Manny Pacquiao vs. Oscar De La Hoya: How Much Do Weight Classes Matter?

Jeremy KaufmanSenior Analyst IAugust 11, 2008

A recent Bleacher Report article addressed several problems that surrounded a potential fight between Manny Pacquiao and either Oscar De La Hoya or the partially retired Floyd Mayweather.

The primary issue that was addressed in this article was the natural weight discrepancy that exists between Pac and his two potential opponents—a differential that is estimated to be 16 pounds.

Initially upon considering this dilemma, I found myself in agreement with the author. I mean, one problem that I have always had with professional boxing is its tendency to hold money-making opportunities as a higher priority than the safety of its athletes.

I am a strong proponent of safety in boxing as a top priority, and therefore I would naturally be inclined to oppose a match that would pit a naturally larger fighter against a smaller one. Or would I?

Upon further consideration, I began to wonder if a 16 pound weight differential between two fighters really makes a fight dangerous? There is no question that the extra weight would provide a fighter with a significant advantage. However, it still would be fair to say that the better overall fighter would win the fight, regardless of weight.

Consider this. Many of us have likely been in a fight at some point in our lives. It may have taken place after school, in a parking lot, or at a bar. In these fights, it is very unlikely that you and your opponent were of equal size.

In fact, the majority of conflicts that I have ever been involved in or witnessed involved individuals who differed greatly in size. However, I have learned that such a differential in size certainly does not decide the outcome of a fight.

Now, it is vital for me to note that I am in no way, shape, or form comparing the common street fight to the “sweet science” that is boxing. However, I do believe that my aforementioned observation lends significant evidence in support of my hypothesis that a professional boxing match can take place with a significant weight differential between opponents and still be a fair fight.

Okay, so let us take my hypothesis and apply it to the potential bout between Pac and De La Hoya. What advantages would the fighters have?

Well, De La Hoya, for one, would likely possess more natural strength than Pac as a result of the 16 or so extra pounds. In addition, he would likely be able to take more shots to the body than Pac could.

Those are some significant advantages. However, what about Pac?

As a significantly lighter fighter, it would be safe to say that Pac’s speed, agility, and quickness would all exceed that of De La Hoya's. This would apply not only to Pac’s body movement, but also his hand speed, which is absolutely vital in the realm of boxing.

Furthermore, Pac’s conditioning would likely exceed that of De La Hoya's, especially when considering that De La Hoya is reaching the latter end of his career in boxing. With superior conditioning, Pac could attempt to control the fight from the outside by utilizing his quick jab, thereby wearing De La Hoya out and making him vulnerable in the later rounds of the bout.

So, with all of the aforementioned analysis in mind, who would you bet on in an open- weight bout between De La Hoya and Manny Pacquiao? Honestly, I really have no idea who would win. But hey, isn’t that what makes a great fight?

Hmm...Maybe these weight classes are a little overrated after all.