The stage is set for the end of an era
Oscar De La Hoya is a movie star with wrinkles. He is ready for another close-up, but not before he spends some extended time in makeup.
He is boxing’s Clint Eastwood. He is to be respected, even revered. Like Eastwood, when De La Hoya is gone from the stage, which is certainly soon, he will remain a key figure. Eastwood directs and produces marvelous movies. De La Hoya will produce and direct marvelous boxers and boxing shows, from his perch as president of Golden Boy Promotions.
Which brings us to tonight’s 147-pound De La Hoya extravaganza against Manny Pacquiao at the MGM Grand. Expect a passing of the torch. Eastwood hands off to Matt Damon.
The consensus among the boxing media here is that, while De La Hoya is in the twilight of a career that carried his sport for at least the last 10 years, he is the bigger boxer in this match and still has enough left to carry the day.
The boxing media, including this typist, is a world leader in throwing stuff up against the wall. Nobody knows, but we are just a bit more articulate in our ignorance.
That being said, Pacquiao will win this match for the following five reasons:
The Felix Trinidad Syndrome.
It was 1999, De La Hoya had not been beaten, was 26 years old, had the boxing world by the tail, and clearly looked invincible.
Against Trinidad, he appeared to win the first seven rounds. A victory seemed secure, the planets were aligned.
And then he decided to stick and move, boxing parlance for running. The judges weren’t impressed and Trinidad got the decision.
In retrospect, the moment proved that De La Hoya, who has never been hit much or hurt badly, is too smart to be a brawler and generally finds that distasteful.
Pacquiao likes to brawl.
The Shane Mosley Syndrome.
De La Hoya lost twice to this very good boxer from Pomona, also a bit smaller than De La Hoya. Mosley’s skills are built around foot speed and hand speed.
So are Pacquiao’s.
The Floyd Mayweather Jr. Syndrome.
De La Hoya fought Mayweather on May 5 of last year. Until today, that was boxing’s biggest recent showcase. In De La Hoya’s corner last year was trainer Freddie Roach, who pushed him to use his always-reliable jab to push Mayweather into submission over the entire 12 rounds.
Somewhere along the line, De La Hoya stopped jabbing and Mayweather started winning. Roach knows why the jabbing stopped, and he is in the Pacquiao corner for this one.
The Stevie Forbes Syndrome.
De La Hoya fought Forbes on May 3 of this year.
It was a wonderful public relations gesture. It was held in the soccer stadium at the Home Depot Center, where there was room for more than 20,000 people and more than that showed up. Ticket prices were scaled down to allow access for the common man to see this boxer of the people.
It is the kind of thing that De La Hoya does best. Huge public exposure. Flash that wonderful smile. Win friends and influence people. If he hadn’t been a boxer, he’d be governor.
De La Hoya won a decision over Forbes, who was even smaller than Pacquiao and who won his way into this match by losing in the final of a made-for-TV show.
Afterward, De La Hoya’s face was badly swollen and a small bone under one eye had been broken.
The Marquez, Diaz Syndrome.
Last March 15, Pacquiao won a split decision over Juan Manuel Marquez in a fight that featured speed, endurance, tactics and brawling.
Three months later, Pacquiao knocked out David Diaz in the ninth round. Diaz was a bigger fighter who could brawl and take a punch. Pacquiao had prepared for De La Hoya by taking on a little bit of everything.
The Diaz fight was Pacquiao’s 12th fight in the same five-year period in which De La Hoya had six. Pacquiao’s record in that span is 10-1-1.