De La Hoya-Pacquiao

Tonight at the MGM Grand, Oscar De La Hoya will fight Manny Pacquiao in one of the year’s most anticipated fights. Ring Magazine’s writeup is here. I asked my son to preview the bout:

If Oscar De La Hoya is looking for one last big win to close his career, this very well could be it. Manny “Pacman” Pacquiao, who is much more accustomed to fighting at 126 or 130 pounds, will be moving up to 147 pounds to fight De La Hoya. Pacquiao was able to win his first fight at 135 pounds against a game David Diaz, but it is unlikely that he will be nearly as effective at 147. De La Hoya, although past his prime, should be able to use his 4 inches in height and 6 or so inches in reach to outbox the smaller Pacquiao. Despite what seem to be major disadvantages for Pacman, the line on this fight is just 2-1 in favor of Oscar De La Hoya. De La Hoya is still the undisputed biggest draw in boxing, and this fight will be the most watched fight of 2008. Both fighters will make a big purse for this fight, and De La Hoya stands to make as much as 50 million, depending on Pay-Per-View sales.

Prediction: De La Hoya should win this fight by late TKO or unanimous decision.

Viewers who tune into HBO PPV tonight should see an action packed fight that will garner as much media attention as any boxing match this year.

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This is not the kind of matchup I like. Pacquiao is rated by Ring Magazine as the best boxer in the world, and De La Hoya, in my opinion, should have retired a couple of years ago. So on paper, the contest comes down to whether Oscar–whatever is left of him–is just too big for Pacquiao.

Still, the fight could turn out to be better than that. Pacquiao is in his prime and is probably the most relentless fighter on the planet. I think the betting odds understate his chances. Meanwhile, De La Hoya claims to be sharper than he has been in a long time now that he has dropped down a weight class or two for this bout. De La Hoya has been fighting mostly for pride for a while now, to prove he’s a tough Hispanic boxer and not just the “Golden Boy.” If Pacquiao comes on as strong as I think he will, and Oscar is in the kind of condition he claims to be, there is an outside chance the bout could turn out to be a classic.

You can watch it on HBO PPV.

POST MORTEM: It was all Pacquiao, who put on one of the most impressive displays I’ve seen in a long time. Pacquiao’s hand and foot speed were far too much for De La Hoya, as Pacquiao was consistently able to dart in, nail De La Hoya seemingly at will, and retreat before De La Hoya could catch up with him. And it was Pacquiao, not the taller (but hardly any heavier, surprisingly) De La Hoya, whose punches were more damaging. Pacquiao’s smart, disciplined performance was a masterpiece of controlled fury.

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Pacquiao won every round, and the HBO team gave him one by two points even though De La Hoya never quite went down. De La Hoya’s corner threw in the towel after the eighth, as their fighter was taking serious punishment and it was clear that he had no chance to catch up with Pacquiao, or hurt him if he did.

A match with Ricky Hatton seems like a natural for Pacquiao, but off last night’s performance it’s hard to see anyone giving Pacquiao much trouble at 140 pounds on down. De La Hoya was gracious in defeat, a role that has become too familiar to him in recent years. He should retire.

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