Dream Fight or Nightmare Mismatch?

By Francis Walker
Updated: September 5, 2008

NEW YORK — The “Golden Boy” Oscar De La Hoya (39-5, 30 KOs) has decided to fight WBC lightweight champion Manny Pacquiao (47-3-2, 35 KOs) on December 6, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The bout will be televised live on HBO Pay-Per-View.

On paper, this fight is a dream match between Pacquiao, the most exciting fighter in the world pound-for-pound, and De La Hoya, boxing’s all-time pay-per-view king.

De La Hoya vs. Pacquiao is a contrast in styles between a conventional fighter and a southpaw. In theory the fight represents action, excitement, worldwide interest, and (most importantly) big money.

The reality is, however, Pacquiao, at 5-foot-4, is seven inches shorter than Oscar. Pacquiao is moving up two weight divisions from 135 to meet De La Hoya at the 147-pound welterweight limit.

De La Hoya has made a career out of smashing smaller opponents – Rafael Marquez, Jorge Paez, Hector Camacho, Jessie James Leija, Artutro Gatti, Patrick Charpentier, and others.

At age 35, De La Hoya has slowed down a bit, but only a little. De La Hoya may not be as difficult to hit as he was years ago, but is still one of the better conditioned fighters in boxing.

De La Hoya’s still fighting the biggest names in the sport and continues to have an excellent chance to defeat anyone he fights – regardless. Thanks in part to Floyd Mayweather, Sr.

Retirement is not an option

“Once we’re in the gym, once we’re letting punches fly and once we’re sparring and once I start feeling great with my speed and my power and when I’m with Mayweather and things are going great, you forget about all that,” De La Hoya commented about retirement. “You start thinking about, hey, I can fight 10 more times.”

Size will be an issue for Pacquiao, who will have a distinct height, weight, and reach deficiency. De La Hoya, nevertheless, believes that the size difference between himself and Pacquiao isn’t a big deal. De La Hoya acknowledges Pacquiao’s strength, despite having started his career at 106 pounds in 1995.

De La Hoya believes that the key to beating Pacquiao will be speed.

“I do have to adjust to his speed,” De La Hoya commented. “I know he’s a strong fighter. I know he’s a very powerful puncher with both hands. But I think the tricky part about it is going to be the speed, so I have to figure out a way to pull the trigger…”

While De La Hoya points toward speed being a key in the fight, Pacqauio believes that he’s stronger than De La Hoya.


“He’s taller than me,” Pacquiao said, “but I believe that I am stronger than him.”

The only logical explanation for that quote is perhaps Pacquiao’s belief that his inner strength (heart, desire, willpower) is bigger than Oscar’s. Make no mistake, De La Hoya is a competitor and wants to win. But is he as hungry as Pacquiao?

“I think I can beat De La Hoya,” Pacquiao said. “I saw his last performance on the last fight and I think I’m faster and stronger than him, and I’m younger. And also I think that I believe I can give him in the way that I – no, no, I did (there) in my last fight.

So I think that the point is my speed is going to be a big favor in this fight, but I think that Oscar de la Hoya is – he has an advantage by the height and he’s bigger in height. . So it’s going to be a great fight.

De La Hoya vs. Pacquiao, as Oscar has stated, represents a “challenge” for him. It’s a challenge for De La Hoya to fight the #1-ranked fighter in the world pound for pound. If anyone should feel that this fight is a challenge, it should be Pacquiao because, he’ll be fighting in an unfamiliar territory – the welterweight division.

De La Hoya vs. Pacquiao was made because the economics of boxing and pay-tv allowed it. De La Hoya is at the point where he can fight anyone he chooses and make a lot of money – multimillions. Pacquiao is a national icon in the Philippines with a strong U.S. following. De La Hoya vs. Pacquiao is the biggest fight that can be made on the global front.

De La Hoya is interested in big money fights. Although the welterweight fight that should be made is De La Hoya vs. Antonio Margarito, De La Hoya is beyond wanting to rule the welterweight division or any other weight class. De La Hoya is interested in making big fights, huge events. De La Hoya vs. Pacquiao is just that – a big fight, a huge event.

Pacquiao was very modest on a recent conference call. Pacquiao has to give us a little more than, “I always do my job in the ring and I’ve done my best to give a good fight and to win this fight.”

Pacquiao, when he fights, isn’t a modest fighter. Pacquiao does more than try to give a good fight. He is ruthless and aggressive. He fights hard, pressing for the knockout, and fights to win in exciting fashion.

Look up Pacquiao’s destruction of Mexican greats Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera. Review Pacquiao’s vicious knockouts of Lehlohonolo Ledwaba, Emmanuel Lucero, and in June David Diaz.

Pacquiao is a fighting machine – automatic and without remorse.

Hopefully the PR moguls at Top Rank can spice up Pacquiao’s podium skills in an attempt to convince both the boxing community and the sports world that he has a legitimate chance to defeat the much larger De La Hoya. Have Pacquiao boast about his biggest wins during a forth coming press tour. Otherwise, THE PERCEPTION of De La Hoya being too big for a small Pacquiao will remain soundly intact.

However, should De La Hoya lose to Pacquiao, the “Golden Boy” should retire.

Mora vs. Forrest II looms

The rematch between undefeated WBC super welterweight champion and “The Contender” star Sergio Mora (21-0, 5 KOs) and former two division champion Vernon Forrest (40-3, 29 KOs) is a little more than two weeks away.

Mora-Forrest 2 will be the chief co-featured attraction to Juan Manuel Marquez vs. Joel Casamayor on September 13, at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Both bouts will be aired On HBO Pay-Per-View.

The last time Mora and Forrest fought was in June. Forrest, making the second defense of the WBC 154-pound title, appeared to have built a sizable lead on the scorecards before falling asleep in the driver’s seat.

The young 27-year-young hustled his way back into the fight and made the older Forrest look like on old 37. Mora beat Forrest, via majority decision: 116-112, 115-113, and 114-114 on the official scorecards.

“This time around, I expect him to be more focused,” Mora recently stated, “obviously we know each other a little bit better so he knows what to expect of me and I certainly know what to expect of him. So with comfort comes, a more exciting fight because we’re willing to take more chances on both sides.”

Forrest believes that the rematch will be completely different from their first bout.

“I had to great wins prior to that,” said Forrest referring to his decisive against Carlos Baldomir and Michele Piccirillo in 2007. “You’ve got to stay hungry and you’ve got to stay on course of what got you there, and for me just really just doing what I do best.”

Remember Forrest has had surgeries on both his left and right shoulders and he’s older. Always a good technician, Forrest is indeed textbook and very good when he’s at the top of his game.

Will Forrest’s A game be good enough to regain the 154-pound title from the man who beat him? It should be a good fight.