First Thoughts on De La Hoya-Pacquiao

It's now official. As reported by just about every media source known to man, Oscar De La Hoya and Manny Pacquiao will fight Dec. 6 in Las Vegas. The bout will take place at the welterweight limit of 147 pounds, two full weight classes higher than Pacquiao has ever competed and a weight that De La Hoya has not made since March of 2001.

From a business standpoint, it goes without saying that the fight is tremendous. It's the biggest fight that could be put together between any two boxers in the sport - yes, bigger than De La Hoya facing Floyd Mayweather again - and the rare match-up in the current day and age that will garner huge mainstream media attention. With two highly loyal and vocal ethnic followings involved, there's little doubt it will do sensational, possibly record numbers at the gate and on pay-per-view.

The curiosity factor among boxing fans should also run high. Manny looked so dominant in dismantling David Diaz in his first fight at lightweight that it's easy to see why some people will feel that he'll simply be too fast for the older, slower De La Hoya. Likewise, the Golden Boy will enjoy such an obvious advantage in size that others will say he'll just be too big and strong for Pacquiao to have a real shot at beating him.

It's way too early to make an official prediction on this one, but here's a sobering thought for Pacquiao supporters: every boxer who continues to climb in weight eventually finds a level where the extra pounds sap him of the advantages he had over lighter opponents.

Take the case of a Franchise favorite, Shane Mosley. As a long-reigning champion at 135 pounds, Sugar Shane was a terror, possessing great power for his size and overwhelming some of his foes with his ridiculous hand speed. He still looked fine when he leaped up two classes to campaign at 147 - even taking a split decision against De La Hoya in his third fight at that weight - but he no longer looked dominant.

At 154 pounds, Mosley finally bit off more than he could chew. Two consecutive losses to Winky Wright saw Shane only able to throw his patented "punches in bunches" for short spurts, and while his opponents will probably tell you he still hit plenty hard, he just didn't have the same KO power at the higher weight. His record tells the tale - since his first foray at 154 pounds in early 2003, his only two knockout wins came against Fernando Vargas.

I could see the same scenario happening to Manny. He's two years younger than Shane was when he made the leap, and his natural speed is probably greater. But it's hard to imagine he'll carry the same pop at 147, and since Oscar has fought as high as 160, he's used to being hit by bigger, presumably stronger men. That seems to be a pretty strong argument against Pacquiao knocking De La Hoya out.

At the same time, we've seen plenty of boxers, especially older ones, get sapped of their strength and energy when cutting weight late in their careers - Chris Byrd is a notable recent example. What Oscar's trying to do isn't nearly as dramatic, and he looked fine at 150 against Steve Forbes. It's certainly something worth considering though.

These are the kinds of things fans and experts will be dissecting for the next few months as the countdown begins toward Manny's biggest challenge (literally) and Oscar's final fight. Or is it? Despite sticking to his "2008 exit strategy" for most of the last year, now comes word that he's not talking about retirement as he prepares for Pacquiao.

Could De La Hoya be leaving himself a little bit of an out in case he loses? It's another interesting twist in a scenario I would have thought unthinkable a year ago.


De La Hoya-Pacquiao Fight to be Announced Thursday

First it seemed like a pipe dream. Then it appeared it would fall apart over money. Now the much discussed Oscar De La Hoya-Manny Pacquiao fight - a fight that could be the Golden Boy's last - looks like it will take place on December 6.

ESPN's Dan Rafael reports that two sources close to the fight say that it's on and that it will be announced by De La Hoya at a Thursday teleconference. No word yet on how the split of revenue from the bout, which was the major sticking point in negotiations, has been resolved. Amusingly, Freddie Roach says in the story that he got a voice mail from Manny saying, "Thanks for all your help," so he assumes the deal is done.

The venue is likely to be the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Expect to see a lot more about this fight from every possible boxing news source over the next few days.


Franchise Thoughts: Olympic-Sized Diappointment, Roach's Idea a Winning Gamble and More

As you may have been able to tell from the lack of activity around here for the last two weeks, the BoxingWatchers have been on vacation! Sadly, there were no fights in Atlantic City during the time the Watchers spent at the Jersey Shore, but there was plenty of boxing on TV thanks to CNBC's six hours of daily coverage from the Olympic Games in Beijing.

