Oscar-Pacquiao a match that shouldn’t happen
A few days before Oscar De La Hoya’s 2003 rematch with Shane Mosley at the MGM Grand Garden, scalpers aplenty could be found traversing the alleys along the Las Vegas Strip.
But these weren’t just any tickets they were hawking.
They were tickets to closed circuit viewings of the fight. People wanted to see the fight so badly they were willing to pay above face value to watch it on a movie screen in a hotel ballroom. In many cases, they weren’t in the same hotel as the fight was being held.
One scalper said he got $200 for a single seat, which had a face value of $50.
By that stage, De La Hoya fights had long since passed from being mere sporting events and had turned into social gatherings for the rich and famous, but even by De La Hoya’s standards, this was amazing.
That scene, however, is small potatoes compared to what will occur in Las Vegas in December. De La Hoya plans to end his illustrious career – or, at least that’s what he’s saying now – by fighting once more, on Dec. 6 at the MGM Grand.
The selection of his opponent has dragged on so long it’s made the Democratic presidential primary seem like a whirlwind process.
The Internet has been filled with rumors of who it might be, and De La Hoya and Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer have played brilliant puppet masters. They’ve dropped hints that spark flurries in the media. They issue deadlines for the selection that invariably are missed.
De La Hoya says repeatedly he wants the biggest and best challenge he can face.
If he’s a man of his word, he’d sign to fight WBA welterweight champion Antonio Margarito, who is coming off an impressive stoppage of previously unbeaten Miguel Cotto.
But, uh, Oscar isn’t looking for that much of a challenge.
And nor was he interested in moving up and challenging unbeaten middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik. Pavlik is now signed to fight De La Hoya’s business partner, Bernard Hopkins, in an over-the-weight non-title match on Oct. 18 in Atlantic City, N.J.
Pavlik, the type of formidable challenge De La Hoya said he craved,
was desperate for an opponent. He would have jumped through just about any hoop De La Hoya would have thrown his way to get the fight and is
De La Hoya nixed that one, too. Too big, the Golden Boy said while on an early June tour to promote his book, “An American Son.” De La Hoya once won a version of the middleweight title – well, he didn’t really win, but he got the decision over Felix Sturm – but was not at all anxious to try to fight a 160-pounder in his farewell.
“No, I’m not going to do that,” De La Hoya said in June. “He’s too big. Kelly Pavlik is a big guy. I tried middleweight once and what I learned is, I’m not a middleweight. I definitely won’t be fighting Kelly Pavlik.”
That’s a reasonable position for De La Hoya to take, except when he forgets that he’s too big for a guy who’s spent much of his career as a super bantamweight.
Apparently, in his quest to ride off into the sunset with the fans roaring his every step, De La Hoya is willing to sacrifice his dignity to fight a guy who currently resides three classes lower than he does.
He’s close to working out a deal with Top Rank to face reigning pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao, a lightweight, in that Dec. 6 bout.
De La Hoya has not weighed less than 150 pounds in a fight since he stopped Arturo Gatti on March 24, 2001, when he weighed the welterweight limit of 147. Since then, he’s weighed, in order, 154, 154, 154, 154, 160, 155, 153 1/2, 154 and 150.
And so the man who says that Kelly Pavlik, who fights one division above him, is too big, wants to fight a guy who was fighting at 120 pounds in 2002 when De La Hoya moved up to the super welterweight division.
If there’s such a thing as self-respect, De La Hoya has clearly lost it in the chase for every dollar he can grab.
A fight with Pacquiao would generate millions of dollars, perhaps hundreds of millions, and would be a blockbuster on pay-per-view.
That money, though, would come at the cost of De La Hoya’s dignity.
His trainer, Floyd Mayweather Sr., wasn’t too eager to criticize his meal ticket, but he did suggest that De La Hoya couldn’t end his career against a man so much smaller.
“If Oscar fights, whenever he fights, I’m there and I’ll be in the corner,” Mayweather Sr. said. “This is how I pay my bills and feed my family. If he wants to fight Pacquiao, I’ll be there. I was going to be there if he fought my son, wasn’t I?
“But if Oscar wants to secure his legacy, I would think he’d have to fight someone like Margarito or Little Floyd (Mayweather) after that.”
Instead, it’s looking increasingly as if he’ll fight Pacquiao, who firmly established himself as the world’s finest fighter with his performance on June 28, when he won the WBC lightweight title by stopping David Diaz in Las Vegas.
And while Pacquiao is a better fighter in all categories at this stage of their careers, it’s relative to the size difference.
The pound-for-pound rankings were created as a way to compare fighters who were of vastly different weights, such as De La Hoya and Pacquiao. Boxing fans in the 1940s argued bitterly over who was better, Sugar Ray Robinson or Joe Louis, and so the pound-for-pound title was born.
In 52 fights, Pacquiao has weighed 120 or less 30 times. He’s been between 120 and 130 21 times and over 130 just once. By way of comparison, De La Hoya hasn’t been under 140 since he weighed 139 when he defeated Julio Cesar Chavez more than 12 years ago, on June 7, 1996.
De La Hoya is going to be missed when he retires, because his fights brought much needed attention to the sport. He was a fierce competitor, willing to fight anyone, and his fights were full of drama.
A bout with Pacquiao would be little more than a circus. Instead of an undercard, they can wheel out a bearded lady, the winged boy and the three-legged man to entertain the crowd and save some dough.
Someone has to make De La Hoya realize that a loss to a fighter like Margarito would be far less embarrassing than a win over a guy so much smaller would be.
If De La Hoya wants to turn himself into a sideshow freak, then he should sign the contract to fight Pacquiao.
That will guarantee it.