LAS VEGAS – Unbeaten six-time, five-division titlewinner Floyd Mayweather Jr. was the unquestioned star of Wednesday’s press conference at the MGM Grand promoting Saturday night’s HBO Pay Per View clash with WBC welterweight beltholder Victor Ortiz.
But while Mayweather drew much of the attention with his healthy penchant for holding court and entertaining media members, Oscar De La Hoya, who is often the target of insults from Mayweather, drew attention from a small group of reporters in a remote corner of the stage.
“I have four months, seven days and six hours [of recovery time from drugs and alcohol], but who is counting,” said De La Hoya, 38, who has expressed no regrets about going public with private turmoil that included an addiction to cocaine and alcohol, infidelity to his wife and suicidal thoughts.
“I would have been hurt [by Mayweather's attacks] four months, five days and a few hours ago, but now, it’s like, ‘Hey, I’m human. I’ve made mistakes.’”
De La Hoya, president of Golden Boy Promotions which is sponsoring Mayweather-Ortiz, has said that although he was “living a lie for a lot of years, there’s a lot of weight off of my shoulders.”
De La Hoya spent time in a rehabilitation center and became a member of Alcoholics Anonymous.
“I did this for myself. Now I can live. Now, I can breathe, you know,” said De La Hoya. “I made amends to myself, and I proved it to myself. Everything else, I guess, you know is pudding on the cake I guess.”
MAY PER VIEW?
“Floyd Mayweather has changed boxing,” proclaimed Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe during Wednesday’s press conference. “Instead of Pay Per View, it’s ‘May Per View.’”
There is doubt that Mayweather is the sport’s “Money” man, coming off of a unanimous decision over Shane Mosley in May of last year that totaled 1.4 million Pay-Per-View buys and earned the fighter a career-high $40 million, according to Ellerbe.
Even before the Pay Per View totals, Mayweather had accomplished a career milestone with his guaranteed $22.5 million purse.
Mayweather’s $40 million fell short of De La Hoya’s $54 million earned after his loss to Mayweather, which set a pay-per-view boxing record of 2.4 million buys.
Mayweather’s average pay-per-view buys entering the bout with Mosley — a total of $48 million for six fights — ranked as the highest all time.
His robe and trunks were made of red leather and black mink. He was led into the ring by the musical group, The O’Jays, singing “For The Love Of Money.”
A man dressed as Elvis Presley dished out fake dollar bills to fans, a show girl walked on stilts, and there were deafening, gun-shot sound effects.
Will he top that Saturday night?
“Our ring walk will be very, very creative. We’ve got some creative things that we’re going to do this go around,” promised Mayweather. “The main thing is to bring creativity and to have fun, and we’re having fun.”
KNOCK-DOWN ARTIST ORTIZ VOWS TO DROP MAYWEATHER
In one of Ortiz’s most exciting fights, a sixth-round knockout loss to Marcos Maidana, Ortiz was floored twice but scored three knockdowns against his opponent in June of 2009.
Ortiz scored a third-round knockdown in his next fight, a seventh-round stoppage of Antonio Diaz in Dec. of 2009.
Ortiz came up with one knockdown each in a 10th-round knockout and unanimous decision, respectively, over Hector Alatore and ex-titleholder Nate Campbell in February and May of last year.
Next, there was a third-round knockout of former beltholder Vivian Harris that featured three knockdowns in September of last year, and a draw with Lamont Peterson, whom Ortiz dropped twice in the third round in December of last year.
In his last fight, Ortiz dethroned current IBF beltholder Andre Berto (28-1, 22 KOs) as WBC titleholder in a clash during which both fighters were floored twice.
After Berto went down in the first round, Ortiz hit the canvas in the second, and both fighters were dropped in the sixth — Ortiz first, and Berto, second.
“Somebody’s scared. And on Saturday night, I will hold my hands up,” Ortiz told Mayweather at the press conference. “I’m going to put you on your a–”
ORTIZ’S MANAGER WARY OF REFEREE
Arrellano also said that he felt Cortez unfairly protected WBA and IBF junior welterweight Amir Khan during his unanimous decision victory over Marcos Maidana in December of last year.
“One of the concerns is that a lot of times, when the guys are mixing it up, you’re supposed to allow the guys to break it up on their own and to box their way out. But he has a tendency of getting on the inside,” said Arrellano.
“What we want is to just make sure that he utilizes his best skills possible while we’re fighting in the ring. Because we’re going to fight, and we want Floyd to fight us back. We don’t want to break the break, because, basically, it takes away from the for Floyd and it takes away from the fight for Victor”
Arrellano said Cortez took away from Hatton’s natural aggression while allowing Mayweather to use his own defensive tactics, an including excessive elbows.
Arrellano also felt as if Cortez’s methods saved Khan from nearly being knocked out when he was badly hurt and absorbing punishment in the 10th round.
“I don’t know know that he was favoring anyone, but because he was doing it, that gave them an unfair advantage in the fight. I thought that Mayweather and Khan had advantages, absolutely. That’s what I think,” said Arrellano.
“There are a couple of things that Mr. Mayweather uses an elbow. That’s illegal. If I head butt you, you can get disqualified. So we look for that. Another one is turning the back. That’s a voluntary surrender. If he does that, and we hit him in the back because we’re in motion, we do not want to be penalized.”
MAYWEATHER A DIRTY FIGHTER?
“Their trainer has said that I’m a dirty fighter. I’ve got to say that when have we ever known boxing to be a clean sport? Boxing’s a dirty sport,” said Mayweather.
“That’s what it is when you’re in the hurt business. When you’re in the hurt business, you’re trying to hurt a certain individual, how could it possibly be clean?”
IF I HIT YOU AND HURT YOU, DON’T GRAB ME
MAYWEATHER ADDRESSES FEUD WITH FATHER
“Roger — great trainer. The best. And I’m not just saying that because he’s my uncle. And, my father, we go through ups and downs. That’s in any relationship — father and son, sister and brother,” said Mayweather.
“That’s life, when you go through certain things. Certain obstacles. You have ups and downs in life. But I’m one of the strong ones. I can survive through anything.”
DELA HOYA COMPARES MAYWEATHER TO PERNELL WHITAKER
De La Hoya defeated Whitaker by unanimous decision in April of 1997, but lost to Mayweather by split decision in May of 2007.
Asked who had the more difficult style, De La Hoya said, “Oh, Pernell Whitaker.”
“Especially because he has the better resume, obviously. He’s fought the better fighters. Whitaker was very slippery,” said De La Hoya.
“Whitaker always stood his ground and fought there. He always stood there. But he was very elusive in the waist. Different styles, but Whitaker obviously had the better resume.”
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com