatest fight of my era,” Hopkins said. “I hope you enjoy it. I hope it lives up to the hype. I know someone’s going to have a headache after May 5.”

MGM Grand and HBO are preparing for one of their biggest paydays ever. Tickets to the fight netted $19 million, the highest gate for a live boxing event, and were sold out in less than three hours. HBO officials said they anticipate the pay-per-view revenue could be the highest for a non-heavyweight bout. (The existing record is held by De La Hoya’s fight with Felix Trinidad in 1999.) The number of closed circuit televisions tuned to the bout is also expected to set a record.

“It’s been five years since there’s been a true megafight,” said Mark Taffet, senior vice president of HBO Sports and Pay-Per-View. “This is a fight that transcends the sport and reaches out to the masses. The public always wants to see the best versus the best, and that’s what they’re getting in De La Hoya versus Mayweather.”

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