De La Hoya vs Pacquiao - Let the Boxing Debate Begin
By Eric Marks, (Oct 2, 2008) Doghouse Boxing (Photo © Tom Hogan/Golden Boy Promotions)  
The presidential debates are not the only thing people are talking about this time of year. On December 6th, Oscar De La Hoya and Manny Pacquiao will meet in biggest fight of the year. Interest is sky high, as indicated by the speed in which tickets for the event sold out. Like a presidential race, it’s never too early to begin discussions.

The massive following of Oscar De La Hoya even at this stage of his career is quite remarkable. After all, he is in no one’s top
ten list of today’s best fighters and in some minds he barely breaks the top 20. Furthermore, he’s been relatively inactive for the last five years and can’t make up his mind on retirement. Yet, the Golden Boy single-handedly keeps boxing on the radar.

Like the Steve Forbes fight, many will suggest this fight with Pacquiao is a losing prospect for Oscar. If he can’t knock ‘Pac Man’ out he’ll be considered washed up, lacking power, or some other negative connotation. If he does knock out Pacquiao, we’ll that’s what a great fighter is supposed to do.

Looking at De La Hoya’s last two fights against Mayweather and Forbes reveals two common denominators: a) Oscar was hit with ease by both fighters; and b) De La Hoya could not use his size advantage to overpower the smaller men. He beat Forbes primarily with a good jab and to Oscar’s credit showed good stamina. Furthermore, Forbes has a solid chin and at times looked like he was only in the ring to go the distance rather than win the fight…so in this regard De La Hoya not stopping Forbes may have had more to do with Forbes than any loss of power on De La Hoya’s part. Nevertheless, he was expected to stop Forbes and even De La Hoya looked disappointed when it didn’t happen.

Manny Pacquiao’s strategy will be perhaps the most interesting aspect to this fight. Pacquiao’s advantages over De La Hoya are obvious: youth and endurance. This would seem to indicate that Pacquiao may be well served to stick and move letting Oscar tire himself out by the latter rounds. However, that is not Manny Pacquiao, as his tendency is to take the fight to his opponent head on. The danger of this is obvious and Pacquiao lacks the speed, elusiveness, and defense of a Floyd Mayweather, which is only to say that De La Hoya should be able to hit him if Manny engages Oscar.

Freddie Roach will have to seriously weigh the pros and cons of boxing vs. brawling in this fight. In some ways, it does not make sense to change a style that has been successful but styles make fights and this may be one of those times that a different strategy is necessary.

For De La Hoya the strategy is simple: jab then overpower him. This writer acknowledges not only incorrectly predicting the outcome of De La Hoya/Mayweather, but also Oscar’s strategy in that fight. Mayweather’s extraordinary skill level allowed him to mitigate the De La Hoya arsenal, with the exception of the jab in the early part of that fight. Since Pacquiao lacks Mayweather’s talents and is even smaller, the prospect of overpowering Manny should be considerably easier for De La Hoya. The De La Hoya jab is still a solid weapon and utilizing it early and often will soften Pacquiao up for the trademark left hook, which still has plenty on it to take out Pacquiao.

Hopefully, Pacquiao fights to win not just collect a huge payday and go the distance. Knowing this warrior, one is inclined to believe he will come out swinging, but this fight means little for his pound for pound status and future big fights Thus, it’s unclear how he’ll choose to fight Oscar. There are few certainties in boxing and like the elections anything can happen. It should be entertaining…so let the debate begin.

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