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21 DECEMBER 2014

 




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SecondsOut Debate: De La Hoya vs. Pacquiao


De La Hoya vs. Pacquiao: HoganPhotos.com
De La Hoya vs. Pacquiao: HoganPhotos.com

As we count down the hours to this weekend’s superfight between Oscar De La Hoya and Manny Pacquiao at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, televised in the USA on HBO Pay-Per-View, SecondsOut’s Editor-In-Chief Clive Bernath and Content Editor Paul Upham debate the many interesting aspects of this unusual match.

Paul Upham (PU): Clive, I am surprised that there are so many people picking Oscar De La Hoya to win easy. I don’t having a problem with people picking Oscar to win, but to have so many people say that it is a mismatch and De La Hoya will win early by knockout, I can’t understand it. Where is it coming from?

Clive Bernath (CB): I have just been reading the message boards at HBO and they are all saying the same thing. They are calling it a circus and saying both boxers are being greedy. Some are saying it could be a glorified sparring match. When this fight was first announced, I though they were having a joke because the first fight of Pacquiao’s career, he weighed 106lbs. He has never boxed above 135lbs. It is ridiculous. De la Hoya has been boxing at 154lbs and above the last seven years. He is 35 years old and as strong as an ox. He is in his prime. No matter what anyone says about Oscar De La Hoya, I know he hasn’t always won, but he has only been beaten by the best and I believe his skills are underestimated. I also think his punching power is underestimated. If Pacquiao gets caught with that left hook, it is goodnight.

PU: That could be true, but you have to admit that Oscar hasn’t been an out and out knockout puncher throughout his career?

CB: Yes, but I think Oscar is more skilful than people give him credit for. As De La Hoya said on 24/7, Pacquiao is an aggressive come forward fighter. He will use his speed to throw punches all night long. But he has been knocked out twice before. I just can’t see Pacquiao winning this fight. The only way I can see Manny winning is by Oscar losing it. By De La Hoya coming down in weight to 147lbs, he is weight drained. That is the only way. After eight rounds, I could see the energy draining from Oscar if Pacquiao is still there. I’ve heard Oscar’s been sparring with Edwin Valero, who is a bigger puncher than Pacquiao, so I think Oscar has done his homework.

PU: On 24/7 we also saw Manny Pacquiao sparring with Amir Khan. Is that the sort of sparring that Manny should be getting?

CB: It’s not. That is not the sparring Manny should be getting. Amir Khan is still a novice. I don’t think that it was serious 100% sparring anyway.

PU: Freddie Roach says that Manny Pacquiao doesn’t spar – he fights!

CB: Amir Khan has been knocked over by some very light punchers. I just feel this is a step too far for Manny Pacquiao. I really do. I would be surprised if Pacquiao wins.

PU: A lot of people are picking De La Hoya to win based on his weight and size advantage, but we have seen plenty of fights where the smaller man has won. Roy Jones Jr over John Ruiz and Ruslan Chagaev who weighed 90lbs less than Nikolay Valuev.

CB: Yes, it is not the weight. You are right. But the way I look at that, Ruiz was not a great champion. Valuev is not a great champion. Roy Jones was a fantastic fighter. The bigger boxers were a lot slower. Oscar won’t be. We are talking about welterweight where the fighters are quicker.

PU: But Manny Pacquiao is fast and he is the best boxer in the world today pound for pound. Let’s be fair, De La Hoya will be in great condition, but Oscar is 35 and he is not what he once was. Oscar is more businessman today than boxer.

CB: This is the sad part of it. Oscar De La Hoya was once the best boxer in the world pound for pound. But his second career now is as a businessman. It is a shame because it could tarnish his boxing legacy with these types of fights. I still think he is physically at his peak as well.

PU: Don’t you think that some people are underselling Manny Pacquiao. Are they saying he isn’t the best boxer in the world pound for pound?

CB: I think he is. But answer me this. If Oscar De La Hoya wins, do we make him our new Pound for Pound No.1 in the SecondsOut rankings?

PU: If Oscar wins convincingly and the argument was proved true that he was just too big for Manny Pacquiao, you would have to question whether he would deserve that No.1 ranking. As we have seen in the past, just because you beat someone in the top ten Pound for Pound, it doesn’t mean that you will be elevated to their position. You have to assess the performance, but for me, if Oscar beats Manny, I think Joe Calzaghe should go to No.1. If Oscar wins, a lot of people are going to say he had an unfair advantage. All of the risk is on Oscar in this fight. If he doesn’t win this fight, Oscar is going to look silly.

