I’ve said just about everything I can say about the strange idea of the sport’s biggest star, Oscar De La Hoya (154 lbs.), fighting Manny Pacquiao (135 lbs.), the sport’s best practitioner. Like it or not, it’s now afoot. Golden Boy Promotions just sent out the announcement that it’s a go for Dec. 6 on HBO pay-per-view. It should be a huge fight all over the world. De La Hoya is saying it’s going to be his last fight, although Golden Boy’s matchmaker told BoxingScene.com he hopes to convince the Golden Boy himself to keep fighting through 2009. And Pacquiao will bring his legion of fans from the Philippines.
There are storylines aplenty to explore — De La Hoya vowing to do right by Mexico, whose best fighters have been regularly dismantled by Pacquiao; whether Pacquiao can break into the U.S. mainstream the way he deserves to; etc. — but for now, I think this fight boils down to two essential truths, based on the discussions we’ve had in the comments sections of several recent blog entries:
1. If the biggest fight is your priority — that is, the one that makes the most money, features the biggest stars and puts the most eyes on boxing — you just got your wish. I don’t begrudge anyone that point of view, because if I was Pacquiao and De La Hoya, I’d be wanting the money, and as a fan of boxing, I want to see it thrive and succeed with new and casual fans. But if the best fight for each man is your priority — by that I mean, the quality of the match-up and its significance in establishing resumes — then you didn’t get what you want, because for Pacquiao, that’s a third bout with Juan Manuel Marquez or failing that, whomever comes out of the September trio of top-flight lightweight fights looking like “The Man,” and for Oscar De La Hoya, it’s someone more his own size, maybe even someone more his own age. Which feeds into the second essential truth.
2. No matter the outcome, this fight will likely prove very little of substance. As Yahoo’s Kevin Iole said, if Pacquiao wins, it really just proves that De La Hoya is too old. If De La Hoya wins, it just proves that Pacquiao is too small.
Despite my skepticism, I’ll definitely be tuning in. It’s an intriguing fight, for sure, because you do have to wonder whether age or size will tell. There will be excitement and hype galore, and inevitably I’ll get sucked in to it and be heavily anticipating the fight by the time it happens. But I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. For now, read on for what Oscar and gang said in the official announcement.
Via Golden Boy Promotions:
LOS ANGELES (August 28) – The wait is over and the fight is on. . .Olympic gold medalist and 10-time world champion “The Golden Boy” OSCAR DE LA HOYA will face current Ring Magazine No. 1-ranked pound for pound champion MANNY “Pacman” PACQUIAO on Saturday, December 6 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada in a bout that will be produced and distributed live by HBO Pay-Per-View.
Presented by Golden Boy Promotions and Top Rank, Inc., the bout will be a 12-round, non-title fight contested at the 147-pound welterweight limit. This exciting and intriguing match-up pits two of the most recognizable and popular talents in the sport today in what will surely be the grand finale of the 2008 boxing calendar year.
“Manny Pacquiao is considered the best fighter in boxing today and I always want to fight the best,” said De La Hoya. “I am glad we were able to make this fight happen because while Pacquiao is at the pinnacle of his success and has defeated all of the top fighters he has faced, I am going to show the world that it stops with me. December 6 can’t get here soon enough.”
“This is my greatest challenge,” said Pacquiao. “When I take that walk to the ring to fight Oscar, I will carry all the people of The Philippines – the entire country – on my shoulders. I promise I will fight with all of my heart and that I will give everything I have. Like my trainer Freddie Roach says, I have what it takes to win the biggest fight of my life.”
After several weeks of amicable discussions between De La Hoya’s company, Golden Boy Promotions, and Pacquiao’s promoter, Top Rank, Inc., a deal was struck this week ensuring fans around the world the opportunity to see this dream match-up.
Richard Schaefer, Chief Executive Officer, Golden Boy Promotions said, “This fight will have the whole world talking and will be a fantastic night for boxing. Oscar’s career has always been defined by taking on the biggest challenges and fighting best names in boxing. This fight against a great champion like Manny Pacquiao is just another testament to his readiness to face the strongest competition and continue his legacy as one of the greatest fighters boxing has ever seen.”
Hall of Fame promoter Bob Arum, Chairman of the Board, Top Rank added, “This fight is what all sports fans are looking forward to, a contest between two champions who come to fight and who are the most popular names in boxing today. Manny Pacquiao is taking on a major task in facing the legendary Oscar de la Hoya, but we at Top Rank are very confident Manny will handle himself extremely well.”
Richard Sturm, President of Sports and Entertainment, MGM MIRAGE said, “MGM MIRAGE has hosted the greatest names in sports and entertainment and this event will certainly continue that tradition. We look forward to presenting one of the most exciting promotions in the history of boxing and there is no question this fight will have a major impact on fans worldwide.”
Mark Taffet, HBO Pay-Per-View said, “De La Hoya-Pacquiao is a dream match-up which will capture the imagination of sports fans everywhere. It’s the pay-per-view king vs. the pound-for-pound king and an event in which both fighters’ popularity clearly transcends the sport.”
Oscar de la Hoya has been a fan favorite and the most successful pay-per-view attraction in the history of the boxing. A 1992 Olympic Gold Medalist for the United States, de la Hoya (39-5, 30 KOs) is a champion in every division he has competed in from 130 to 160 pounds and has faced boxing’s elite for over 15 years, including Floyd Mayweather, Julio Cesar Chavez, Bernard Hopkins, Shane Mosley, Felix Trinidad, Pernell Whitaker, Ike Quartey, Fernando Vargas, Arturo Gatti, Genaro Hernandez, Jesse James Leija and Hector Camacho Sr. In his fight against Mayweather on May 5, 2007, he fell short via a close split decision, but set records with the fight having the most pay-per-view buys and grossing the most revenue in the history of boxing. In his last fight against Steve Forbes on May 3, 2008 De La Hoya registered a dominating unanimous decision victory, winning nearly every round of the fight which took place in suburban Los Angeles at the outdoor Home Depot Center soccer stadium, another first for boxing’s star attraction.
Manny Pacquiao (47-3-2, 35 KOs) is recognized by most knowledgeable observers as the best fighter at any weight in the world today. Pacquiao, 29, has held world titles in four weight divisions, winning the WBC flyweight world title two weeks before his 20th birthday in December of 1998, the IBF junior featherweight world title at age 22 in 2001, the WBC super featherweight world title in March of this year and most recently the WBC lightweight world title in his last fight on June 28 against defending champion David Diaz.