Boxing: It’s ALIVE!!

By Neil Goodman: MMA step aside my friend; there’s a new kid in town! Well, the ‘new’ kid is actually an old kid – but this weekend brings the world a fistic feast; to be savoured by all lovers of combat / contact related sports. For a while now boxing has creep around in the shadow of the UFC and its Octagon derivatives; but for hopefully more than one night and one night only, boxing will have its rightful status restored as the numero uno for mano-a-mano sports entertainment..

In the UK alone, we see Carl ‘The Cobra’ take on an undefeated fighter for the WBC 168lb crown. There is also the return of the Khan; looking to rebuild his stature, as future contender for straps of worldly nature. Not to mention ‘another’ comeback outing for the A Force (note the restraint in not writing Farce); of course I am referring to the Olympic super heavyweight gold medallist – Audley Harrison. SKY viewers also have the opportunity to see Big Mac, whacked out a light-heavyweight?!

Each and every one of the fighters mentioned (above – barring one) is pitted against a reputable standard of opponent; there are sure to be some fireworks along the way. What makes tomorrow night even better is that the pugilist furore will be televised both via satellite and terrestrial TV – truly unprecedented in recent years.

But all of this is small arms fire; compared to the big guns being wheeled out stateside! A few months back De La Hoya versus the Pac Man seemed a ludicrous notion; but now the reality is looming large on the horizon.

If this fight can live up to its billing; then the blue touch paper of boxing could well and truly be lit. Potentially the glow from Las Vegas tomorrow night could span the globe; there are certainly more than a few interested observers over in the Philippines!

When the glamour, glitz and the ‘Event’ is stripped back to its barest form; this is what I see:

Oscar is certainly no longer the Golden ‘Boy’, but; what he is most importantly is a fighter. When he says it, he means it; boxing IS his love and his obsession. The record speaks for itself; as does the training footage shown in the build up to this fight. Oscar is focused and the perceived trauma of draining himself down to the constraints of the 147lb weight limit, seem to have reinvigorated him.

Manny Pacquiao is currently the hottest ticket in boxing. A four weight world champion and most importantly he is an all-action warrior. In recent years Manny has destroyed such Mexican legends as Barrera and Morales; in his most recent fight he stepped up and took out lightweight David Diaz.

Now let us drill this bout down a stage further!

A 135lb David Diaz is one thing; a 145lb Oscar De La Hoya is another! Since the fight was announced; a majority of the pundits thought the 4in height and 6in reach advantage would prove to be the telling the factors. But Oscar has thrown out as statement of intent; if Freddie Roach thought Oscar was going to play Castillo games on the scales – guess again!

By the time the first bell rings, of course Oscar will be somewhere north of 154lbs. But at the weigh-in tonight he has shown he can still do ‘welter’ and do it easily. Manny’s weigh was a sensible 142lbs; the fight was never going to be won or lost solely on the scales and Manny had nothing to gain by proving he is a ‘real’ welterweight (because he is not).

I spent some time reviewing some Pacquiao footage last night and whilst I fully acknowledge he is a great fighter, I simply can not see him defeating De La Hoya. Manny looked small (and I mean very small) compared to Barrera, but he took on the challenge of the Baby Faced Assassin at the right time (a trick he repeated against Morales). He was pushed to the wire by Juan Manuel Marquez; both desperately close fights and both being in a much lower weight division.

Now here comes the bomb shell; Manny whilst a hurtful puncher, is not a banger and in terms of carrying the power up to 147lb…? The Pac Man marauds, bangs and bombs away; but all the while, he can also be caught. If Marquez could rock him; what impact will the proven blows of De La Hoya have?

The scenes surrounding the weigh-in were awesome and the levels of excitement are now really starting to boil up – you sense something quite special is in the offing. Each camp has left no-stone unturned and now the world waits for ‘The’ bell to ring.

For my money; Oscar seems to have reignited his love for the ‘sweet science’. He has drawn in a wealth of knowledge and experience. The scales tonight would seem to indicate he has managed to roll back the sands of time and for Manny, after three months of build-up the job once again just seems to be big.

Note: I take my hat off to the HBO Team; they really know how to produce a build-up show; of course I am referring to 24/7.

Article posted on 06.12.2008

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