It's one thing you didn't see on the HBO special in and around Oscar De La Hoya presenting his wife a birthday cake and Floyd Mayweather Jr. stacking more $100 bills on his kitchen counter than there exists in Mississippi. It wasn't promoted on the billboards or plastered across the beer cans or endorsed on that 11-city tour or mentioned once over the months of continuous buildup. It wasn't included in all the talk of staggering gate numbers and pay-per-view millions. It's not a motto scrawled over T-shirts and hats.
But it could happen. It's more real than the diamonds on Mayweather's chain, more possible than WBC president Jose Sulaiman completely losing his mind and calling Mayweather "Jeff" and boxing "the cleanest of all sports" during a pre-fight news conference -- both of which he did Wednesday with a straight face.
Believe it. It's true. The world could be waiting, all right.
For a really boring fight.
If ticket prices for Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden are in the same neighborhood as those for Super Bowls, so, too, is the possibility that De La Hoya-Mayweather will follow the same script as many of the past NFL championships.
Which is this: The event can't possibly match the hype.
Which means this: It's all on Mayweather to dictate how exciting things get for any nut who pays $25,000 to sit ringside.
"Floyd can make this a very boring fight, no doubt about it," said Freddie Roach, trainer to De La Hoya. "We're going to try to impose our will on him to engage -- to rough the little guy up a little -- but he never does. I'd be surprised if he fights differently than he ever has. I'd love him to. I'd love him to change and stand there and fight us. But he is what he is -- he has never had to make adjustments because his own ability has always been enough to get him by. We just hope he shows up."
That won't be an issue, but whether he is foolish enough to be anything different than he was over those previous 37 wins is unknown. Whether Mayweather can be baited into taking risks is the one thing that could make the fight more than 12 rounds of De La Hoya trying to land punches and Mayweather deflecting most of them and you cursing about having paid so much to watch.
The depth of analysis surrounding the fight is like Mayweather's trash talking. Endless. There is the weight and strength part (advantage, De La Hoya). There is the speed and footwork part (advantage, Mayweather). There is the shady part (huge advantage, Sulaiman).
"We go through this every fight, and all I do is beat everybody they put in front of me," Mayweather said. "This is my era. This is my time. Believe me, I'm going to dominate him. I'm a smart fighter, man. I'm intelligent. He could change his name to Bob and someone else could take the name Oscar De La Hoya and he could get in the ring and it won't matter."
Well, it might if he decided to punch with Bob. But he won't. He shouldn't.
Mayweather is the world's best because for more than a decade now, he has lived a fighter's greatest dream -- he hits and doesn't allow others to hit back.
So to change now, to be suddenly tempted into standing and trading punches with a six-division world champion who could easily weigh 10 to 12 pounds more come Saturday, to allow ego a prominent place in the biggest and perhaps final fight of his tremendous career, would make as much sense as his trainer and uncle, Roger, saying that when this fight was made, he was "somewhere resting."
(Translation: Sitting in jail.)
"Floyd could make it an ugly fight," said Shane Mosley, who has beaten De La Hoya twice and fights under Golden Boy Promotions. "If he runs and holds and fights (defensive), it will be ugly."
Ugly. Boring. They are words that somehow didn't quite make it on all the billboards and beers cans and HBO cutouts.
And yet in an ironic twist the size of Mayweather's mansion, the flashiest and most compelling and easily most interesting fighter of this matchup can make it so.
"The only chance this is a boring fight," said Bernard Hopkins, another Golden Boy fighter, "is if you fall asleep and don't watch it."
The only way this isn't one is if Floyd Mayweather suddenly becomes something he hasn't been.
If he's as smart as he insists, get ready to curse about having paid so much to watch.
Ed Graney's column is published Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. He can be reached at 383-4618 or firstname.lastname@example.org.