Tale of the Tape: Oscar De La Hoya vs Manny Pacquiao

Carl RiceContributor IDecember 4, 2008

This Saturday, Oscar De La Hoya will participate in yet another Superfight with yet another Pound for Pound top fighter, this time taking on Filipino sensation Manny Pacquiao.  The last time we saw De La Hoya, he beat another smaller man in tough Stevie Forbes after losing a decision to the now retired Floyd Mayweather, another Pound for Pound best. 

Pacquiao looking to continue his fantastic 2008, defeating Juan Manuel Marquez and most recently stopping WBC Champion David Diaz.  In De La Hoya’s fight with Mayweather, Floyd was the favorite but this time around, De La Hoya is about a 2-1 favorite and, as it will be pointed out, for good reason. 




De La Hoya, fighting out of East Los Angeles, California, is 39-5 (30 KOs) in his boxing career.  The 5’10, five division champion has fought from lightweight to middleweight, taking on all comers along the way.  The “Golden Boy” is by far the most marketable fighter of his generation, has earned hundreds of millions of dollars, has several business ventures, including his promotional outfit, Golden Boy Productions, and is also the owner of The Ring magazine.

Using his 73 inch reach, De La Hoya has one of the best jabs in boxing and when he uses it to set up his vaulted left hook.  All of his losses have come to hall of fame fighters.


Unlike De La Hoya, who was primed from the beginning to be a boxing star, Pacquiao, fighting out of Manila, Philippines, stormed onto the scene almost by accident.  Ironically, the small but compact 5’6 ½ “ slugger with a 67 inch reach was a last minute replacement on the undercard for De La Hoya vs Javier Castillejo, fighting IBF Super Bantamweight Champion Lehlohonolo Ledwaba, but after six bloody rounds, Pacquiao had won by KO and had become a part of the boxing consciousness.

Since then the former flyweight has taken on anyone and everyone in his way steamrolling most opponents and along the way, obtained rock star status in his native Philippines.




De La Hoya got his stardom early in his career, winning an Olympic gold medal in 1992 and began his career as a junior lightweight.  He tore through all of his competition at lightweight, winning 15 of his first 16 by KO.  After winning two titles in as many weight classes, he would meet his first hall of famer in Pernell “Sweet Pea” Whittaker in 1997, who was also a top Pound for Pound fighter, for the welterweight title. 

Although many saw this as a close fight or either a win for Whittaker, the judges awarded De La Hoya the win, allowing him to chalk up the biggest victory of his career to this point.


After fighting other big name fighters such as Hector Camacho and the legendary but faded Julio Cesar Chavez, he would then take on another welterweight champion in Ike Quartey in early 1999, in what is probably his greatest fight.  Both champions were down in the fight, but De La Hoya dug deep, knocking Quartey down in the 12th round and pulling out the victory. 

After a mandatory fight against Oba Carr, he would then go on to take on Felix “Tito” Trinidad later that year, a fight in which he would make the greatest mistake of his career.  Both fighters were undefeated to this point, and De La Hoya was easily outboxing Trinidad, but in the last four rounds, instead of engaging, he decided to backpedal and didn’t throw punches. 

Trinidad was able to pull out the victory by winning the last four rounds of the fight, giving De La Hoya his first loss.  Not one to sit around, De La Hoya would take a tune up fight before taking on former lightweight champion “Sugar” Shane Mosley the next year. 

This was a very entertaining and competitive fight but Mosley won a close split decision and after losing to Trinidadand being outworked by Mosley in the later rounds, De La Hoya gained a reputation for fading in the later rounds. 


De La Hoya decided to move up in weight taking on Castillejo and unifying the titles with Fernando Vargas in 2002, who had been calling for a De La Hoya fight for years.  Although he was the smaller man, his power came through as he would go on to stop Vargas in 11 rounds. 

He would fight Mosley again and lost the rematch; seeking bigger and better things in 2004, he then moved up to middleweight and took on another top Pound for Pound Champion in Bernard Hopkins.  De La Hoya was overmatched from the beginning and was eventually KOed by a body shot in the ninth round.

Looking to restore some of his lost luster after taking all of 2005 off, he would move back down to light middle, KOing Mayorga in the process, and enticed Mayweather to move out of his comfort zone and move up to his weight in 2007.  Although De La Hoya was the favorite, Mayweather would score the upset. 

A rematch was set up after Mayweather KOed Ricky Hatton at welterweight, but Mayweather suddenly decided to retire, leaving De La Hoya with no Superfight after taking on Stevie Forbes and Pacquiao stepped into the fold.


Pacquiao began his pro boxing career in 1995 at 107 pounds.  He had fought primarily at flyweight and bantamweight in the Philippines, losing two fights by KO in the third round, until he gained notoriety by stopping Ledwaba in 2001, but after this fight he was a hot commodity.  HBO saw his potential and would feature him in most of his future fights, winning most by KO. 

He would move up to 126 pounds, where top Mexican fighters like Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, and Juan Manuel Marquez resided, and this series of fights is where Manny would become one of the top Pound for Pound fighters in the world. 


He would first take on Barrera in 2003, who had not lost a fight in several years and to the amazement of everyone, stopped Barrera in the 10th round.  In his very next fight he would fight Marquez, who went to the canvas three times in the first round.  However, it is a tremendous testimate to Marquez that he not only would continue to fight, but won enough rounds to score a draw. 

