OSCAR DE LA HOYA had been watching Floyd Mayweather’s progress carefully. The ‘Golden Boy’, and the game’s star attraction, was in the midst of a comeback and managed to tempt Floyd up to the light-middleweight division to try for a world title in his fifth weight. The fight, set for May 5, 2007 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, would be the richest contest in boxing history.
Mayweather had been improving since the Castillo fights, beating the likes of Arturo Gatti and Zab Judah, and was regarded by many as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the sport. But the fight with Oscar was poised. The crowd favourite had looked good since he’d been back – thrashing Ricardo Mayorga – and the jump to 154lbs was considered a risky step for Mayweather.
The fight itself was riveting but failed to catch fire. De La Hoya – under the tutelage of Freddie Roach – enjoyed plenty of success in the first half behind his impressive jab but faded down the stretch to hand victory, and the WBC 154lb crown, to Mayweather by the split scores of 114-115, 116-112 and 115-113.
Following the triumph, 30-year-old Floyd announced he was done. “I’ve done everything I wanted to in this sport. I beat the best from 130 to 154 and made a lot of money. You can’t stop God’s work. What’s meant to be is meant to be. Right now I am officially retired.”