First Fightnews.com*, then The Los Angeles Times and others, reported this afternoon that the December mega-fight/freak show betwixt Oscar De La Hoya and Manny Pacquiao is off. Talks broke down over the purse split, according to sources on both sides.
Truly, I do realize this might have been a fight that drew more people into boxing. I want that, I really do. More than that, though, I want excellent fights. There were some people who thought a shrimp like Manny Pacquiao (career started: 106 lbs.; career high weigh-in: 135 lbs.) could make a tough go of it with Oscar De La Hoya (career started: 130 lbs.; career high weigh-in: 160 lbs.), and admittedly, it’s not as crazy an idea to me as it once sounded. I would’ve bought it, sure. I simply wasn’t looking forward to it, though.
Instead, I’m now looking forward to Pacquiao — the sport’s best fighter in any weight class, and among the top two or three most exciting practitioners of the sweet science — settling in at the deepest, finest and most interesting division in the entire sport, the lightweight class. There’s not a single person in the division’s elite I wouldn’t want to see him fight — Joel Casamayor, Nate Campbell, Joan Guzman, Juan Diaz, Michael Katsidis, and, especially (swoon) Juan Manuel Marquez — and if he does it for a couple years, there are a bunch of dynamite prospects and potentially nice match-ups with opponents moving up from 130 lbs. in the offing, be they Amir Khan or Edwin Valero or whomever. As it happens, his team now says he’s taking an intriguing in-between kind of fight against exciting 130-pound brawler Humberto Soto. Here’s hoping it isn’t on pay-per-view. That, I won’t buy. Probably too easy for Pacquiao at lightweight and with his skill level.
Unfortunately, this leaves De La Hoya without an obvious dance partner. He doesn’t want Antonio Margarito, and as I’ve said before, I can’t blame him. Sergio Mora, Winky Wright — none of the other options have the kind of star power Pacquiao does. Sooner or later, all the people who diss De La Hoya’s every move are going to regret it when he’s gone, because he says he’s retiring after his next fight, whoever it’s against. He’s been a major reason for boxing sustaining what popularity it has. I hope he can find someone that will help him go out with a bang, and generate the kind of splash that can give the sport a little momentum to coast on for a while.
Like I said, there’s a contradiction here between my two impulses: the desire to see boxing flourish and the desire to see good fights. Here, my second impulse takes precedent. And thus I praise Jebus, to quote Homer Simpson.
Naturally, this fight could re-emerge, zombie-like, should De La Hoya realize Pacquiao was his best option or should Pacquiao realize that 30 percent of a gazillion is still many-fold times more than he’s ever made in his whole life. If so, disregard this post, please.
*Kudos to commenter Sound&Fury for the tip on Fightnews.com.