Ah, but what sounded like heaven for a fan of the sweet science turned out to be anything but. After the first few days of competition, it became clear that the scoring system used in Olympic boxing make the sport almost unwatchable.

Much has been written about the system and its flaws by better writers, so I won't go into detail except to say this: the judges rarely awarded points for body punches and never gave out multiple points for consecutive clean punches landing in combination. That means that the bouts basically boiled down to who could land the most single shots to the head. Add in the fact that the fighters who are in the lead routinely run for the entire final round and it's a bad scene the whole way around.

Jim Gray spoke to the head of USA Boxing yesterday during CNBC's coverage, and he made a good point that simply replacing the scoring system with one used in professional boxing isn't necessarily the answer, since we all know pro fights have their share of scoring controversies. But something needs to be done, because it almost turns one of the greatest sports in the world into a farce.

Oh, and lest anyone think this is a bitter dose of homerism since the U.S. team has been an unmitigated failure in Beijing, I should say that I saw equally horrendous scores in fights that did not involve American fighters. Kevin Iole wrote a good piece on how to fix Olympic boxing for the intro to his mailbag earlier in the week.

Meanwhile, in slightly happier boxing news, Dan Rafael of ESPN.com wrote in his blog yesterday that Freddie Roach had a clever idea for saving De La Hoya-Pacquiao: split the purse 60-30 and have 10 percent reserved for the winner of the fight. The gambler in me loves that idea. I'm sure the gambler in Manny loves that idea. Will Oscar? Probably not, but we can hope.

Fellow BoxingWatcher Spartan117 thought the fighters might have a problem with the possibility of getting screwed out of the 10 percent by wacky judging - and let's face it, 10 percent of this fight will be a lot of money. I don't think that's a problem though, as you could simply say the winner only gets the extra money if he wins by KO or a unanimous decision, which usually aren't screw jobs (except for Bernard Hopkins fights!). Any other outcome would split the total pot 65-35, which is probably where the compromise would end up settling anyway.

I'm a fan of merit-based pay, and the UFC does something similar by granting win bonuses to its fighters. There's really no reason it can't at least be given some serious consideration, and if it helps a deal for the fight to get done, I'm all for it.


Friday Night Fights Round By Round: Gonzalez vs. Cloud

The Friday Night Fights main event for August 8 features an intriguing match-up between veteran Julio Gonzalez and undefeated youngster Tavoris Cloud. Gonzalez has fought against some of the best, including Roy Jones Jr., while Cloud has yet to take a significant step up in terms of level of competition.

Round 1

Cloud's first few jabs knock Gonzalez back a step. Now he throws some thumping left hooks against the ropes. Gonzalez throwing power shots back. Both men jab in the center of the ring. Another stiff left from Cloud and they both swing away. A right hand stuns Gonzalez and Cloud swings for the fences. Julio tries to hold on in the corner but he's got 30 more seconds to go. Right hand right down the pike but Gonzalez holds on.

Franchise: 10-9 Cloud

Round 2

Gonzalez looks like he's okay, relatively speaking. He's throwing and moving to start the second round. Right hook to the body by Cloud. The fight moves in close and the ref tells them to work. Gonzalez getting off better in tight. The ref warns Julio to keep them up. Cloud with a left hook and a right. Right to the body follows. Gonzalez tries to jab his way out of danger. Cloud lands another sharp right hook. They battle all the way to the bell.

Franchise: 10-9 Cloud

Round 3

Julio jabbing again to open the round. Nice left upstairs by Cloud but Gonzalez comes forward. Both men land to the body. Double jab by Cloud. Uppercuts by Gonzalez as he's backed into the corner. Left hook by Cloud finally backs up his foe. Cloud loads up some more big bombs but mostly misses in the closing seconds. Closest round so far.

Franchise: 10-9 Cloud

Round 4

Slower start to this one. The action moves in tight in the center of the ring. The announcers are wondering aloud if Cloud can keep up the pace. Julio coming in but Cloud landing shots with both hands. He really doesn't get cheated when he swings away. Big miss on an uppercut. Left and an uppercut but Gonzalez lands one of his own. Mean uppercut again by Cloud at the bell.

