Status: The Resurrection
Join Date: Aug 2006
Good write up from Graham Houston:
The simple way of looking at Saturday’s PPV 12-rounder between Oscar De La Hoya and Manny Pacquiao is that this is a good big man meeting a good little man, and that in this situation the good big man usually wins.
Maybe it will indeed turn out to be just that straightforward, but there are subplots and there could be twists and turns in the storyline before the book is closed on the welterweight fight that just might live up to its “Dream Match” billing.
De La Hoya has the physical advantages but Pacquiao looks astonishingly strong in the training camp images. This might not be a case of a former middleweight and junior middleweight champion bullying a lightweight champion who was a 130-pounder just nine months ago. Pacquiao looks as if he is eminently capable of bringing firepower and fierce aggression into the fight, and De La Hoya told the media in Las Vegas this week that he sees the Filipino as a dangerous opponent and accordingly: “I trained for King Kong.”
Pacquiao’s trainer, Freddie Roach, who prepared De La Hoya for the Golden Boy’s fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr., is very confident. He says he sees areas of weakness in De La Hoya, one being that the 35-year-old, six-weight-division world champion “can’t pull the trigger” on his punches the way he once could.
Roach is among those who feels that De la Hoya has a stamina problem. “We’ll start real fast and press the issue and make Oscar fight every minute of every round,” Roach said when I spoke with him about the fight. “I really believe that Manny can break him down and stop him.”
De La Hoya’s trainer for the fight, Mexico’s well-respected Ignacio Beristain, has the experience of having been across the ring from Pacquiao in two bouts, though, when his fighter Juan Manuel Marquez drew and narrowly lost to the Filipino superstar. Many (me included) had Marquez edging the decision in each of those fights.
If anyone knows how to train a fighter to beat Pacquiao, it surely is Beristain, and it can’t hurt De La Hoya having legend Angelo Dundee on hand to offer some words of wisdom.
Pacquiao backers wonder if De La Hoya might be a little weight-drained getting down to 147 pounds for the first time in more than seven years but I am not sure that this will be an issue. De La Hoya looked strong at 150 pounds when he outclassed Steve Forbes in May. He has been boxing an awfully long time and knows what he is doing, and he also knows his own body. I do not believe that he would be fighting at 147 if he feared he would be diminished.
De La Hoya fought at a brisk pace for all 12 rounds against Forbes, too, which brings us to the matter of late-rounds staying power (or lack thereof). It is true that De La Hoya disappointingly back-pedalled in the last few rounds against Felix Trinidad, and losing the last round cost him a draw on the scorecards in each of his two bouts against Shane Mosley. However, De La Hoya scored 11th-round knockouts against Fernando Vargas and Oba Carr, almost stopped Ike Quartey in the 12th, dropped Javier Castillejo in the 12th and won the last round on two scorecards against Mayweather. The evidence doesn’t really support the “fades late” assertions.
Pacquiao has the speed advantage, no question, but De La Hoya has never been what you could call a slow fighter. His hand speed has always been excellent.
I am not at all sure that Pacquiao will have De La Hoya bothered and bewildered simply by being the faster man. To be effective, Pacquiao is going to have to be quick enough to attack, score, and slip away without being caught on the way in or on the way out, which is not easy to do against an expert marksman such as De La Hoya.
Yes, De La Hoya was getting hit quite a lot by Forbes, and he came out of the fight a bit banged up. “You know, I always seem to have trouble against the slick boxers,” De La Hoya admitted in a phone conversation last week, “but Pacquiao’s not that sort of fighter.”
De La Hoya is right about this. Pacquiao is a wonderful fighter, and I am a big admirer, but he’s not a particularly slippery boxer. In essence, while Pacquiao’s boxing skills have improved he remains a fighter. All right, I know that Manny looked sensational when dominating David Diaz but he was meeting a slow, straightforward, hittable battler who was made to order for him.
I think back to the two fights with Marquez and the first fight with Erik Morales. Pacquiao was getting hit a lot in these fights because he was meeting boxers who could punch accurately and knew how to jab with precision and shoot the straight right hand through the middle. These gruelling fights were in the 126 to 130-pound weight range. Now he is meeting a 5ft 10ins welterweight.
Even allowing for Pacquiao’s improvement technically, if he was getting hit by jabs, hooks and right hands against Marquez and Morales, it stands to reason that he will be getting hit by the taller De La Hoya — and he has never been hit by a welterweight before.
I don’t attach much importance to Pacquiao having turned pro at 106 pounds because he was only 16 years old — Jimmy McLarnin was little more than a flyweight when he turned professional and he became a hard-hitting welterweight champion — but there is a marked natural-size difference between Saturday’s rivals. I think De La Hoya’s reach, his jab and his hand speed will be big problems for Pacquiao. Also, as impressive as Pacquiao looks, I am not sure he can affect De La Hoya seriously with his punches.
De La Hoya, though, can definitely put Pacquiao in a lot of trouble if he can nail him.
Although De la Hoya has been predicting a knockout win, in our brief phone conversation he stopped short of saying that he believes he will win in five rounds as he has been quoted as saying. “Somebody asked me for my ideal ending for the fight,” De La Hoya said, “and I said: ‘A knockout never hurts. If it comes early, it comes early, and I like five rounds.’ ”
“I believe this fight is going to be that type of fight where whoever lands the first hard, solid punch is going to win the fight,” he added. “It’s going to be a fight where you’re going to see a lot of action and explosiveness, and I want to knock him out.”
He said that he took note of how effective Marquez was with the left hand against Pacquiao.
“Obviously the jab is the key to opening the doors,” De La Hoya said. “The jab is going to be the start of many other punches we’re going to throw — and I’ve been known to throw some good, solid, straight jabs at my opponents, and that’s one thing we’ve been working on. This fight here, I’ll be throwing no less than 30, 40, jabs a round. I’m prepared for that. My left shoulder feels great, my elbow feels great and my left hand’s feeling incredible, and that [the left hand] is going to be the key.”
Pacquiao is more guarded in his comments. Talking over the phone from Los Angeles last week, Pacquiao said that he believes he will be carrying his punching power up in weight with him and that he feels much stronger — but just as fast — with his added muscle mass. “I don’t like to make predictions,” he said, “but I can promise and guarantee you that you will see a great fight from Manny Pacquiao.”
I am sure we will. I think that Pacquiao is going to be very competitive early, and I would be little short of astounded if he got stopped in the early rounds. Gradually, though, I believe that De La Hoya’s jab, the hooks, the sheer weight of his punches to body and head, will wear Pacquiao down. After a fast-paced, exciting first seven or eight rounds, I think that De La Hoya will start to dominate proceedings and overpower Pacquiao with a barrage of punches in or around the 10th round. I am expecting a tremendous, big-hearted fight from Pacquiao — it’s just that I don’t think it will be enough.
Although I'm not necessarily passionate about either of the fighters, this fight continues to intrigue me the closer it gets. So many possible scenarios play out. One thing that I haven’t seen discussed is that fact that over the last 5 years, DHL has lost to every elite level fighter he’s faced. (and some not so elite – Felix Sturm) The flip side of that is that those fighter’s names are Mayweather, Hopkins, and Mosley.
I can't remember a fight I've been this on the fence about as far as predicting the result.