CB: Exactly, and he will certainly tarnish his legacy. I can’t understand why Oscar would want to risk any of that for making a few extra dollars.

PU: Is this fight happening because Manny is Pound for Pound No.1? Or is it because it is the biggest money fight out there? Why is Oscar taking this fight?

CB: You could argue it is because Oscar wants that Pound for Pound No.1 crown.

PU: I could see that being his motivation. Last year he fought the Pound for Pound No.1 Floyd Mayweather Jr and lost. Now he is making the same fight. I would suggest that if Pacquiao wasn’t Pound for Pound No.1, this fight wouldn’t even be happening.

CB: You are right. I don’t think it would be, because for me, that is the only motivation Oscar could have.

PU: Oscar could have fought other boxers and still made a lot of money. Though, a lot of people think this is the easiest fight he could have made for the most money return.

CB: When you get to this level of boxing, the fights don’t come easy. But when you are sparring with someone bigger than you, every single punch hurts. If Oscar lands the big left hook or straight right hand only two or three times in the first four rounds, he is going to be chipping away at Manny. You can walk Manny down because he will be in front of Oscar. He is going to get hurt by those punches. He is just not big enough, not matter how tough he is.

PU: How do you see the style of the fight going in the early rounds?

CB: I can see Manny Pacquiao being very quick to start with. I can see him nicking two or three rounds because of his speed. But at the same time, if he is standing in front of Oscar, which he does in most of his fights, because he is an aggressive puncher, he loves to entertain. If he stands in front of Oscar and Oscar just chips away, he could wear Manny down. In the early rounds, Manny could look good, but all of a sudden, he only has to take one on the chin and he is backed up on the ropes. Oscar sees his chance and the fight could be over.

PU: I see Oscar needing to establish his dominance in the early rounds because historically, Oscar does run out of gas in the second six rounds. It was shown against Mayweather. If Pacquiao can get through those first four or five rounds relatively unscathed, I do believe he can go on and win on points. I think it will be a close fight, but if Oscar doesn’t hurt him early and make Manny fight on the back foot, I think it will be hard for Oscar to win a points decision. Pacquiao’s fitness will win over the distance, if he can stay away from Oscar’s best punches.

CB: That is the key. Manny Pacquiao is a crowd pleaser. He is Pound for Pound No.1 because he is exciting. He takes risks. You only have to look at his fights with Morales, Barrera and Marquez. They were exciting fights because he helps to make them that way. He makes his opponent fight by coming forward, throwing punches and taking risks. I just can’t see him doing anything different against De La Hoya.

PU: No, but that offence of Pacquiao will be putting a lot of pressure on Oscar. It is easy to say that De La Hoya’s offence is going to hurt Manny, but if Oscar is covering up because Manny is throwing so many punches a round, it is not going to be easy for Oscar.

CB: I can totally see where you are coming from. Bu at some stage, Oscar is going to hurt Manny with some of his big shots.

PU: I concede that. If Oscar does land hard, it will hurt Manny. I think this is what makes this an interesting fight. Even though some people are calling it a mismatch. I don’t know for sure what is going to happen and that’s what makes it so interesting. I am looking forward to seeing all of the SecondsOut team’s picks on Friday. There should be some interesting selections there.

CB: Having said that, some say a boxer is only as good as his last fight and Manny Pacquiao looked devastating against David Diaz. But Diaz is not De La Hoya.

PU: I don’t think Pacquiao can bully physically De La Hoya like he did Diaz. I think he has to outwork Oscar.

CB: Exactly. Then against Steve Forbes, Oscar just went through the motions.

PU: Well, Steve Forbes isn’t Manny Pacquiao.

CB: Correct.

PU: OK Clive, what is your prediction, what is going to happen?

CB: I think Oscar will grind down Manny in 7 rounds. After 7 or 8 rounds Oscar will have landed enough to stop Manny.

PU: It will be a close fight. Oscar will win a number of early rounds, Manny’s superior fitness and workrate will then see him win a points decision. I don’t think there is any way that Pacquiao will stop De la Hoya. Oscar is a very proud man. He won’t be stopped. While I concede that De La Hoya could knock Pacquiao out, the Pound for Pound No.1 boxer in the world today will find a way to win.


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