Can Pac-Man Stop The Golden Boy?

Bill CodyCorrespondent IIIDecember 2, 2008

There is an old adage in boxing that a good big man will always beat a good little man. Which means Oscar De La Hoya should have an easy time of it this Saturday when he climbs into the ring with Filipino sensation Manny Pacquiao. So why are so many boxing fans and even a few boxing experts giving Manny Pacquiao a shot in his upcoming fight with Oscar De La Hoya?

Is it wishful thinking by fans that would like to see a Pacquiao/Mayweather mega fight in the near future? Or maybe its boxing fans that would like to see De La Hoya retire before his skills diminish any further.

These fans point to Pac-Man’s recent demolition of David Diaz and Oscar’s less than scintillating showing against Stevie Forbes as a reason for their belief that Manny will not just beat Oscar but that he will most likely knock him out.

But are those fights true indications of what will happen when the two men step into the ring this weekend? I don’t think so and here’s why. Even when Oscar was in his prime he often struggled against lesser opponents so people shouldn’t have been surprised about his lackluster showing against Forbes.

And while Pacquiao’s total destruction of David Diaz surprised some because he was moving up in weight, anyone who saw the vast difference in hand speed starting in the first round, should not have been surprised by what happened after that. Any good boxing fan knows that power may a give a fighter a puncher’s chance, but it’s speed that truly kills.

The conventional wisdom is that Pacquiao will be faster than Oscar in this fight, but De La Hoya has always had fast hands as well.  Let’s face it, Mayweather didn’t beat Oscar will superior hand speed, he beat him with superior defense and movement. De La Hoya got gassed chasing Floyd, Jr. around the ring.

That won’t happen against Pacquiao because Manny will press the fight and come right at Oscar. And with Pacquiao coming up in weight it is quite possible he won’t be quite as quick as he was at 135.

SO obviously I am picking Oscar to win the fight. Right? Actually I am one of the people who believe that Manny not only has a shot at winning, I think he will take this fight rather easily.

In the name of full disclosure I will admit that I have spent more than a few hours at the Wild Card Gym in Hollywood. I have seen some of Manny’s training for the upcoming fight and I must say he has been very, very impressive. He has been training at around 150 pounds and his hand speed appears to be as good as ever.

And while Manny’s never been a one-punch knockout artist, from what I have seen he still has good power. And his defense gets better and better all the time.

But the main reason I am picking Manny for this fight is much more intangible. His heart. I think his will to win will pull him through this fight. A lot of people who watched the second Marquez fight thought that Manny’s worst round was the eighth when blood from a cut allowed Marquez to open up on him repeatedly.

I think that was the round when Manny won the fight. A lesser fighter would have wilted under Marquez’s pressure, but Pacquiao fought through the adversity and kept coming back.  Its tough rounds like that, against the best of the best that separate the great ones from other top fighters.

I have always admired De La Hoya’s willingness to fight every fighter put in his path; but I haven’t seen that kind of determination from him in a number of years. Pacquiao by decision.