Some say boxing is a dying sport, with the quality of fighters diminishing (or maybe just their bank-ability) and the rise of MMA (mixed martial arts), but you wouldn’t know that with the hype and excitement surrounding the upcoming welterweight bout between the legendary Oscar De La Hoya and the sport’s pound-for-pound best, Manny Pacquiao.
It’s being dubbed the “Dream Match,” a $100 million fight in the midst of a recession, all done through Oscar’s Golden Boy Promotions. And others, they’re calling it a “Mis-Match.”
The main issue of Saturday’s (December 6) match at Las Vegas’ MGM Grand is weight. The Filipino superstar is meeting the Mexican fighter at 147 pounds, and experts feel that gain in weight may affect Pacquiao’s speed and power against a naturally bigger De La Hoya.
Pac Man began his career at 106 pounds, and has never fought above 135. In fact, he’s only once fought at that weight — lightweight — when he beat David Diaz in the ninth round in June to win the WBC title. De La Hoya, on the other hand, started as a lightweight, way back in 1992. He’s fought at 154 pounds and above since 2001.
The Filipino fighter had to come up three weight divisions to meet De La Hoya, while De La Hoya had to come down just one. Still, Pacquiao’s team is confident the size difference will not be a factor.
“I don’t think size wins this fight, I think speed does,” Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, told Reuters. “The bigger guy doesn’t always win. The reach advantage is taken away so easily just by getting close to the guy.
“[De La Hoya] needs room to punch. Oscar’s a long puncher, Manny’s a short puncher. We get inside on him, then we have an advantage,” he continued.
While Pacquiao’s strategy will be to stay away from Oscar’s left hook, and get inside on him, De La Hoya’s team says they know how to neutralize Pacquiao’s blinding speed. They say they learned it from a classic bout similar to this one.
“We found out stuff he can do against Pacquiao,” De La Hoya’s trainer Angelo Dundee told reports Thursday (December 4). “Exactly what we did, that’s our business, and you’ll see on Saturday night.
“There are certain things you can do in a fight. Like when Ray Leonard fought Marvin Hagler [in 1987], I noticed that every time Hagler stepped forward, he would punch. … So I said to Ray Leonard, when he steps, take a move, so he can’t punch. Manny Pacquiao does things like that. And we know what he does,” he continued.
Both fighters have something to prove. Pacquiao fights to maintain his #1 pound-for-pound fighter status as well as his pride and a chance at much bigger bouts in the near future, while De La Hoya is determined to dismiss notions that he’s too old for the sport and/or that boxing is strictly a business for him these days.
The answers will come on Saturday night in Las Vegas. For those not heading to Vegas, it is available on HBO Pay-Per-View.