Montoya's Boxing Prediction for Oscar De La Hoya vs Manny Pacquiao
By Gabriel Montoya, (Dec 5, 2008) Photo © Laura De La Torre  
After having spending some time in Manny Pacquiao's camp and virtually none in Oscar's, it would be easy for me to simply pick the man who I have watched impressively train for weeks over the man who hasn't won a major fight since he knocked Fernando Vargas in 2001. But this is a styles makes fights affair if ever there was one.

For this bout, De la Hoya has chosen heralded boxing guru Nacho Beristain. According to De La Hoya, Beristain has gotten De La Hoya to not be as tight of muscle as before, relaxing into his punches,
turning his shoulders and thereby extending his range . The relaxation will perhaps De La Hoya energy down the stretch IF the new techniques stick once the fight heats up. Oscar looks to live behind his jab, stay patient, and not worry about a firefight. This style should yield him a decision. Look for a lot of right hands to set up his vaunted hook as well one of Beristain's favorite punches, the uppercut. Pacquiao has a tendency to reach in. With his height disadvantage coupled with Oscar's jab (He plans to throw it even when not in full range to look busy), the Filipino icon may get over anxious and that might set up a weapon that De La Hoya isn't known for but displayed a bit during a media session.

For Pacquiao to win, he must slip that jab, get inside and get to Oscar's body early. From what I observed during one of his last sparring sessions, he has a tendency with bigger opponents who use the jab to either be defending or attacking in bursts. There appeared to difficulty blending the two because of the reach disadvantage. Pacquiao must dictate a torrid pace (something I didn't feel he did not do in that session but was evident in others) to tire the older, less active De La Hoya. Teh first four rounds will be huge for Pacquiao. Should he fall behind or live at Oscar's pace, the fight might get dangerous for Pacquiao late.

So who wins? This is, despite what anyone says, A 50-50 fight. like Pacquiao's stability in his camp, willingness to engage at all costs, conditioning, speed, strength ( He will be the stronger guy tomorrow night) vs. Oscar's speed, aging legs, vaunted left hook, ring savvy, home court advantage, and the fact that while Pacquiao has fought four times this year, De La Hoya hasn't fought that often in four years.

I see a very close fight, some blood on either side, a knockdown of Pacquiao and a split decision for Oscar De La Hoya that many will call a robbery. Most of all, I see a very, very good fight.

Gabriel at: .

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