Why Oscar De La Hoya vs. Manny Pacquiao Would Be Bad for Boxing

Nicholas SowemimoCorrespondent IAugust 9, 2008

Everyone knows the essential components of a superfight. Big fighters, big followings, a big venue, and a huge purse. Following the recent slew of high-profile matchups that have rejuvenated boxing, the money men are already in the process of arranging what they hope will be the sport's next global supershow.

The Golden Boy vs. Pacman. De La Hoya vs Pacquiao. Cause to be excited, yes?

Richard Schaefer, the CEO of Golden Boy Promotions told ESPN.com that he and Bob Arum, President of Top Rank, had recently had a "two-hour-plus meeting" to discuss the possibility of a bout between their two star fighters.

Schaefer and Arum were both eager to express the positive nature of the meeting, which was described as "cordial" and "very productive," respectively, by the two promoters. The date and venue touted for a potential fight is Dec. 6 at Las Vegas' MGM Grand, but other details—most importantly, the weight—are yet to be finalised.

The proposed battle is an attractive one for a plethora of reasons.

De La Hoya is a legend of the modern game, and Pacquiao—the current pound-for-pound champion—is well on his way to reaching the same status.

Recent bouts such as Mayweather vs. De La Hoya, Mayweather vs. Hatton, and Cotto vs. Margarito have generated millions of pay-per-view buys, millions of column inches, and much needed revenue and the publicity for a sport that was speculated to go into a steady decline.

A supposed shortage of new marketable talent, combined with the rise of the mixed-martial art world, and spearheaded by the behemoth that is Dana White's Ultimate Fighting Championship, was a cause for worry about the future profitability of the sweet science.

However, those aforementioned reasons breathed new life into boxing, and so promoters are endlessly searching for the next big payday.

A fight between De La Hoya, with his army of loyal fans in both the U.S. and Mexico, and Pacquiao, the world's best boxer, also with a great following from the populous Philippines and the large worldwide Filipino diaspora, could not fail to generate revenue and huge interest.

Despite the obvious financial benefits, perhaps the most pertinent question to ask about the proposed fight is: Is it ethical?

One man who certainly does not think so is WBC President, Jose Sulaiman, who has already expressed forthright and outraged views on the prospect of De La Hoya vs. Pacquiao.

Condemning the proposal as "ridiculous," "absurd," and "a fraud to the public," Sulaiman focused on the weight difference between the two men by asking if the promoters planned to "stuff Manny with tamales plus beans, and reduce Oscar in the steam bath" in order to make a fight viable.

Sulaiman went on to point out that "Pacquiao has only recently won the lightweight title. It's been 13 years since De La Hoya last made that weight, and in those 13 years, he has gone up four weight divisions."

Sulaiman is a man whose presidency of the WBC, and outspoken nature, has made him an unpopular figure with many fight fans. However, in his typically incendiary manner, he brings up some important points.

Pacquiao is a much smaller man than De La Hoya. At the time of their last weigh-ins, the difference between the two was 16 pounds. Were the two to fight tomorrow, the tale of the tape would show Pacquiao giving away 4" in height and of more concern, 5" in reach to De La Hoya.

As attractive as the prospect of seeing these two greats go at it may be, these are not solid statistics on which to build a good fight.

Fights fans wish to see the best boxers take on each other, and it is excusable for them to overlook such matters as unimportant in the face of such exciting fare.

However, there is no such excuse for knowledgeable promoters, coaches, and others who know the dangers of ignoring these factors. As great of a fighter as Pacquiao is, the Filipino would be taking a serious risk in taking on bigger men such as De La Hoya or the previously suggested Ricky Hatton.

Though gambling is at the very heart of the sport, proposed fights such as these again raise the question of when a risk to a boxer's health becomes too unacceptable to take.

Perhaps of all the criticisms made by Jose Sulaiman, the most striking is his assertion that, "It is time that some people in boxing stop thinking about names and money."

When someone who has a reputation—deserved or not—for being as notoriously rapacious as Sulaiman accuses the boxing world's big-time operators of greed, then maybe there is a problem to address.

The search for money-making superfights has, in the last few years, produced many excellent bouts between the biggest names in fighting—a welcome change for boxing fans fed up of years of alphabet title corruption and cowardly ducking of big rivals.

However, we must not allow our appetite for fights of the ages to ride roughshod over common sense and ethics.

Difficult as it may be for his detractors, we should heed the words of Jose Sulaiman.

Two men the size of Manny and Oscar shouldn't fight, no matter how many PPV buys it would garner. To those still in need of persuasion, it is being reported that most of the details of the fight have already been agreed. Venue? No problem. Weight gap? Not an issue. Only thing still being bickered about...money.

And therein lies the problem.