Henry Maske UD 12 Virgil Hill, March 31, 2007, Olympiahalle, Munich, Bayern, Germany: Some 11 years earlier in November of 1996, Hill had handed Maske his lone defeat by split-decision in the same venue. That victory added Maske’s IBF light heavyweight belt to the WBA crown that Hill already owned.
It had also been Maske’s lone defeat in 30 bouts — as well as his last — against 11 knockouts until returning to the same site of their previous clash to face Hill, yet again.
“Most people had never seen Henry Maske fight, because he fought most of his career in Germany, where he was super star. At one point, for, like, two or three years in a row, Maske was making something like $25 million a year in Germany from endorsements and fighting,” said Buffer.
“Maske was the ultimate German prototypical star athlete. Every magazine you picked up or every time you turned on the television, he was doing a commercial. He was just unbelievable. Maske had been on a good run and had beaten all of the No. 1 mandatories that had been put in front of him. He was an Olympic gold medalist.”
Maske had announced his retirement after losing his title, but he came back for one more fight — against Hill when they were cruiserweights.
“He had lost that split-decision to Virgil Hill, and the whole country was in tears. He is the type of competitor who had walked way and never fought again,” said Buffer. “He was a mult-millionaire, but it had just eaten away at him, so he decided that he wanted to have a rematch 10 years later. In boxing, 10 years is 100 years.”
Maske was 43 years old, and Hill still was active at 40.
“Here’s an active fighter going against an inactive fighter, and Maske isn’t even a power-puncher. So what does he bring to the table?” said Buffer. “He comes back to the same arena where he lost the title and, I don’t know how he did it, but he only lost two rounds, completely dominates the fight, and then goes back into retirement.”
Floyd Mayweather SD 12 Oscar De La Hoya, May 5, 2007, MGM Grand, Las Vegas: De La Hoya entered this rivalry with Mayweather having lost to Trinidad as a welterweight, suffered defeats as both a welterweight and junior middleweight opposite Shane Mosley, and been stopped in the ninth round as a middleweight by Bernard Hopkins.
De La Hoya was making the first defense of the WBC junior middleweight belt he had won by sixth-round knockout over Ricardo Mayorga, and Mayweather was fighting at a career high 150 pounds compared to De La Hoya’s 154.
“This the fight where I believe that people realized how great Mayweather really was. Everybody knew that he was without a doubt being called pound-for-pound the best fighter, but I think that this really convinced everybody that he was everything that he said he was,” said Buffer.
“But I think that what made that fight intresting is that Oscar was in the fight and might have even have had the first six rounds. His left jab was good and he felt that he was the professor and that Mayweather was the student. Oscar was really giving him a welterweight’s left jab and made Mayweather look like the smaller fighter.”
But it’s 12 rounds, said Buffer.
“Apparently, he couldn’t stay with the jab anymore. It just wasn’t landing anymore. Mayweather probably landed 55 to 60 percent of his power punches. Although he didn’t get brutally beaten up or anything, but it was all downhill for Oscar after Round 6,” said Buffer.
“The way that I remember is that it was two seperate fights, with De La Hoya looking like he was going to pull it off, and then, Mayweather just became Mayweather. That still stands out today as the all-time money maker. Man, that was huge, that fight. Just a great night of boxing. Celebrity attendance, hero versus villain, the birth of a superstar.”
Photo courtesy of Michael Buffer
Photos by Fightwire Images
Photo by Chris Cozzone, Fightwire Images
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org