Mandalay could get Oscar-winning performance

Sep 10, 2002 5:11 AM

   The Golden Boy is back at Mandalay Bay, which means it’s odd-on that the ladies will be out and dressed to the nines.

   “Nobody attracts women to fights like Oscar,” said Rich Dressler, the boxing analyst at Imperial Palace. “Oscar is still the biggest draw in the sport and women love to dress up and see him.”

   Las Vegas Sports Consultants has De La Hoya as a —220 favorite for Saturday night’s bout for the WBC and WBA Super Welterweight title. Vargas, who lost a previous decision to De La Hoya, is getting the +180 payback.

   “I am not happy about the price, but you can’t go against De La Hoya,” said Dressler, who was successful on the Marco Antonio Barrera decision over previously unbeaten Eric Morales in the last big Vegas fight several months ago.

   “The problem with fights involving Oscar is that he tends to go on the bicycle and the crowd could turn against him and to Vargas,” Dressler said. “Oscar is so rich and doesn’t have the hunger. But he has enough to beat Fernando.”

   Vargas has youth and machismo on his side, but hasn’t been the same fighter since being knocked out by Felix Trinidad.

   “Normally, I would say Vargas has value at that price, but you have no value if there’s no chance of winning,” Dressler said. “I would always give Vargas a puncher’s chance, but I think De La Hoya will easily control the fight.”

   There will be a huge Hispanic following for both fighters at Mandalay, though De La Hoya often draws the majority of fans.

   “Oscar just brings out the females and it becomes a show,” Dressler said. “Hopefully his new trainer Floyd Mayweather Sr. will make him fight more than in the past. I am hesitating to pick a decision this time. Oscar could knock him out.”

Andre not helping

   Even with Andre Agassi born and raised in Las Vegas, tennis is a dying sport at the sports books.

   Thirty years ago comedian Alan King used to run one of the country’s most successful pro tennis events at Caesars Palace. Eventually that went away and a women Federation Cup match in the city several years ago was a flop at the gate.

   What happened?

   “Tennis is just a quiver in a pie compared to other sports,” said Jason Been of Las Vegas Sports Consultants. “The U.S. Open does a little business, but there’s just not that much to say about tennis.”

   CLOSER: Watch for college football games left off teasers by the books. They may favor the bettors.