IT’S STILL OSCAR
The second Oscar De La Hoya–Shane Mosley fight is now officially the second biggest drawing non-heavyweight fight (after De La Hoya-Trinidad) in boxing history, and the HBO and HBO2 replays of the fight the highest-rated reruns of a boxing match ever.
The replays have given boxing fans everywhere a chance to match their own expertise against that of the three judges and several prominent boxing writers, all of whom watched the fight at ringside and had Mosley winning. The results are reflected in a poll of more than 9,600 avid fans who checked in on Maxboxing.com: Nearly 74 percent saw De La Hoya as the clear winner.
The post-fight controversy appears, on the surface, to settle into a neat Those Who Saw It on TV vs. Those Who Were There argument, but it’s not quite that simple. Nearly half of the writers in attendance chose De La Hoya as the winner, many by wider margins than those who saw Mosley as the winner. Further, while some in the press have gone as far as to suggest that HBO’s Larry Merchant, Jim Lampley, and George Foreman—all of who had De La Hoya as the obvious winner—were biased in favor of the fighter who is the biggest draw for their channel, no one questions HBO scorekeeper Harold Lederman‘s objectivity, and he gave the decision to De La Hoya by a significant margin.
So where was the better view—ringside or your living room? The judges and some writers who picked Mosley insisted that Sugar landed the harder punches, which in at least three or four instances was probably true. The question is how the far greater number of punches that Oscar landed could have been ignored, as well as the fact that it is virtually impossible to find more than five rounds in which Mosley was even competitive. (If Mosley’s punches, particularly in the ninth round, were that much harder than De La Hoya’s, then why didn’t the judges award him a two-point round?)
What did those watching on TV see that those at ringside didn’t? For one, many newspaper writers wrote that Mosley “bloodied” De La Hoya. Is it possible that they did not see what thousands watching on pay-per-view saw—that the gash near Oscar’s eye was caused by an accidental head butt? Is it also possible that they missed the right hand from De La Hoya in the 11th round that knocked out Mosley’s mouthpiece?
The sentiments of many disgusted fans were expressed by Nathan Ward, co-editor (along with W.C. Heinz) of Sports Illustrated’s The Book of Boxing, who watched the fight on TV with what he called “40 disgusted fans.”
“With five camera angles and instant replay between rounds, they’re now trying to tell us that we can’t see what happens at a fight?” Ward says. “Next time we should just keep our $49.95 and read about the fight in the papers.” —Allen Barra
BIG ONE FOR BEANTOWN
Sorry, George. With the Red Sox and A’s both riding hot streaks into the playoffs, their matchup (not Yankees-Twins) is the must-see-TV drama of the week. Pedro Martinez and Derek Lowe get the edge over Tim Hudson and a fizzling Barry Zito, but beyond that, who knows? Boston’s lineup is as tenacious as Oakland’s is toothless, and vice versa for the bullpens. Yet while many tip the Sox to prevail, we reckon the A’s have a few tricks left up their collective green-and-gold sleeve—starting (or ending) with durable closer Keith Foulke, the forgotten man of the AL despite his having secured 43 saves in 86 2/3 innings this year. The downside: His only two postseason outings, with the White Sox in 2000, resulted in an 11.57 ERA.
The biggest X-factor, though, is none other than little Ted Lilly, whom the Yanks’ Brian Cashman will remember as the bait he traded away for that gem Jeff Weaver in last year’s three-way deal with Detroit. Looks like Lilly was the real diamond in the rough—his 12-10 record belies a sparkling late-season run of six consecutive wins, including three shutouts. Lilly owes the sweet smell of his success partly to catcher Ramon Hernandez (the A’s have tried to forbid Lilly from shaking off signs), but also to pitching coach Rick Peterson. A biomechanics geek who measures knee-angle efficiency and optimal stride lengths, capable of pronouncements like “Hip rotation velocity directly correlates to fastball velocity” (in a Baseball Prospectus interview), Peterson has transformed his young charge. (Evidently not without friction; rumor suggests Lilly may be shipped to the Mets this winter.)
Still, if the statheads running the team are worried about some of Lilly’s numbers—he gave up six runs in 3 1/3 innings to Boston on August 20, and had a 13.50 ERA in the 2002 ALDS—at least he and Zito have the power of hair on their side. They’re growing beards “to be all scraggly and nasty,” enthuses Zito. You know what the Boss would say. —J.Y. Yeh