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.


uatu said...

Sounds Like Oscar Is Not Done. Uatu Predicts The Winner Of This Fight, Especially If Manny, Lures One Pretty Boy Floyd Mayweather Out Of Retirement-from The 2005 Sanyo

uatu said...

Sounds Like Oscar Is Not Done. Uatu Predicts The Winner Of This Fight, Especially If Manny, Lures One Pretty Boy Floyd Mayweather Out Of Retirement-from The 2005 Sanyo