Tonight, Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao is scheduled to face Oscar “The Golden Boy” De La Hoya at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. Presented by Golden Boy Promotions and Top Rank, Inc., the bout (on HBO Pay-Per-View) will be a 12-round, non-title fight contested at the 147-pound welterweight limit. (More after the jump.)
This is simply not your typical matchup. De La Hoya is a light middleweight whose last two fights were at the 150-pound mark. Pacquiao, the Ring Magazine No. 1 pound-for-pound boxer in the world, is the WBC lightweight champion at 135 pounds, taking the belt from David Diaz in June after moving up from the super featherweight class. The best Pound for Pound fighter in the world is a southpaw, and De La Hoya hasn’t fought a lefty since beating Hector “Macho” Camacho in 1997, back when the Golden Boy was The Ring’s Pound for Pound champion. Pacquiao has won his last eight fights in a row and for a smaller fighter, throws with a lot of power. He knocked out Erik Morales twice to avenge his last loss back in 2005, which ironically was also at the MGM Grand. Pacman is staying at Mandalay Bay this week because of that result.
Although Pacquiao goes into the fight widely recognized as the leading pound-for-pound boxer in the world, some boxing experts have speculated that 147 pounds could be too far above his natural weight against the larger De La Hoya. Training for this mega fight, Oscar hired legendary trainers Angelo Dundee, Nacho Beristain, and young boxing talent Edwin Valero. The Golden Boy recently told the media that his team is unbeatable, while Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach responded with, “No one is going to be able to help Oscar pull the trigger when he faces Manny Pacquiao on Dec. 6”.
While the odds are still with Oscar, this showdown will still be considered as the fight of the year and possibly break pay per view records in boxing history. Pacquiao will receive $15 to 30 million (share of the pay-per-view), plus a guaranteed amount. This fight clearly will feature one of the biggest attractions ever to set foot in the ring. De La Hoya’s 2007 fight against Floyd Mayweather drew a record 2.2 million PPV buys and $120 million in revenue. Even in today’s rough economy, this bout with Manny Pacquiao is expected to be far and away the top money fight of 2008.
35 knockouts in his career, across five different weight classes would suggest that Pacman can hang with the best of them, even as the smaller man; which he has been for most of his career. The biggest question is whether the 12 pounds added by Pacquiao for this fight, will affect the incredible speed that he is known for. In adding so much weight, he risks losing his main weapon against the more methodical De La Hoya. In De La Hoya’s Middleweight fight against Bernard Hopkins, Oscar found it difficult to get near the larger Hopkins. When he did get close enough, his power did not show. Over the years, when there’s been such a significant difference in size, it has taken a spectacular performance from the “David” to take down the “Goliath.”
Pacman however, is unlike any other fighter. His style and uncanny ability to successfully connect various combinations will make him a very difficult opponent. De La Hoya will be able to muscle Pacman around the ring when close, but if Pacman is at the top of his game, he could very well make the bigger and older De La Hoya work very hard to chase him down. In Pacman’s last fight, coming up from Super Featherweight to Lightweight, he dominated David Diaz, ending it with a ninth round TKO. Over his career, Pacquiao has consistently stepped up through the weight classes to become a four weight World Champion, and has still been able to impose his distinct style on opponents, regardless of the size difference.
Another factor that makes this such an interesting matchup is desire. This is Pacman’s biggest payday ever, easily reaching eight figures. If he wins, they will back up the money truck again for a fight against Ricky Hatton, who is scheduled to be in the building to watch his next opponent. If he loses, it’s back to the lower weight classes and the lower paydays. De La Hoya is nearing the end of his career and has more money than he can count. He bought Ring Magazine last year and has his own clothing line. There’s nothing left for the Golden Boy to prove. If Pacman can keep his speed and retain some of the power that he had at Super Featherweight and Lightweight, we may very well witness one of the greatest upsets in boxing history.
Here is the tale of the tape for both men:
De La Hoya
Record: 39-5 (30 KO)
Height: 5-foot-10 1/2
Reach: 73 inches
Record: 47-3-2 (35 KO)
Height: 5-foot-6 1/2
Reach: 67 inches