In just a few days, on December 6, the wait for De La Hoya and Pacquiao to meet in the reality of the ring (as opposed to a reality TV prequel of—paradoxically—occasional questionable authenticity) will be mercifully over, and boxing fans (or those whose interest was piqued by the prequel, and it would indeed be interesting to know how many were persuaded to watch the fight because of the HBO miniseries) will find out what this fight was.
Will it be a mismatch between a fierce, eager and yet predictably weaker and much smaller fighter whose ambition and perhaps greed took him one step too far? Or will it be an exciting and competitive fight between fighters with near perfect ring credentials?
Certainly, a lot has been written about De La Hoya's size advantage. After all, De La Hoya has been campaigning north of 150lbs for many years now, while Pacquiao had never been above 130lbs until this year. In fact, De la Hoya's weight in his professional debut back in 1992 (time flies!) was higher than Pacquiao's had ever been until June this year.
And of course De La Hoya also enjoys very considerable height and reach advantages. And if that weren't enough, De La Hoya—when focused on it-—has a jab that should be highlighted in instructional boxing videos, fast and powerful, able to keep the opponent at a distance by itself.
To top it off, De La Hoya also has the mid-distance power and accuracy to make smaller opponents trying to close the gap desist quickly, or face the definite possibility of sudden stoppage.
It has been a while since we have seen De La Hoya enjoy such a natural size advantage, but remember the Chavez fight and just how outgunned and mismatched the all-time-great (and at the time admittedly very faded) Chavez looked.
So does this mean that Pacquiao is just there for a payday? I do not think so. While I do indeed think that De La Hoya's size, reach and style pose a huge obstacle for Pacquiao, I think boxing has also often enough shown us that other extreme scenarios can suddenly materialize when someone as determined, fierce and skilled as Pacquiao is part of the equation in the ring.
Think about it: it is not inconceivable that De la Hoya has not taken the challenge ahead of him as seriously as he would have with a bigger opponent. And that he may have underestimated the strain that losing all that weight could place on his 35 year old body after a very long ring career.
It could be that after losing all that weight he finds himself without the strength advantage he was counting on, with diminished power, and also negatively impacted stamina. Which is a scary prospect when facing an opponent as relentless and determined as Pacquiao is. And I would contend that Pacquiao does possess underrated boxing skills he can fall back on.
So the fight between these boxing superstars is indeed intriguing. The big question is how much higher Pacquiao, who has seemed to enjoy such a big advantage at lower weights, can rise; and how much of De La Hoya's size and strength advantage could be impacted by fighting at this artificially low weight for him.
Let us not forget what happened to Roy Jones Jr when he came back down to the 175lbs division after briefly (and triumphantly) campaigning at heavyweight.
I admit that if you were to ask me for a prediction I would probably go with De La Hoya because his size advantage gives him more tactical options. Pacquiao's margin for error will be narrow and unforgiving. But Pacquiao is a brilliant fighter, and it is not impossible for him to put a perfect fight together.
So, even in the middle of this recession, I will be spending my cash on this PPV. Because I am genuinely curious about the scenario that might unfold when these two great fighters -who have never failed to entertain the crowd- finally fight this Saturday.
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