For The Love of Money: De La Hoya Vs. Pacquiao
It will sell out the MGM Grand arena in Las Vegas. It will be watched by millions of boxing fans around the world and generate an incredible amount of money. It will cement Oscar de la Hoya's reputation as equal part marketing genius and equal part boxing legend.
It will be a messy, sluggish flop of a fight.
On August 29, 2008, after weeks of speculation, the Oscar de la Hoya - Manny Pacquiao bout has finally been set in stone. Pacquiao will bulk up to fight de la Hoya at 147 pounds, twelve more than his last match. The Phillipine champion released a statement in regards to the announcement, saying: "This will be the toughest test in my boxing career because of the reach and height advantage of my esteemed opponent [...]"
I agree with Manny, though we're on the same page on the issue of why this will be his toughest test as a boxer. He seems to think Oscar's taller frame and longer arms will create problems for him. While these are valid reasons for Pacquiao to take caution, I think his biggest problem will be deciding what to do with the speculated $35 million he's taking from the total $100 million purse.
Is this really necessary?
In a sport already historically dominated by allegations of corruption and greed, there is no real reason (no reason having to do with boxing, anyway) why Pacquiao should fight de la Hoya.
Oscar, in the midst of his never-ending farewell tour, has recruited Pacquiao just months after losing to Floyd Mayweather, Jr. in an absolute snooze fest. In coaxing the Filipino to fight him, The Golden Boy has set himself up for the best possible scenario: beating up on a chunky, slow Pacquiao and endearing himself to millions of Mexican boxing fans at the same time by slaying the so-called "Mexican killer", before deciding to wrap up his career in one of the largest arenas in the world (and thus earning yet another pretty penny): The Estadio Azteca.
Despite my frothing desire to see anyone match Pacquiao punch for punch in the ring, this is not the way to do it. If he wants to cede almost every advantage at his disposal by moving up dramatically in weight, Manny should fight Wladimir Klitschko for all intents and purposes.
During the 1990's would any self-respecting Chicago Bull hater have enjoyed a win as much if Michael Jordan played 48 minutes with a hand tied behind his back?
Fighters spend years finding their appropriate weight division in order to have the most success. When they do, they spend more years climbing the ranks, honing their skills and adapting their styles to their weights. Are you honestly trying to tell me that Manny Pacquiao is going to magically acquire all of these hard earned traits in just a few months?
This is not to say Manny is purposely throwing the fight. When most every major publication annoints you the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world, you're going to have some degree of confidence going into most any match. However, with several million-dollar purses in his past career, does he really need the money that much?
Aside from the obvious sacrifice in weight, (and subsequently, speed) Pacquiao is giving up something far greater: credibility and respect. Don't take it from me, Manny - ask the guy you're facing in December! A decade ago, Oscar de la Hoya beat up on Julio César Chávez in the twilight of his career.
It garnered him scorn from fans and the press for seemingly taking advantage of Chávez. Now, Pacquiao is doing the same and putting himself in an undesirable position from a sporting standpoint: lose, and be chided for giving up your advantages in order to make a quick buck; win, and be blasted for beating up on the old champ in the final hours of his career.
Credibility, respect and honor. Just a few things you can't buy, even with $35 million.
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