Being the world’s pay-per-view or PPV king of television for many years now, multi-titled fighter and US Olympic gold medalist Oscar De La Hoya seems to have run out of opponents. Having fought almost all the good fighters in his divisions from the welterweight (147 lb.) to the middleweight (160) although losing some of them by either decisions or knockout, he still commands the biggest share of the prize money each time. That’s because he is also the promoter of his fights. As can be recalled, despite losing his fight against then top pound–for-pound fighter Floyd Mayweather, Jr. last year, he still took the biggest share of the promotion. CNN reported that the fight grossed US $70 million between them with De La Hoya getting $45M share of the proceeds. This time, getting near retirement, De La Hoya made it known that he will be fighting his last within this year and wants it to be one with a big bang. In other words, he wants it to be something really very big and grand, and against a fighter with a name and appeal to fans worldwide. And the name that always crops in his list is Manny Pacquiao. oscar dela hoya

As the hottest and most exciting fighter today, Pacquiao happens just to be the right choice for De La Hoya’s supposed to be last fight. But why he picked Pacquiao over other good fighters of his level is perhaps that only Pacquiao can bring in more interests and money into this fight. Although they have a big difference in weight, he being a natural junior middleweight (155) while Pacquiao is just a newcomer in the lightweight (135) division, De La Hoya knows and sees that only Pacquiao can give him a real fight and a run for his money. In Pacquiao, he will be up against a fighter who seems not to get tired throwing punches and doesn’t know how to move backward but forward. And unlike him who many times contented himself of winning fights just be decisions, Pacquiao doesn’t. As his records show, Pacquiao has knocked down or knocked out almost all the top fighters, mostly Mexicans that he had faced. That’s because while most fighters climb the ring just to exchange punches with their opponents, Pacquiao climbs to knock them out and that’s what makes him a classic and an exciting fighter to watch.

If Pacquiao’s recent win against David Diaz were to be any gauge in his match up with De La Hoya, then, it is his knockout win that impressed De La Hoya as the win was no fluke and that there’s no belittling Diaz as he was a champion in his own right. Such that if ever their match up really takes place, it would surely bring in fans, writers and skeptics to ponder for a while. However, where the issue would attract most will be in their weight difference. As reported, both parties have agreed that the two fighters settle at 147 lb. or at a level within their reach and that’s the welterweight division. Not seeing much problem with regards to Pacquaio moving up again to a higher level, long time coach and mentor Freddie Roach was even the first to propose this match up. In fact, what incensed and probably lured De La Hoya to pick Pacquiao over others were the statements uttered by Roach that “…De La Hoya can’t pull the trigger anymore and that Manny can even knock him out…” With that in mind, De La Hoya had no other options but to give in to the challenge hurled by Roach and Pacquiao is not fazed by the weight difference as he fears no one. As his usual response to every challenges, Pacquaio’s always says, “anytime, anywhere”. And being the promoter of his fights, however, De La Hoya will have all the options how much prize money to offer Pacquiao and a share of the PPV net proceeds. This writer hopes that Pacquiao will not be underpaid again this time that if only he has a say, Pacquiao should have an equal pay as De La Hoya’s because without Pacquiao, there will be no grand fight.

Reminiscent of the third fight between Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier in 1975 or the so-called Thrilla in Manila, it will be in the training of the two fighters that will be the biggest factor in this “dream fight”. With the fighters having a big difference in weights, it will be how they train and approach the fight that will determine the outcome of their fight. In 1975, this writer has witnessed for five successive days the training of both Ali and Frazier at the Folk Arts Theater of the Philippines. To accommodate both, Ali trained in the morning session while Frazier at noon or right after Ali finishes his. Complete with presentable training facilities; a makeshift ring, speed ball, heavy bag, massage table and everything, both fighters trained with gusto till the last days of their training. While Ali trained lightly, sparring with a smaller spar mates, perhaps a middleweight to hone his speed, he sparred with bigger spar mates later with most of the time just parrying their punches a la rope-a-dope. Meanwhile, by the time Frazier takes over and contrary to Ali’s training regimen, he sparred heavily punishing his spar mates with heavy punches while allowing himself also to be battered as well. By fight time, the way they trained took its toll.

Being a boxing genius that he is, Ali not only knew how to train and prepare himself for a 15-round fight but also how to approach such fight. As his usual self, Ali used to make people laughed or be amused by what he does in or outside the ring – for fun and to arouse interests in the fight. So, when Frazier starts his training session every time, Ali remained in the vicinity to poke fun and make faces at Frazier in training. Many fans at the time and unmindful of what Ali was up to, wondered why Ali was doing it allowing himself to be criticized in the media for his unruly and childish behavior. However, what Ali was doing at the time was to psychologically wear down Frazier to his boiling point so as to show his rage during the fight. But in reality, Ali “spied” for himself if how Frazier trained such that by fight time, Ali had Frazier at his mercy. In the 12th round, Ali pummeled Frazier who was already very exhausted that the way he threw his punches as if he was typing a letter on a typewriter. With Ali dominating the fight throughout and inflicting too many punches in the last two rounds, Frazier’s manager and coach Eddie Futch motioned Filipino referee Carlos Padilla to stop the fight after the 14th giving Ali a 15th rd TKO victory to retain his heavyweight title. Thereafter, gracious and appreciative in victory, Ali praised Joe Frazier as “the Greatest Fighter next to myself. Frazier always brings out the best in me.”

In Pacquiao’s case, he need not to psychologically wear down De La Hoya in their training, but just to watch and study how he will starve and wear himself down to 147 pounds by weigh-in time and during the fight. And everything will go his way.

(To be continued. . .)

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Maree cartujano
Sports Pundit staff writer
Sports writer and editor....

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