Franchise: 10-9 Cloud

Round 5

Jabs by Julio. Now a right hand upstairs. Sharp jab by Cloud. He really steps into them. Right to the body gets Julio another warning for low shots. More clinching in this round. Both guys swinging away in close. Double left to the body and one upstairs and Gonzalez looks hurt. Several big right hands land but Gonzalez shows tremendous heart by surviving that barrage and lasting through the round.

Franchise: 10-9 Cloud

Round 6

This is the first time Cloud has ever been past the fifth round. Julio still throwing - he's got some chin. Big right counter shot by Cloud. Rights to the body and head along the ropes. Thumping left hook by Cloud. Ninety seconds left and Gonzalez is in survival mode again. Cloud pouring it on with both hands but Julio refuses to go down. Impressive showing for both fighters, albeit for different reasons.

Franchise: 10-9 Cloud

Round 7

Jabs to start things out again. Double left by Cloud. It feels like the calm before the storm right now. Gonzalez lands a few shots as Cloud tries to work in. Big right hand by Cloud. Julio fights off the ropes back into the center. They clinch and the ref steps in. Both guys working but Cloud lands a few bigger punches in the last 15 seconds of the round.

Franchise: 10-9 Cloud

Round 8

Another slower start to the eighth. Gonzalez flicking out a lot of jabs. Julio comes forward and both men land short shots inside. Two punch combos both ways. Left to the body by Cloud and just misses upstairs. Now a right to the head. Cloud dances away and they end up clinched in the center. That was actually a pretty close round.

Franchise: 10-9 Cloud

Round 9

Julio lands the first punches of this round as he gamely comes forward. We'll see if Cloud is tiring. Gonzalez stays busy with the jab. Now a big right hand upstairs from Cloud. Cloud ties it up in the corner. Right hand by Julio but he eats one coming back. Decent shots by both men on the inside. Cloud takes a few punches as he comes in and can't seem to find the range for his bombs.

Franchise: 10-9 Gonzalez

Round 10

Cloud comes out with a bit more fire. Nice left hook to the head. Good exchange from very close range. Shannon Briggs thinks Cloud is wary about Gonzalez trying to get him to punch himself out. Triple jab by Cloud. Now a right knocks Julio back. Body shots with both hands by Cloud. Cloud might be feeling it again with 30 seconds left. Two chopping rights have Gonzalez dazed. A huge right hand lands square from Cloud and the ref calls a stop to it.

The winner by TKO at 2:50 of round 10... Tavoris Cloud.

No doubt Gonzalez would have kept fighting, but that looked like a good stoppage as he was absorbing the type of beating that could cause serious damage. It doesn't look like they will talk to Cloud, but he had to win some fans tonight with an eye-opening display of power punching.


BoxingWatchers Live on the Scene: Broadway Boxing

Uatu crawled out of his mother's basement to take in the Broadway Boxing Show at B.B. King's in Times Square.

B.B. King's is a surprising yet great venue to watch fights. There are no bad seats. Everyone, including those in standing room, can easily see the action. The bar is immeditately behind the rows of seats, and there were probably only six rows. As a paying customer with a ticketed seat, the only person with a better view was the ref. And these tickets aren't in the thousands of dollars range like a casino fight, the tickets were very affordable.

The evening was conducted at a brisk pace. There were no lulls or pauses between fights. As soon as the previous fight ended, no more than 5 minutes or so elapsed before the next began.

Adding to a great atmosphere were the fans. Especially raucous were the fans that backed Joe Moore. There was a large Irish contingent in the crowd chanting soccer chants and waving a flag during his fight. Slightly disappointing was the fact that the crowd adopted the "Walking in a Winter Wonderland" melody most famously used for Ricky Hatton and altering the lyrics for Moore. Personally, Uatu would like to see that chant reserved for Hatton.

As far as the fights go, they were filled with action and there were some decent scraps. Dat Nguyen won by majority decision, letting you know that he was in against a fighter that had come to win. Moore too won his fight by decision. The main event was very short, as Randall Bailey won by KO from a vicious body shot in the opening seconds of the first round. All in all the fights were fun especially with how close the action is to the fans.

As a fan it also a treat to see some famous fighters walking around through the crowd like normal fans do. No entourages, no bad attitudes, just regular people. Some of the DiBella fighters were in attendance, as Uatu saw Paulie Malignaggi and Andre Berto. Not sure if he is a DiBella fighter but Kermit Cintron was in the crowd. Uatu also thought he saw Chazz Witherspoon too, but he is unsure.

