De La Hoya, Mayweather are set to cash in on fight

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At the sports book inside the massive MGM Grand hotel-casino, the squares were trickling in to bet the big fight. As squares usually do, they were going for the dog, who on this day wore a big smile underneath his ball cap.

Oscar De La Hoya hasn't been in this position much, but it doesn't seem to bother him. Maybe that's because he's going to make $30 million or so no matter what the odds are when he steps into the ring against Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a megafight that harkens back to boxing's glory days.

The wise guys who bet the big money will mostly be putting it on the favorite in this fight. But casual fans, or squares to the bookies who take their money, are believers when their fighter talks about himself.

Or maybe he just believes in himself more than he believes the wise guys who set the odds.

"Don't be surprised if I'm faster than Mayweather," De La Hoya warned. "I don't see this fight going the distance."

Those, of course, are fighting words, though a bit tamer than the ones the two boxers have been throwing at each other since they launched this promotion a few months back in a big city tour.

By the time they finished at a surprisingly quiet final news conference on Wednesday, there was more than enough material for HBO to fill its reality show.

And there was more than enough animosity between the two fighters to guarantee there will be at least some bad blood, if not real blood, spilled when the two finally meet Saturday night.

"This is not golf. This is not tennis," Mayweather said. "It's a brutal sport. Blood, sweat and tears."

Money, too, if you're a marketing machine like De La Hoya or good enough to be the fighter many consider the best pound-for-pound in the world, like Mayweather. Their fight will likely be the richest ever in a sport that's supposed to be dying, and both fighters will be well compensated.

De La Hoya will take the biggest cut because, well, he's the golden boy. He's not only the main attraction in the fight, but the promoter as well, and he figures to bank twice as many millions as his undefeated opponent.

Not that Mayweather is lacking for cash. As he is quick to point out, he lives in a 12,000-square-foot mansion, drives Bentleys and Maybachs, and employs people to take care of his every whim.

OK, so he was wearing an $8 T-shirt at the press conference. But on his left wrist was a diamond-studded watch worth $500,000. Around his neck was a glittering cross and chain worth another $300,000. On his pinky finger was a $200,000 ring, bringing this day's jewelry tab to a cool million dollars.

Mayweather has more than earned his keep for this fight, even before he steps into the ring to challenge De La Hoya for the 154-pound title. He's not only the most gifted fighter of his era, but he's generated enough subplots for this fight to fill a full season of the Sopranos.

And, in a fight full of outlandish claims, Jose Sulaiman, the head of the World Boxing Council, saved the most bizarre for last.

"We hope this fight will show that boxing is the cleanest of all sports," he said.

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