It never changes, infinite in its carnival barkers, in its shamelessness, in its legal feuds, in its double-crossings, in its grossly hyperbolic monologues. Oh, the faces change, or at least those now gracing center stage on the fistic landscape have, as Don King and Bob Arum, rulers so long, have moved into the shadows to reluctantly make room for people like Richard Schaefer, Gary Shaw and Dan Goossen, who’s actually an old standby. “This is the biggest fight in the history of boxing,” said Schaefer in what easily could be filed away in the National Archives as the most outlandish statement ever uttered in a sport overflowing with such outlandish statements. Perhaps I’m overly skeptical, but I have a hunch this country was slightly more intrigued when a couple of undefeated heavyweights, Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, mixed it up in 1971. And I think the passion of sporting patrons was a little more stirred by Ali-George Foreman, Roberto Duran-Sugar Ray Leonard I, Leonard-Thomas Hearns I, Larry Holmes-Gerry Cooney, Joe Louis-Max Schmeling, Jack Dempsey-Gene Tunney, Holmes-Gerry Cooney, Mike Tyson-Michael Spinks, Aaron Pryor-Alexis Arguello and countless other matches. To refer to the May 5 debate between De La Hoya and Mayweather as a historic showdown is sheer nonsense, since De La Hoya has been semi-retired since September of 2003 when he lost a decision to Sugar Shane Mosley and then surrendered meekly a year later in the ninth round against Bernard Hopkins. De La Hoya did knock out Richardo Mayorga last May in his last fight, but an asterisk should be put next to that victory since the undersized, woefully outmanned Mayorga wasn’t sound of body, soul or spirit. Oscar De La Hoya has emerged as one of the most fascinating figures ever in his occupation, not because of the skill of his fists but because of the lure of his persona. Because of a masterful marketing campaign orchestrated early in his career by Bob Arum and his Top Rank organization, De La Hoya instantly became a office phenomenon, which somehow he has remained even at age 34 despite having lost twice to Mosley and despite his ignobly raising the white flag against Hopkins. There is a certain charisma about De La Hoya due I’m sure to his handsome features and to the appealing words that flow smoothly out of him, a trick of presence that was on display at the Chinese Theater session, as his delirious fans reacted to his every banality with loud cheers, as opposed to loudly jeering Mayweather’s posturing antics earlier. There is no doubt despite his modest achievements in recent years in the ring–he was handed a gift decision over a German middleweight named Felix Sturm in June of 2004 to set up the Hopkins meeting three months later – that he is easily the biggest draw in boxing. In his first fight after the Hopkins debacle against Mayorga, there were more than 900,000 pay per view purchases on HBO. “It was astonishing,” admitted Ross Greenburg, president of HBO sports. “We figured it would be around 400,000 and it was more than twice as much.” Greenburg has no idea how many will pay to watch the De La Hoya-Mayweather match, but it won’t be surprising if it nears the Mike Tyson-Lennox Lewis record of 2 million, if the ticket scramble for the fight is a yardstick. The 15,000 put on sale by the MGM Grand Garden were sold out in one day, and choice ringsides are now being peddled for prices approximating Super Bowl tickets. I marvel at Oscar De La Hoya’s astonishing staying power. Other fighters lose stature after humiliating losses. Not De La Hoya. “The man absolutely quit against Hopkins,” charges Mayweather. “Look at the film. He’s pounding the canvas right after the ref stops it. How could a guy be pounding the canvas if he’s too hurt to get up. He didn’t get up because he didn’t want to get hit with anymore punches from Hopkins. And then a few weeks later, I saw the two men at a fight with their arms around each other, and they suddenly had a business arrangement going. Go figure.” Oscar De La Hoya is a 2 to 1 underdog against Mayweather, and the feeling here is that it should be 4 to 1. If De La Hoya had problems coping with Sugar Shane Mosley’s quickness, then what chance does he have of landing lethal punches against Mayweather, the world’s consensus best pound-for-pound fighter who’s not only a better defensively than Mosley but also faster? But what difference does it make? Oscar De La Hoya is guaranteed of making $20 million for this fight–and probably will wind up earning closer to $30 million. And a grateful Floyd Mayweather Jr. is guaranteed of making $12 million for this fight–and probably will wind up earning closer to $15 million. “How often do fans get to see two of the greatest fighters of all time mix it up?” said Richard Schaefer, as he rambled on and on the other day with his scandalously inflated rhetoric. It could have been Don King talking. Or Bob Arum. Nothing changes in boxing. Especially not the public’s fawning attitude toward Oscar De La Hoya, who has earned more for doing less than many in the history of his mean profession. Doug Krikorian can be reached at [email protected] 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! But the deportment is the same. I can swear as I listened to Schaefer, a one-time Swiss banker who somehow came out of nowhere to become a friend of De La Hoya and become CEO of his Golden Boy Productions, drone irritatingly on at the De La Hoya-Floyd Mayweather Jr. press conference the other day in front of Grauman’s Chinese Theater that he sounded hauntingly like King or Arum hyping one of their events.