So, the bottom line is that it was a great night. It is a must attend for anyone who is a big time fight fan.

Franchise Thoughts: De La Hoya-Pacquiao One Step Closer to Reality?

Unthinkable as it would have seemed just six months ago, the once laughable idea of Oscar De La Hoya and Manny Pacquiao facing off in the ring is looking more and more like it might happen. ESPN's Dan Rafael is reporting that Golden Boy and Top Rank began formally negotiating for a Dec. 6 showdown.

Normally I'd feel that having smooth negotiations between De La Hoya's people and Bob Arum would be one of the signs of the Apocalypse, but when there's as much money to be made as this fight would generate, just about anyone can work together. Indeed, both Arum and Richard Schaefer are quoted in the article saying that money is the main issue, as matters like gloves and weight class really aren't that big a deal.

Think about that last statement for a moment. Manny's last fight was his first ever at 135 pounds. Oscar has fought as high as 160 - four weight classes above lightweight. Even if he comes down to 147, which is what Arum and company seem to be pushing for, it's a huge jump for Pacquiao.

Much as I'd love to see Pacman wipe the omnipresent smile off the Golden Boy's face (Disclaimer: All staff members of BoxingWatchers.com are part Filipino!), it may be too much even for him. At some point, every boxer who keeps stepping up in weight finds one where they've gone too high.

And what about De La Hoya? While he and his camp can always point to the fact that most experts say Pacquiao is the current pound-for-pound king, there's no denying that if he wins the fight, he beat a much smaller man. As Kevin Iole points out, except for money, what's there to gain from that?

I always thought that boxing's many weight classes impose too many restrictions on fights that could be made. But if Pavlik-Hopkins and De La Hoya-Pacquiao are the kind of fights that are made when thinking outside of the weight class box, maybe they serve a good purpose after all.

Around the Internets: It was kind of surprising when Ricky Hatton and trainer Billy Graham announced they were parting ways. I missed this last week, but apparently Hatton may be turning to Floyd Mayweather Sr.... Don't forget that CNBC will have extensive coverage of boxing during the Summer Olympics. Cliff Rold has a good breakdown of the U.S. boxing team on MaxBoxing.


Round by Round: Judah v. Clottey

We just finished watching the now classic Cotto v. Margarito and it's time for the main event. Judah is back in the ring after canceling his last bout with Shane Mosley because of a hand injury. He faces Joshua Clottey, who is 34-2 with 20 KOs. Tonight's fight is for a title, but the winner, if he wins convincingly, will also get back into the upper echelon of welterweights.

Rd 1: Zab strikes first and establishes the jab. He gets off between 7 and 10 punches before Clottey throws a punch. Clottey looks to be waiting to counter. Clottey is keeping his hands high. Clottey lands a grazing hook and backs up Judah. Judah is using good upper body movement to get out of the way of Clottey's fists. Clottey gets in close and lands a combo to the body. Clottey is the aggressor in this round. Clotey lands a strong counter. Zab sticks with the jab but they have mostly been blocked. Clottey backs Judah up again.

Spartan117: 10-9 Clottey
Uatu: 10-9 Judah

Rd 2: Zab uses his jab some more. Clottey throws a hard combo but Judah blocks it well. They square up in the middle of the ring. Judah now starts to throw good combos and scores. Clottey now goes to work to the body. Judah follows suit and throws some shots to the body. Judah's punches look as fast as ever. Zab gets some good jabs in between the gloves. Judah is the more active fighter in this round.

Spartan117: 10-9 Judah
Uatu: 10-9 Clottey

Rd 3: Clottey's trainers tell him to work the body. Judah is doing a good job of hitting and ducking. Judah throws a good combo to the body that scores. Clottey gets Zab against the ropes and lands a hook to the body and head. Judah clinches to get out. Clottey is now turning up the punching output. Both fighters are throwing more punches to the body, probably because they are both keeping their defense high. Clottey has been winning on the ropes and Judah has been winning in the center.

