De La Hoya Sees Jealousy Behind Mayweather's Fighting Words

Friday, May 4th 2007, 11:46 am
By: News On 6

LAS VEGAS (AP) _ Floyd Mayweather Jr. speaks of destiny and domination when he discusses his fight against Oscar De La Hoya on Saturday. When he began his boxing career nearly 15 years ago, Mayweather felt every single hour he spent in the gym was pushing him toward this bout.

De La Hoya sees something far less grand than destiny behind Mayweather's relentless campaigning for this 154-pound showdown _ and then the undefeated fighter's constant preening and posturing ever since it was announced.

The Golden Boy thinks the Pretty Boy is jealous.

``I think he resents everything that's happened to me _ not only my boxing career,'' De La Hoya said Thursday. ``I learned a lot about Floyd Jr. through his father. Over the years, he would talk to me about him. `Oh, he's so jealous of you. Everything you do, he wants to be like you.'''

Floyd Mayweather Sr. was De La Hoya's trainer for six years before this fight, and he'll watch from excellent seats provided by Golden Boy Promotions. Though he isn't picking a winner when his son faces his former student, his years of work with both fighters should show in boxing's most anticipated fight in at least a half-decade.

De La Hoya finally accepted Mayweather's years of challenges for a $25 million payday and a chance to command the center of the boxing world again. With a young family, a thriving promotions company and numerous business interests, De La Hoya has plenty to hold his interest _ but he couldn't stay out of the spotlight yet again.

``I really want to help boxing, and there's so much potential in the sport,'' De La Hoya said. ``This is the sport I grew up doing. I owe everything to it. It's my duty to try and help boxing, and make it as popular or even more so than it was several decades ago.''

He accepted quite a challenge. Mayweather is a charismatic champion with remarkable skill and speed. He's also a larger-than-life character similar to the great fighters he admired growing up in Michigan. The type who could lose $170,000 in a brown paper bag on the curb at a Las Vegas shopping mall while he was out buying Christmas presents for his four children, as he did a few years ago. The finder got a $10,000 reward.

But Mayweather still hungers to beat De La Hoya, the Golden Boy who effortlessly seemed to receive everything Mayweather worked so hard to get. He has attacked De La Hoya's character and courage in the buildup to the fight.

``That's the only way I can be who I want to be,'' Mayweather said. ``It's the only challenge left for me. After that, what else is there? What can I do that's worthy?''

Mayweather's railings contain plenty of boilerplate boxing bluster, but there's an underlying desperation _ for respect, for attention, for proper recognition of the fighting, business-deal-making, child-raising whirlwind he has become at 30. He also realizes this fight is his best chance to transcend the sport, and he's determined not to waste it.

When the cameras were on him in recent weeks during the production of the HBO reality show setting up the fight, he eagerly played the villain _ throwing $100 bills at the camera, betting wildly on NBA games and cursing with constant glee.

Mayweather said he sees the showdown as the culmination of everything he's done in those 15 years. He even claims he's done with boxing after this fight, planning to focus on becoming a movie star or a record producer or a fight-promotions mogul _ though nobody outside Mayweather's inner circle believes him.

De La Hoya sees something more than ambition driving Mayweather's determination to fight him _ but he took the fight anyway, accepting one more daunting challenge after revitalizing his career last year with a fantastic knockout of Ricardo Mayorga.

Mayweather's jealousy, De La Hoya says, made him mad.

``It's just, you know, create your own examples and legacy,'' De La Hoya said. ``Don't try to take me down because you can't be like me. Over the years, his father was right. (The elder Mayweather) kept saying, `Oh, he's not a good guy. He's surrounded himself with bad people.' Well, it's true.''