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Neither fighter thinking decision

Given it is fight week and the world has supposedly cast aside such worries as oil shortages and global warming and a lack of clean drinking water long enough for Oscar De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr. to break from the relentless hype and actually throw punches at each other, it’s fitting the voice of reason comes from a source not typically sought for such a role.

Besides, it was either ask Roger Mayweather about the potential for a decision fight or one of countless hangers-on/enablers milling about the Mayweather camp trying to appear useful recently — and we’d never want to bother the guy changing the music.

“I’ve seen a lot of bad stuff in my career with judges,” said Roger, uncle and trainer to Floyd Jr. “But it’s pretty easy to tell when someone is getting his ass whipped. If they can’t see that, there is something wrong with them. I’m not worried about the fight going to a decision. The public will know who wins the fight, and if the judges don’t agree, that’s on them.”

This isn’t any different than the paperback you pick up at the airport for a long flight home, except for that small part about Saturday’s fight probably breaking all pay-per-view records and boxing’s entire future depending on the overall impact.

There is a hero and a villain, an Indiana Jones and a Darth Vader, one of the sport’s biggest promoters and its biggest self-promoter. It’s why a ringside ticket at the MGM Grand Garden costs just a tad under what Mayweather might put down on an NBA playoff game when he’s not betting much, which is to say about $25,000.

De La Hoya in a ring is Peyton Manning strolling an Indianapolis mall or Dale Earnhardt Jr. stopping by a North Carolina car show.

Popular doesn’t begin to describe his effect on fans. He is a house fighter like no other. He makes the most money. He draws the most followers. His celebrity shines brightest.

Mayweather has other advantages: He’s younger, faster, better, and yet not in 37 straight wins has he come close to facing anyone with the star status of the man he is about to fight.

This is how a Mayweather fight usually goes: He piles up points like Kobe Bryant’s jumper when in rhythm. Question is, are there enough out there this time for Mayweather to overcome his opponent’s exceptional reputation?

“It’s funny — I’m not even thinking about (a decision),” De La Hoya said. “I had the choice of having this fight in Los Angeles, which is obviously my home. Or in Las Vegas, which is Floyd’s home. I decided, ‘Let’s do it in his backyard.’

“If the fans are, you know, cheering me on more than they are him, it’s probably his fault. The way he acts. The way he carries himself. He didn’t choose to be the villain. He is a villain.”

But is he enough of one to affect how the fight will be scored?

Boxing and controversial decisions are as common as Mayweather and trash talking. Sugar Ray Leonard-Thomas Hearns in 1989. Julio Cesar Chavez-Pernell Whitaker in 1993. Evander Holyfield-Lennox Lewis in 1999.

Things actually have fallen both ways for De La Hoya, though more often in his favor. He was granted a decision against Felix Sturm in 2004 he had no business winning and lost one to Felix Trinidad nearly five years earlier he should have earned. His win against Ike Quartey (a split decision) in 1999 was questioned by many. So was his majority decision against Whitaker in 1997.

“I’ll get a fair shake,” Mayweather said. “Ike beat Oscar. Pernell clearly beat him. Oscar might always be the house fighter, but the Nevada commission is also the best in the world. I’ll just treat Oscar like I have treated all 37 opponents — with no respect. He has to earn it from me.”

Truth is, unless Mayweather loses all intelligence and risks standing and brawling with a bigger and stronger De La Hoya, the fight should go the distance. Six of Mayweather’s last 10 have, so, too, have four of De La Hoya’s last 10.

And if that happens, the only thing the world will await is what three guys named Chuck Giampa, Jerry Roth and Tom Kaczmarek think.

The judges.

Or, as the voice of reason, Roger Mayweather, puts it: “Guys I don’t give a (bleep) about. You have the choirboy against the villain. But this villain backs up all the talk, and Floyd will beat his ass. The world will know who wins this fight.”

Either way, maybe then the world can get back to worrying about other things. You know, like gas prices and all that dirty water.

Ed Graney’s column is published Wednesday, Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. He can be reached at 383-4618 or egraney@reviewjournal.com.

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