Spartan117: 10-9 Clottey
Uatu: 10-9 Judah

Rd 4: Judah slips on the canvas and Clottey takes advantage and lands two shots. Judah composes himself and throws multiple combos and lands most of his punches. Clottey is now complaining about a low blow. It looked on the low side but not that low. The ref says fight on. Judah's face is starting to swell. Clottey comes in and lands a solid jab. Judah now takes more punishment but fights through it. Clottey lands some heavy shots in round 4.

Spartan117: 10-9 Clottey
Uatu: 10-9 Clottey

Rd 5: Clottey moves forward and Judah stays light on his feet, ready to dodge. Judah's upper body movement has helped him get out of the way of some big shots. Clottey has been getting some uppercuts through the gloves of Zab. It doesn't look like Zab's punches are taking a toll on Clottey. Clottey leads in with a straight right. Clottey smiles at Zab's lightning fast combo at the end of the round.

Spartan117: 10-9 Clottey
Uatu: 10-9 Judah

Rd 6: Zab turns up the intensity at the start of the round. Most are blocked. Zab looks ready to get out of the way of Clottey's punches. Zab doubles up with the combos and lands to the body of Clottey. Zab gets in trouble for another low blow and Clottey is given time to regroup. Zab does not lose a point. Clottey now goes back to counter punching. Zab is landing more punches but Clottey is landing the cleaner punches.

Spartan117: 10-9 Judah
Uatu: 10-9 Judah

Rd 7: Clottey's stronger punches are landing as we get into the later rounds. Judah is still moving around a lot and moves out of the way. Max Kellerman now quotes Robert Frost. Clottey lands a bomb of a combo and Judah is in trouble in the corner. He dodges and holds on to make it out of the round.

Spartan117: 10-9 Clottey
Uatu: 10-9 Clottey

Rd 8: Judah's punch output has been fading as the fight moves on and Clottey continues to land at a higher percentage. In this round Judah is throwing more now and Clottey is throwing less. The fight is still very close and Judah is showing that he really wants to win. Judah's face is badly swollen and his nose is bleeding profusely. Judah is still fighting back very hard. Clottey gets backed into the ropes and takes some serious bombs by Judah. It wasn't enough to steal the round in my opinion.

Spartan117: 10-9 Clottey
Uatu: 10-9 Clottey

Rd 9: Zab doesn't look tired in there as he continues to duck and dodge. Clottey is now throwing more and Judah is on the run. A cut has opened over the right eye of Judah. The ref stops the action to examine the cut and it's being ruled as an accidental clash of heads. Judah says that he can't see and the fight is stopped. Clottey is being raised by his camp as if he is the winner but the fight must go to the scorecards.

Spartan117: 10-9 Clottey
Uatu: 10-9 Clottey

Judge 1: 86-85 Judge 2: 87-84 Judge 3: 86-85
All for the winner by unanimous decision, Joshua Clottey.
Spartan 117: 88-83 Clottey
Uatu: 86-85 Clottey

After examination of the replay, it appears that the cut was opened by an uppercut by Clottey.

Clottey says that everyone knew that Zab would get tired after the 4th round, so he trained to bring the pain after that round. He says that Zab never hurt him and nobody in his boxing career has ever hurt him. He says of course he wants Margarito, but if that can't happen he says he wants Andre Berto, which I think would be an amazing fight.

Judah says he knows that Clottey always headbutts. Kellerman shows him the replay that shows the cut being opened by an uppercut by Clottey. Zab is speechless for a few seconds, then says to trust him that it was a headbutt. He asks the fans who won and the crowd chants for Judah.

Round by Round: Dimitri Kirilov vs. Vic Darchinyan

Round 1
Kirilov shows movement. Straight lefts from Vic multiple times. Big round for Vic.
Uatu: Darchinyan 10-9

Round 2
Vic jabbing more this round. Lots of Vic offense. Vic is raking body and head.
Uatu: Darchinyan 10-9

Round 3
More big shots from Vic.
Vic out-throwing and out-landing by a wide magin. Kirilov got in his first big shot after a Vic flurry. Vic's left landing almost at will.
Uatu: Darchinyan 10-9

Round 4
Kirilov doing better now. Possibly he weathered the storm. Vic doing his usual rough-housing, pushing, bullying and tossing.
Uatu: Darchinyan 10-9

Round 5
Kirilov finally gets toppled. Down he goes! It wasn't too vicious. Vic pressing hard now. Really trying to close the show. Dimitri goes down again! This time he doesn't beat the count.
Darchinyan wins by KO!

