by Paul Magno
In all my time around the sport of boxing, I have never seen such a cynical attempt at matchmaking as the upcoming Oscar de la Hoya vs. Manny Pacquiao bout this Saturday. This is the first major PPV main event designed with ONLY the non-hardcore fan in mind. On paper, to any very casual fan, the matching of boxing’s biggest name against the current Pound for Pound best is exciting…but the real fans know differently…The “real” fans who have actually paid through the years to see Oscar fight a couple of dozen main events and who have followed Pacquiao’s career from the time he first made his big splash in America with a surprisingly dominant Featherweight win over Marco Antonio Barrera…we know.
Golden Boy and Top Rank, the sport’s top two promotional companies have been laying it on thick, hard-selling the so-called “Dream Match” from even before the fight was officially signed. We have had to endure one extremely weak publicity ploy after another. One day, Oscar has a beef with Freddy Roach, then a story is “leaked” out of Oscar’s camp that he has been getting owned by smaller fighters, then it’s “leaked” that Manny has been destroying much larger sparring partners, then they wheel in the Medicare-taking, retired Angelo Dundee…There have been more bad storylines injected into this farce than what we see in a years worth of WWE Monday Night Raw.
While its true that Pacquiao is the consensus #1 ranked pound for pound fighter in the world, you can’t forget the fact that he is just so much smaller than De la Hoya. After all, Pacquiao is a guy who made his pro debut at 106 lbs and was knocked out just 9 years ago at 113 lbs before finding his professional niche between 125-130 lbs. His heaviest weight to date was in his sole Lightweight effort against defending WBC champ, David Diaz. In that bout, it took Pacquiao a great deal of effort to dent up and finally put away the limited Diaz; A Diaz, by the way, who never really injected himself into the fight and seemed content to just hang on for as long as possible.
Now, Manny’s jumping two more weight classes to fight someone much larger, stronger and infinitely more skilled than David Diaz. He’s not only moving up to fight a much better fighter than Diaz, but he’s moving up to fight someone in De la Hoya who has an overall more versatile skill-set than even his own.
Oscar De la Hoya made his pro debut as a freakishly large Lightweight and eventually won titles at every division from Super Featherweight to Middleweight until he settled into his ideal size of 147 to 154. How will Oscar, someone who has fought twice at 160 lbs, against Bernard Hopkins and Felix Sturm, be able to handle the shots of a hard-hitting natural Super Featherweight? Simple logic would tell you that Oscar should be able to withstand anything in Pacquiao’s arsenal and that Manny’s only chance to adversely affect Oscar would be through landing massive volumes of punches- a feat that nobody has ever accomplished in Oscar’s career.
But what happens when/if Oscar connects flush against Manny? Although he has a solid chin, Pacquiao has been hurt before and he’s been hurt by a Flyweight, a Featherweight and a Super Featherweight. While his natural quickness advantage and his southpaw style may allow him to avoid some of Oscar’s best shots, Manny is by no means a defensive genius. He WILL eventually get caught flush. The only question will be how many times will Manny be able to get pegged by a strong Jr. Middleweight before he can no longer absorb the punishment.
I’m not trying to dissuade anyone from buying this PPV. I just don’t want any casual fan buying this fight under the impression that it’s a real, competitive bout. The 55 or 60 dollar bill is a pretty steep price to pay for what will essentially be a novelty fight.
With no titles on the line, no relevancy for either fighter’s true division and no history between the two, all the pre-fight hype seems rather silly. Usually a fight has some sort of storyline, some sort of sense of history or sense of importance to the sport- This one has none of that.
This “Dream Match” between boxing’s biggest draw and its most respected fighter seems to be only about the money- how much each fighter can make individually and how much they can con us into handing over for a fight that, literally, means nothing.