De La Hoya V Pacquiao: How My Pick Was Wrong but Still Right

Carl RiceContributor IDecember 6, 2008

In my spare bedroom is a Philippines flag hanging on the wall. I got it at the first Erik Morales/Manny Pacquiao fight and feverishly waved that flag during the fight, which was Pacquiao’s last loss. 


On the other hand, I’ve long looked at Oscar De La Hoya as the Sugar Ray Leonard of this era of boxing but not the reasons many think. Both were the most profitable fighter of their time and both cherry picked fights that were suited to their advantages and not giving rematches to fighters that gave them a tough time unless they lost. 


But unlike Leonard, De La Hoya did not win most of the fights that he did choose to fight when taking on top fighters.


I am as big a Pacman fan as there is, which makes it more ironic that I picked Oscar De La Hoya to win last night’s fight by KO. It wasn’t that I thought that Pacquiao was a bad fighter but I felt that De La Hoya, at this point in his career, would not choose a fight he didn’t think he would win.


If one looks at the last few De La Hoya fights, outside of the Bernard Hopkins fight he had most of the advantages. Even with Floyd Mayweather, he made sure he was the bigger man and with Pacquiao, De La Hoya chose him because he would again have all the advantages.


He had the height, reach, and strength and the only disadvantages he would have are speed and age, the latter ended up being more significant than any other advantage either would have. 


It’s hard to gauge when age finally kicks in, especially when fossils like Hopkins continues to go out and defy Father Time. But one thing is certain, when it happens, it happens suddenly and shockingly and that was the case last night.


I do not want to take anything away from Pacquiao and I know it sounds like sour grapes because I picked De La Hoya to win. But nothing I said De La Hoya would do to score the KO played out.


Oscar did not use his height by fighting tall, he did not utilize his jab, he didn’t even try to outbox the smaller man, and he ended up just taking punches and eventually quit. 


To Pacquiao’s credit, he was part of the reason De La Hoya would not be able to implement his plan, but we’ll definitely never know if this was the case because De La Hoya didn’t even try to do those things; it was almost as if he had no respect for Pacquiao’s power until it was too late. 


To my credit I also said in my analysis that the only way Pacquiao would win the fight was by KO because as you could see in the fight, he didn’t try to outbox De La Hoya, he outpunched him and De La Hoya allowed him to fight his fight.


Truth be told, I felt more assured that the fight would end by KO than I did with Oscar scoring it; I was in Vegas last week and rather than taking De La Hoya to win by KO, I took the fight to end before 10 full rounds have been completed and the only reason I did that was because I felt that there’s no way Pacquiao could make it to the end if De La Hoya was on his game, but I also knew that if he wasn’t, Pacquiao had the skills to stop the Golden Boy. 


Here’s the quote from my fight analysis: "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."


So although I was wrong on my pick I was accurate with my analysis and I was right where it counted…at the sportsbook.


So now where does each fighter go from here? I told my friends that if De La Hoya doesn’t win this fight by KO, a fight that HE chose and HE had most of the advantages, then he should retire. 


Now that he quit on his stool, I think he should definitely call it a day. He has nothing else to gain by fighting and just like the legendary Marvelous Marvin Hagler famously said, "It’s hard to get up and do roadwork when you’re wearing silk pajamas". 


De La Hoya has all the money in the world and if he can’t beat fighters he selects, there’s no reason to continue. He should just focus all of his attention on his business enterprises, but boxers aren’t the most gracious of athletes so he’ll probably take one more fight with someone else he feels he’ll beat, hopefully get the victory, and then retire on a good note. 


As for Pacquiao, he was already the best fighter in the world, pound for pound, but now, by coming up two weight classes and beating a big name fighter, he has cemented his place at the top spot. 


However, I don’t think that too much should be made of this fight; if this fight takes place even two years ago, Oscar wins. Welterweight is probably the thickest division in boxing with most of those boxers being in their prime and also having height and reach advantages. 


Even with that being the case, Pacquiao’s tenacity will keep him in most of those fights. But at this point, the biggest fight out there for him is with the currently retired Mayweather. Floyd has called for this fight plenty of times but many disregarded it because of the weight but now that is no longer a factor. 


Pacquiao v Mayweather is a very intriguing fight. Mayweather was the Pound for Pound best before he retired and Pacquiao is the current best. Mayweather won a split decision over De La Hoya and Pacquiao destroyed him. Both fighters have fought a good number of their fights at less than lightweight and come with big wins at higher weight classes. 


Manny has been incredibly active the past few years and Mayweather’s last fight was the KO of previously undefeated Ricky Hatton in December 2007. 


Most would probably lean toward Pacquiao after the way he crushed De La Hoya, but I will not be among them. If this fight were to take place next year, Mayweather would only be 32, still in his prime, would have height and reach advantages, is a master boxer and has underrated power. 


Mayweather has done very well against fighters that come to him, using his boxing skills to do what De La Hoya should have done in his fight with Pacquiao. However, he will have never faced a fighter like Pacman and that would keep him in the fight. 


The fighters that have given Pacquiao tough fights (Erik Morales, Juan Manuel Marquez) have outboxed him, which is what I thought De La Hoya would try to do and there is no doubt that Mayweather is the best boxer in the past 10 years.


It must be said that it is not certain that Mayweather would come out of retirement regardless of how much money is offered, especially considering that there was millions of dollars on the table to rematch De La Hoya and he still called it quits.


But as last night showed, anything can happen in boxing, including De La Hoya getting old in one fight.