The Raging Bull raged the entire fight.
It was a very impressive performance. Kirilov never had a moment to breathe and Vic began, continued, and finished with nothing but hard shots that landed regularly.

Post-fight, Darchinyan says he is looking for unification.

Mike Paschal vs. Andre Dirrell

Good action in rounds one through three. Paschal was game and at least in the fight.

In the fourth round, Dirrell landed one left hand that absolutely split open Paschal's forehead. The cut poured and poured blood so the doc had to look at it. Paschal begged and pleaded for one more round but to no avail. The doc stopped the fight and Dirrell won by fourth round TKO.

Dirrell was up by one point on all three cards. All three in press row had it 30-27.

Live Round By Round Updates Tonight: Judah-Clottey

So many questions to answer on HBO tonight. Questions such as:

Is this really Zab Judah's last shot?

Does Josh Clottey really want to win the right to get beat up by... I mean, take on Antonio Margarito for a second time?

Wouldn't it sound better if it was "Super" Zab Judah instead of Zab "Super" Judah?

That last one's always bothered me... Anyway, if you can't catch the fight on TV tonight, join Spartan117 here on BoxingWatchers.com for live (and fast!) round by round updates as Judah and Clottey collide.

BoxingWatchers.com Boxer Power Rankings: July 2008

We definitely had to wait until the month of July was completely finished to roll out updated power rankings since the Cotto-Margarito took place on the final weekend. Now we've got some movement both up and down the top 10 thanks to some big performances on the part of some boxers and inactivity on the part of others.

If you're not familiar with how our rankings work, the first thing you're going to do is look at them and say, "How the hell can Cotto be above Margarito?" Well folks, this isn't a pound-for-pound list, but a pseudo-mathematical reflection of how fighters have fared over a rolling three-year period. While Cotto is falling thanks to his KO loss, he's still faced and beaten more quality fighters in that time than Margarito - though that's not necessarily Tony's fault, since numerous potential foes wanted no part of him. The Tijuana Tornado does make his well-deserved return to this list though, and if he adds another win later this year he should continue to climb.

For now, here's how we stand at the end of July, 2008:

1. David Haye - 24.15 - I've heard from fans who want to see The Hayemaker in against Wladimir Klitschko now, but it would behoove him to get his feet wet against other heavyweights first. Still waiting to see who he'll face in November.

2. Kelly Pavlik - 23.03 - The Ghost is kind of in a no-win situation against Bernard Hopkins this fall, as The Executioner can make even someone with Pavlik's talent look bad. Hope for an exciting fight but don't be shocked if it's less than thrilling.

3. Wladimir Klitschko - 23.00 - He proved at least a little bit with his knockout of Tony Thompson. Wlad still seems awfully vulnerable for someone who aspires to be universally recognized as the heavyweight champion of the world.

4. Manny Pacquiao - 20.61 - Like Haye, Pacman has a November date in mind for his next fight but no dance partner as of yet. It remains to be seen if a bout with Oscar De La Hoya is reality or fantasy.

5. Arthur Abraham - 19.29 - Probably the guy Pavlik should be fighting, though it doesn't seem too economically appealing since King Arthur isn't well known to the general public. While he awaits his big chance, he'll stay busy taking on Raul Marquez in October.

6. Miguel Cotto - 18.07 - On top of this list just a few months ago, the proud Puerto Rican has to regroup after his punishing loss to Antonio Margarito. His next outing will tell us a lot about the size of his heart.

7. Antonio Margarito - 16.00 - The Tijuana Tornado is on top of the world and in better position than ever to have foes come to him instead of vice versa. We know for sure that he won't back down from anyone.

8. Israel Vazquez - 15.13 - Fans would love to see him back in the ring, but there still hasn't been word of an upcoming fight.

9. Chris John - 15.05 - My streak of never seeing John fight adds another month.

10. Nate Campbell - 13.67 - Has a chance to impress any lingering doubters by beating Joan Guzman in September, but the lightweight picture is as muddled as any division right now.

The next 7: Juan Diaz, Joe Calzaghe, Ricky Hatton, Cristian Mijares, Samuel Peter, Paul Williams, Nonito Donaire