Is De La Hoya A Genius or Just Dumb?

By William Mackay: For little over a week, Oscar De La Hoya has been taking a real hammering for his decision to hand select super featherweight Manny Pacquaio as his next and last opponent of his career on December 6th. With many boxing fans calling De La Hoya an idiot, and other such names, for opting to choose a fighter so much smaller than himself, maybe he knows something that the fans and boxing writers don't. After all, he's been successful for most of his career and has won countless titles, fought in 18 PPV events, grossing an enormous $594 million all total.. For someone with so much success as that, surely he couldn't have all of sudden become tone deaf to the public, could he?

Come on, who wouldn't want to see Oscar face Pacquiao? This is a fight the public will love to hate, eventually perhaps breaking the previous PPV records set for De La Hoya's huge $120 million PPV fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr. in May 2007. Pacquiao has a huge following of an entire country of the Philippines, with many fans in the U.S and elsewhere around the world. I can't see any fighter that comes close to having the same amount of fans as Pacquiao. So what if he's a few pounds lighter than De La Hoya, just as long as on fight night they're both around the same size.

Pacquiao has already said that he walks around between fights at a solid 145 lbs, and regularly spars with welterweights, and is said to always get the better of them. If that's the case, then he'll have no problem fighting well at 147 lbs, and if it's indeed true that he's handling the welterweights well that he's sparring with, he may be good enough to pull off an upset. De La Hoya had a lot of problems with his last opponent, the smallish Steve Forbes who swelled up De La Hoya's face and landed often with big shots.

The problem for Manny, however, is that he's going to need to land much more often than Forbes did if he wants to have a chance to pull off the upset. De La Hoya will be using his reach as much as possible to try and prevent Pacquiao from getting inside on him, and if Pacquiao can't get close enough, this may turn out to be an easy win for De La Hoya. De La Hoya hasn't looked good in the second half of his last two fights, showing fatigue down the stretch and losing his mental edge along with his stamina.

Though the fight will be popular, there's no question about that, it comes at a price for De La Hoya, because whether he wins or loses the fight, he's going to be laughed at and criticized by boxing fans and writers along the way for choosing such a small fighter. That's something he's going to have to live with and try to shut out as best as he can, because it's not going to go away and it will surely build up as the fight nears. If he's not afraid to be laughed at and made fun of, then he'll do alright by fighting Pacquiao.

However, if it bothers him what people think of his image, then he likely made a big mistake in selecting such a small fighter to take on. It helps him, I suppose, that this is going to be the last fight of his career, meaning that he won't have to listen to people mocking him as he prepares for future fights. It doesn't help his legacy any, because he'll get no credit for beating Pacquiao, and will become the laughing stock of boxing should be defeated by him.

If he needs the money, the attention, then this is the fight for him. There's probably no other fighter that can bring in such a range of emotions as him choosing Pacquiao as his final opponent. Hopefully, De La Hoya knows how to live with the ridicule that will likely follow him till the end of his career should he take this fight.

Article posted on 13.08.2008

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