Oscar De La Hoya can provide a unique perspective on the outcome of Saturday’s Floyd Mayweather – Juan Manuel Marquez fight in Las Vegas. The Golden Boy lost to Mayweather in a 2005 split decision that was closely contested through much of the match, and he just returned from Mexico where he visited Marquez’ training facility and analyzed his workouts. Last week, De La Hoya spoke with reporters about how he feels the fight will play out, where Marquez can use his strengths to pull through and how Mayweather can affect his legacy as one of the greatest fighters ever.
Oscar De La Hoya: I just have this feeling that Marquez is going to pull this one off. I went down to Mexico and saw him train with my own eyes. I saw how much he bulked up; I saw how much strength he has gained. I saw how seriously he's taking this fight, and I'm convinced he will win this fight. Floyd Mayweather is the best fighter on the planet, and Juan knows that. He knows he's up for a big challenge, but he's ready and he knows that he has to put his life on the line and he's willing to do that.
Question: You fought [Mayweather], you know how difficult it is. How is Marquez - you say your convinced he's going to do it, but how? How is he going to catch up to him? That's the main question, you weren't able to do it, so how will Marquez do it?
Oscar De La Hoya: When you said how difficult it was for me, I mean that's exactly my point. It wasn't difficult. The first half of the fight wasn't difficult, but I'm the one that stopped fighting. I'm the one that didn't keep using that jab. I'm the one whose screws were coming loose on my shoulders and my back and I was falling apart.
I mean yes, Floyd Mayweather is an excellent boxer and he's the best fighter on the planet, no doubt about it. But Marquez, I mean styles make fights and I'm sure Marquez is - has- dissected Mayweather's style and it's not going to be an easy task but I'm just giving you my personal opinion that I have a feeling, being in there with Floyd and watching Marquez train, I just have this feeling he's going to win.
Question: How difficult is it to come back from a layoff like Floyd has had? It might refresh him but yet, you know you're going to be rusty. What is the main trouble he's going to run into with the lay off that long?
Oscar De La Hoya: Well it depends on how active you've stayed if you've been away doing nothing, than you're going to be rusty. But if you've been in the gym doing something, than you're going to maybe have trouble adjusting at first, or maybe you'll need a few rounds to adjust. But you know being the professional that Mayweather, Jr. is, I'm sure it's going to be no problem for him to adjust. But, at the same time, you know that Marquez is coming at you right from the get go, right from the start - I just feel that Mayweather's going to have to be playing catch up in the fight.
Question: You alluded to when you fought Floyd about how you did well early in the fight and then you kind of fell apart. Can you speak to the idea that Floyd's incredibly fast, yet there are plenty of examples in boxing history where guys who are much faster were neutralized simply by a jab. Do you think Marquez can do that?
Oscar De La Hoya: Yes. Obviously when I fought Floyd my jab was the key. You know I have a great jab and when I used it, I was unstoppable. That was my key to victory. When I stopped using it that's when Floyd was able to win the fight. Marquez has an excellent jab. Marquez is going to use the triple, the quadruple jabs. This is the fight of his life.
This is the opportunity of a lifetime and he knows it. And he has to go extra times to win this fight. He's a smart counter puncher; he's a smart fighter, and it's a matter of throwing those jabs and feigning those jabs, and not only throwing the jab but putting three, four, five punches right behind that jab. That's going to be the key.
Question: Where do you think Floyd Mayweather should lie among the great fighters of the past 35-40 years?
Oscar De La Hoya: Let me put it this way, the only way Floyd is going to be talked about among the best, he has to keep fighting the best, and he has to knock out some of the best, starting with Juan Manuel Marquez. He has to make a statement. He has to do something that no one has ever done, ever in Marquez's career, and that's knock him out. Then you can say, "Oh boy, here we go. We're watching a great fighter in the making and there's no doubt about it."
But he has to knock out Marquez. He has to make a statement because Marquez fought Pacquiao twice and Marquez, in my mind, beat him. But Pacquiao couldn't knock him out. If Mayweather can make that statement knock out Marquez and go after him, that's - you know, "Hello world, here I am. I'm the greatest!"
Gene Blevins - Hoganphotos/Golden Boy Promotions.