Oscar de la Hoya vs Manny Pacquiao: Megafight or Mismatch?

Pleas Lucian KavanaughContributor IDecember 4, 2008

It is possible that the December 6th bout between Manny Pacquiao and Oscar de la Hoya will be an evenly-matched, world-class competition.  If so, then the night could feature a classic caliber matchup of brawler versus boxer with Pacquiao’s relentlessly aggressive style, marked by blazing hand speed and frenetic pacing, against the quintessential jabber with a devastating left hook in de la Hoya. 

In this scenario, the effectiveness of Oscar’s jab will be the telling detail of the fight.  With de la Hoya standing just under 5’11’’ with a 73’’ reach dwarfing Pacquiao at 5’6’’ with a 67’’ wingspan, the logistics are simple.  If the Filipino legend should be unable to get within the jab and effectively close the distance, then his cause is lost.  If he can manage that uncommon task, then he will have given himself the younger, busier man’s chance.

An alternate analysis, one touted by experts and laymen alike, is that the deciding factor of this fight will not be style or skill or conditioning or even the mettle which often decides our most beloved and timeless displays of pugilism.

To those in the know, the detail which will most likely influence the outcome of this competition is much more fundamental and commonplace than any of those.  The consensus here is that Oscar de la Hoya will defeat Manny Pacquiao because he is a much larger man.

A rail thin de la Hoya began his professional career at the junior lightweight limit of 130lbs while Pacquiao began his professional campaign as a 106lb strawweight.  As recently as 2008, while The Golden Boy was negotiating a catch-weight to engage former pound-for-pound king, Floyd Mayweather Jr., Pacquiao was coming up to super lightweight to pummel an outclassed David Diaz. 

Pundits contend that de la Hoya’s power and ability to absorb the smaller man’s punches will be factors too great for the Filipino legend to overcome.  For evidence, one only need look to history.

A contemporary example might be the case of Shane Mosley, who like Pacquiao was regarded as a formidable, if not concussive, puncher in his prime and utilized rapid combination punching to blister his opponents into submission.  Despite a stellar knockout ratio beneath the welterweight division, Mosley’s power had clearly begun to wane, relative to the competition, just beyond his welterweight campaign. 

Even the great Roberto Duran, arguably the greatest lightweight of all time, possessed of supreme power at that weight, found his ability to concuss his opponents diminished as he rose repeatedly in weight to fight bigger men.  Other examples include J.C. Chavez, Felix Trinidad, and Roy Jones Junior; all of whom experienced a significant decline in their knockout ratios as they climbed in weight. 

History then, suggests a limit to how much a fighter can rise above the natural limitations of his frame and maintain his relative punching power.  Duran’s limit came well within the 30 pounds between lightweight and middleweight.   Prudence expects that Manny Pacquiao’s limit resides somewhere within the 31 pounds between strawweight and welterweight.

The opening rounds are interesting with a fresh Pacquiao on the offensive.  He scores well out of the gate, but finds his firepower less commanding at 10½ stone.  With no recourse but to press, he becomes susceptible to incoming from his harder hitting opponent.  Unless Oscar de la Hoya ages overnight, his infamous jab will set up a surprisingly capable right hand. 

A determined Pacquiao rallies until the left hook wears down his undersized frame forcing the referee to intervene by the middle to late rounds.

Oscar de la Hoya by stoppage in eight.