The “Event” Fighter
"I tried to do the impossible on paper -- beat the middleweight champ coming up from 130 pound."--Oscar De La Hoya
You know, it’s going to be boxing history. You know, it will be boxing record if I beat De La Hoya….So that’s why I’m so focused on this fight. -Manny Pacquiao
Toward the end of Iron Mike Tyson’s career, I heard it said that he could still fill an arena even if he fought a Kangaroo. As I recall, when he fought “The Clones Colossus,” Kevin McBride, in his last fight on June 6, 2005 at the MCI Center in Washington, D.C., the arena was packed to the rafters. Mike skills had deteriorated considerably and he was coming off a stunning KO loss to Danny Williams a year earlier. In fact, Mike fought once a year between 2001 and 2005 and each fight was took on major event status. Heck, even his 2006 exhibition with Corey “T-Rex” Sanders in Youngstown, Ohio on the ill-conceived Mike Tyson World Tour was looked upon with great interest and was a pay-per-view event.
De La Hoya:
At this stage in his storied career, Oscar De La Hoya is no Mike Tyson, but he is well past his prime. Still, when he meets Many Pacquiao this Saturday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, it arguably will be the major boxing event of the year.
While Manny, a big underdog, will be coming in near or at his peak, Oscar really hasn’t been a compelling fighter since his rattling KO of Fernando Vargas in 2002. Yes, he gave Mayweather a close fight and yes, he blew away Mayorga but Tito Trinidad had softened up Mayorga who was ripe for the picking.
Oscar has fought at or above 150 pounds in nine consecutive bouts. Against “Pac Man,” the bout will be at 147 pounds. Manny is coming up from 135 and Oscar is coming down-- and I always like the guy who is coming down. Oscar is naturally bigger and has a monster advantage in dimensions. Manny has a 67’ reach and is only 5’6 1/2/‘’ while De La Hoya is 5’10 1/2’’ with a 73’ reach. Manny last lost in 2005 at 130 pounds to Erik Morales and has fought at that weight until his recent slaughter of David Diaz at 135. The “Golden Boy” believes he will punch harder than ever on December 6 despite having to drop down to welterweight and I believe that will prove the difference. Moreover, he has been hit by much bigger men and it’s hard to envision how Pac Man can hurt him, let alone avoid being clocked himself by a. big Oscar left hook. In the end, it is all about superior size, superior size and superior size.
Oscar did not look great against Steve Forbes and was KOd by Bernard Hopkins He clearly looked less than compelling against Felix Sturm. The plain fact is, he is no longer a great fighter, but like Tyson, he is an “event fighter,” and has an incredible allure. When he fights, it’s a major event that virtually transcends boxing. It’s about ultra hype ad nauseam and includes his adoring female fans, the melodramatic 24/7 reality series, the $54.95 PPV, and the so-called “bad blood” between Freddie Roach and Oscar as a left over from the Mayweather fight. It’s also about the ethnic factor, teaser trailer videos, his “improving” relationship with his father, training in Big Bear with his family nearby, his East LA background; the Olympic Gold Medal, Golden Boy Promotions, Ring Magazine, etc, etc. And like Tyson, fighting the “Golden Boy” ensures that his opponents will walk away with some real gold. In short, it’s all about business with the fight sometimes taking on a peripheral persona.
Some might call this a multi-million dollar Dream Match; I call it a multi-million dollar event. However, had Oscar chosen a Margarito, Cotto, or Williams as his opponent, this indeed would be a dream match instead of what could turn out to be a mismatch.