Let me go on record as saying that this fight is an embarrassment for Oscar De La Hoya. But, what at first appeared to be a mismatch by most pundits could potentially end up as a surprise or a disaster for both fighters.
Many questions should be answered during and after the fight. Most important is: Why is Oscar still fighting? For the money, pride and legacy, or lunacy—most fighters don’t know when to call it quits? Why has he settled on fighting yet another smaller opponent—he is four inches taller and at fight time will be 20 pounds heavier?
What about Manny? Is he too small—10 years ago Manny was a 106 pound fighter? Will jumping up nearly two weight classes diminish his stamina and punching power? Has he been in too many wars? Will his “Asian” do or die way of approaching a fight do him in or do him justice?
My sense is that Oscar talks serious in front of the cameras—after all, he is of rock star quality and and should be putting his celebrity to better us. But is he really serious about fighting the type of fight he needs to in order to fight a fighter who has serious intentions about fighting, and perhaps is more serious about winning.
And, Manny is the Ring Magazine’s pound-for-pound best fighter in the world. Oscar lost to a fighter with this credentials two fights ago.
Oscar is on his third trainer in as many fights. Boxing wisdom dictates that you can’t change a fighter’s boxing style although one might be able to introduce certain perspectives that can be employed. But when the going gets tough, boxers always, without question, resort to that which they know best. That’s the point here—Oscar has had a tendency to not listen to new trainers, and ultimately, abandons his game plan.
Although De La Hoya has the firepower, this pundit questions his will power. He’s neglected what made him a champion—fighting on his toes, jab, jab, and left hook. If he fights Pacquiao as he has his last few fights then he certainly will be on the receiving end of multiple punches and in for a long evening.
Additionally, Oscar has not looked good in his last several fights. He has gotten hit a lot and easily. In his last 11 fights—with a year of inactivity—he sports a 6 - 5 record with five KOs (and was KO’d by Hopkins and his victory over Strum was a gift).
Other than Trinidad, Mosely, Hopkins, and Mayweather, his other opponents—including Vargas—were safe and marginal at best. His fight against little Stevie Forbes he got hit more than perhaps he should have and one could surmise that in that fight, Oscar began to look old and tired as the rounds progressed.
That said, Oscar has always had conditioning problems and staying power especially the longer his fights go on. He always seems to fade around round nine. Will this ultimately lead to his defeat against the Pacquiao war machine?
Manny has been through several wars throughout his career—most notably Marcos Antonio Barrera. Can he handle Oscar’s power? Can he handle Oscar’s height, reach and natural weight advantage? How much will he be willing to get hit in order to hit? Can he slip Oscar’s jab, avoid his left hook and do damage to a body that does not like to get hit. Does Freddy Roach really have the game plan to beat Oscar?
These are all legitimate questions that will be answered after the last round is fought.
My prediction—a boring fight at best—if De La Hoya doesn't knock Pacquiao out within five rounds, he is not worthy of his pay and will put his legacy in question.