Originally presented at BoxingWatchers.com.
Manny "Pac Man" Pacquiao
Birthplace: Bukidnon, Philippines
Height: 5' 6.5"
Current Titles Held: WBC Lightweight (135 lbs.)
Former Titles Held: WBC Super Featherweight (130 lbs.), IBF Super Bantamweight (122 lbs.), WBC Flyweight (112 lbs.)
Professional Record: 47-3-2, 35 KOs
Record in World Title Fights: 8-1-2, 7 KOs
Record at 147 lbs.: First fight at this weight
Record in Fights Going 12 Rounds: 3-1-1
Notable Wins: TKO11 Marco Antonio Barrera I, KO3 Erik Morales III, SD12 Juan Manuel Marquez II
Notable Losses: UD12 Erik Morales I, KO3 Medgoen Singsurat
"The Golden Boy" Oscar De La Hoya
Birthplace: Montebello, CA
Height: 5' 10.5"
Current Titles Held: None
Former Titles Held: WBO super featherweight (130 lbs.), WBO, IBF lightweight (135 lbs.), WBC super lightweight (140 lbs.), WBC welterweight (147 lbs.), WBC, WBA junior middleweight (154 lbs.), WBO middleweight (160 lbs.)
Professional Record: 39-5, 30 KOs
Record in World Title Fights: 24-5, 17 KOs
Record at 147 lbs.: 10-2
Record in Fights Going 12 Rounds: 8-4
Notable Wins: UD12 Pernell Whitaker, TKO8 Julio Cesar Chavez, TKO11 Fernando Vargas
Notable Losses: MD12 Felix Trinidad, KO9 Bernard Hopkins, SD12 Floyd Mayweather, Jr.
This bout is fittingly billed as The Dream Match because, until earlier this year, there was no reason to think these two multi-divisional champions would ever be in the ring together.
But when Floyd Mayweather's unexpected retirement erased De La Hoya's lucrative rematch, this fight took its place as the biggest fight possible in the current boxing landscape.
Like Mayweather, Pacquiao is considered one of the best pound-for-pound boxers on the planet today. His dazzling combination of speed and power has helped him blast his way by opponents from 112 to 135 pounds, and his defense has made vast improvements under the tutelage of Freddie Roach.
De La Hoya is also a former titleholder at 130 and 135 pounds, but that's where the similarities end. He's been fighting some of the best in the world at welterweight and above since before this decade started, raising the very legitimate question of whether he'll simply be too big for Pacquiao.
With the Golden Boy enjoying large advantages in height, reach, and pure bulk, his patented left hook looms as a larger threat that it has in most of his last half-dozen fights. He figures to be facing a significant disadvantage in pure hand speed, so he'll be relying on his unquestioned boxing skills and the wisdom gained in dozens of previous world title fights.
Facing his biggest challenge both figuratively and literally, Pacquiao says he feels fast and strong despite bulking up to fight two weight classes higher than he's ever fought before. If his quickness rules the day or his power translates to 147, he'll stand a very real chance of coming out on top and adding another entry to an already impressive resume.
Pacquiao's Winning Strategy: Speed Kills
Some of Manny's supporters seem to think he'll be so blindingly fast that Oscar won't be able to lay a glove on him. That seems unlikely, though, as his style has always been more seek-and-destroy than stick-and-move.
Regardless, Pacquiao's speed is still his primary weapon and his biggest key to victory. He'll have to be busy enough on the outside to neutralize De La Hoya's jab and let his hands go once he gets inside.
Since he's used to scoring knockouts, he'll also have to face up to the fact that his foe has been hit by much bigger men and may be able to take his best shots. That means the quantity, and not quality, of punches landed will likely punch Manny's winning ticket.
And since speed applies to more than just hands, Pacquiao will be in good shape if he uses his legs as well. He's not going to jump in and out, but he can use good movement around the ring to his benefit against the older De La Hoya.
De La Hoya's Winning Strategy: Size Matters
With the exception of an overmatched Ricardo Mayorga, De La Hoya hasn't been a serious knockout artist for at least five years. That won't be the case against Pacquiao, as Oscar's relative size and power have to be respected.
The Golden Boy may find that he's taking two punches to set up one, but it's what he does with that one that matters. De La Hoya will look to jab while Pacquiao is coming in and use hooks to the head and body once he gets there.
Anyone who thinks Pacquiao will prove too difficult to track down need only think back to De La Hoya's close loss to Mayweather, who possesses similar offensive gifts but has many more subtle defensive moves. There will be occasions where Manny is there to be hit, and Oscar will need to make him pay.
To make this strategy most effective, ring generalship will also be important. That shouldn't be a problem for De La Hoya, who's been facing top-notch competition for more than a decade and knows more than a little bit about cutting off the ring.