In 2005 he would then take on Morales, who was the last man to defeat Barrera and would lose by decision.  After a tune up fight, the two would fight again the next year when Pacquiao would even the score with a 10th round KO and then won the rubber match by third round KO. 

After getting the 2007 decision against Barrera in the rematch, he would finally finish the trifecta and rematch Marquez and would win a split decision earlier this year.


Having beaten the top fighters at 126 and 130, Pacquiao was running out of foes to fight at this weight,  He had moved up behind Mayweather as the second best fighter in the world and following in the steps of Mayweather, he decided to move up in weight.  He would take on Chicago’s David Diaz for one of the lightweight titles and although he was favored in the fight, no one predicted the way he destroyed Diaz en route to a brutal stoppage. 

After Mayweather retired, he was proclaimed the best fighter in the world and when Mayweather retired, effectively turning down the fight with De La Hoya, Pacquiao was offered the fight, which he took with no hesitation.  Many predicted this fight would never happen because of money and disparity in weight, but both of these men have shown that they will not back away from a tough opponent.




Simply put, this fight will end in a KO.  The only way that Pacquiao is going to win is by KO.  He is not going to outbox De La Hoya and in order to get to De La Hoya he’s going to have to force his way inside, which, unless age finally catches up to him, is going to be very difficult.  De La Hoya, being the bigger man, will impose his will while using his jab to circle Pacquiao and use his aggressiveness against him to set up his left hook. 

De La Hoya has nearly every advantage in this fight: strength, height, reach, and power.  The only thing that Pacquiao has in his favor is that he’s younger and that he may be faster, but De La Hoya will be by far the strongest fighter he’s ever faced. 

De La Hoya, on the other hand has faced faster fighters in Mayweather, stronger fighters in Hopkins, harder punchers in Trinidad, more active fighters in Mosley, and better boxers in Whittaker.  But Pacquiao is not without some advantages himself. 


De La Hoya has had problems in the past with left handed fighters, and although he hasn’t lost to a southpaw, none have been as strong and aggressive as Pacquiao.  The trainers of both fighters have knowledge of the man in the other corner; Freddy Roach trained De La Hoya in his fight with Mayweather and probably knows some inside scoop on him. 

Nacho Bernstein, who trains Juan Manuel Marquez and knows Pacquiao’s tendencies, is De La Hoya’s trainer so both men have inside knowledge of the other fighter And it must be mentioned that Pacquiao is probably the most tenacious, active fighters De La Hoya has ever faced.


But this could also be Pacquiao’s downfall; as previously stated, De La Hoya has a reputation as a boxer but he’s really a puncher who can box.  Anytime a straight forward fighter like Ricardo Mayorga, Yori Boy Campos, or Arturo Gatti has fought De La Hoya, he’s won practically all of them by KO. 

This is not to say that Pacquiao is comparable to any of those fighters, just that all of them are come forward type boxers.  Pacquiao can box, but that’s not his forte…coming forward and letting go with the straight left hand is with ferocious intent is, and being the shorter fighter with the shorter reach, that’s not going to be easy. 


And enough cannot be said about Pacquiao coming up in weight.  Some will say that Mosley came up in weight and only had one fight at welterweight before beating De La Hoya, which is true.  But Mosley is a better boxer than Pacquiao, has a longer reach than De La Hoya, was undefeated, fought most of his career at lightweight, and might actually be stronger than De La Hoya.

Pacquiao has fought 40 of his 47 fights at less than 130 pounds and only one fight at 135.  Jumping up to 147 pounds is a massive mountain to climb against a fighter who hasn’t fought under 147 since 1997. 

Compounding that is the fact that De La Hoya is actually coming down in weight, meaning that he’s going to be in great shape in order to make weight, unless making weight was such a strain that it leaves him weakened, but this doesn’t appear to be the case.




De La Hoya has one of the best, stiffest jabs in boxing and will put it to use against the charging Pacquiao.  Pacquiao’s tenacity will get him inside to land some of his hard punches, but De La Hoya will take them well because he’s been in with bigger fighters and in moving down in weight, his strength with be even more apparent. 

De La Hoya will hurt Pacquiao early while he’s coming in, making Pacquiao think twice about coming in, while at the same time finding out that moving up in weight is not easy with a guy who’s been at that weight or higher for most of his career.  In the middle rounds (maybe earlier), De La Hoya will hurt and stagger Pacquiao, allowing him to launch into one of his more classic attacks.

If Pacquiao can withstand this, he may be able to survive that round, but it won’t matter because once De La Hoya realizes that he can seriously hurt this man and can take his punches, he’ll go on the attack and stop Pacquiao in the next round. De La Hoya KO Pacquiao 7.


This is not to take anything away from Pacquiao; he deserves a lot of credit for moving up in weight to take on the biggest fight of his career to this point.  But having only 1 fight at lightweight is not good preparation for moving up two full weight classes to take on a skilled fighter such as De La Hoya. 

Pacquiao may lose his standing as the best Pound for Pound fighter in the world, he will not lose his stature.  De La Hoya, even though he will have defeated a top fighter in his prime (for once) will get too much credit for this win and will be seen as a top Pound for Pound fighter for the first time in a long time and although this would be the perfect way for him to end his career, he’ll probably fight at least once more.

One can only hope it’s someone in his same weight class the next time around.


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