Fighters to take time off, make decisions later
LAS VEGAS -- Floyd Mayweather Jr. had been looking forward to Sunday morning for months. He was confident he would wake up that day as an unbeaten, retired champion who could take his four kids out for pizza in peace any time he wished.
Mayweather said he was done with boxing, content to retire at 30 after winning a competitive split decision over Oscar De La Hoya on Saturday night in boxing's biggest fight in years -- and likely the most lucrative fight in history, once the receipts are totaled.
Though neither fighter particularly hurt the other in an active, entertaining bout, the win again stamped Mayweather's skills as the best of this decade, and added a 154-pound belt to the burgeoning collection carried into the ring by rapper 50 Cent.
So is the Pretty Boy really ready to dance, feint and dodge into the sunset? Hardly.
In fact, Mayweather only waited a few minutes after beating De La Hoya to start hedging on his plans for a lifetime of money-counting and kiddie pizza parties.
"That's up to Leonard and Al right now," Mayweather said, referring to his top advisers. "As of right now, I'm sticking to my word, but I'm going to go home and talk with my team."
Wondering why Mayweather might return to the ring after saying he had nothing left to prove in the sport? Take a look at the slogan on the back of the T-shirts for his recording label, Philthy Rich Records: "If you don't like money, you don't like us."
Absolutely nobody believes Mayweather will retire -- not with so much cash to be made from a rematch with De La Hoya, or any other matchup that could come his way in the next few months. Every fighter in three weight classes would love a shot at him, though it's too soon to predict who might catch his attention.
And once the 34-year-old De La Hoya's bruised pride heals from his failed attempt to knock off the unofficial pound-for-pound king, his business partners believe he'll want to get back in the ring as well, despite losing three of his last five fights and not beating anybody of real consequence since 2002.
Though he already has hinted at his desire for a rematch with Felix Trinidad -- the first fighter to beat De La Hoya in a controversial bout -- a rematch with Mayweather would loom large to the proud fighter, even though the second go-round could never match the drama or attention of the first.
"I'm going to be very smart about the situation," De La Hoya said. "I will go home and watch the fight and see how my movements were, how my body reacted, and analyze the situation. I'll wait and see. I'll analyze the whole thing and think about it."
Boxing purists will dispute the necessity of a rematch, since Mayweather's athletic defense was more than De La Hoya could handle. After De La Hoya took a few early rounds with aggressive stalking, the fight settled into the pattern of almost every Mayweather bout for a decade -- an opponent desperately trying to punch a fighter who has never really been pummeled.
Mayweather never betrayed a hint of nervousness, grinning around his mouthpiece after almost every flurry by De La Hoya. Though one judge narrowly gave the fight to De La Hoya, nearly everyone at ringside thought Mayweather's 12 rounds of steady excellence were better than De La Hoya's flashes of power.
"I thought it was going to be by a bigger margin than they had it," Mayweather said. "All the shots he was throwing, I was blocking them."
De La Hoya didn't argue with the slim margin of defeat, either.
"You just have to respect the judges at this point," De La Hoya said. "I don't feel like a loser, because I came to do what I had to do. Now, as a champion, he has a big responsibility to work harder and maintain that title."
Both fighters can spend the next few weeks deciding what to do with their eight-figure paychecks -- though it's a pretty good guess De La Hoya's money will go into the bank, and much of Mayweather's cash will go straight into his pockets in rolls of $100 bills.
But before too long, fight fans should find out just how boring the business world can be to lifelong competitors.
"He's a good guy, I'm a good guy, and we give the sport our all," Mayweather said. "I believe Golden Boy Promotions and Mayweather Promotions are going to meet again."
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press
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