'Call Em Out Fridays': Dela Hoya/Pacquiao - Good For The Fighters, Bad For The Sport
By Vivek Wallace: Ok, here we go again. On the eve of a great showdown between Juan 'Baby Bull' Diaz and Michael Katsidis, somehow, some way, we find ourselves once again entrapped within a very 'Hollywood' type drama where a very unlikely candidate has landed an 'Oscar' on the sports biggest stage. None-the-less, it is what it is, and in today's 'Call Em Out Fridays' segment we'll do what we always do, which is breakdown, decipher and analyze every angle to see what's really going on.
Article posted on 05.09.2008
After we take a look at the perspective that supports this showdown, we'll analyze the one that doesn't, and after I cast my thoughts into the pond, I'm sure many of you will also bite the bait and chew on the goods til' the last drop. So now that the table is set and the blessing has been offered, the time has come....Let's eat!
Pacquiao/Dela Hoya - (The Supportive Perspective): So far in the preliminary coverage by various media sources around the globe this fight has been dubbed as everything from a celebrity match to the sports best planned 'last hurrah'. In many ways, the fight does embody some fantasy like elements as we take a fighter who started his pro career 13 years ago at the 106 lb level - only once fighting above 130 lbs - against a guy who started his career 16 years ago at 130 lbs who hasn't fought below 154 lbs since 2001. Both men are global fan faves and have cult like followings which makes this an eagerly anticipated fight. Throughout the years, these two guys have individually given us some of the best nights in the sport. In Oscar, you have a guy who once upon a time took on all comers, with a resume to prove it. Hopkins, Trinidad, Mayweather, Vargas, Mayorga, and the list goes on. In Pacquiao, you have a fighter whose spirit and sheer desire to succeed at all cost has made him easily the most exciting fighter in the sport to watch. We saw him battle a warrior in Erik Morales, lose, and come right back and make it look easy as he coasted to victory in the rematch. Then there were the showdowns with Barrera, and Marquez, and most recently against former 135 lb champion David Diaz. Many questioned whether or not he could travel north in weight and still carry his power, and that question would be answered easily as he put on a clinic, often hurting the heavier opponent, and subsequently sending him back to the shower room early as he earned himself a 9th round KO in his only fight at the higher weight class. These two men have been involved in a countless amount of classic showdowns and have earned the love and respect of fans all around the world. Despite the vastly different roads they individually traveled to reach this pinnacle, the end result would be the same as these two have now paved the way to where they are now, which is perhaps the biggest stage ever assembled in a boxing showdown. Only a year ago we saw Oscar De La Hoya break all kind of records in the sport as he faced retired pound for pound great Floyd Mayweather Jr. In the absence of Floyd, Oscar has landed himself a shot at the sports latest pound for pound king. For two fighters who have done so much for the sport, the one thing few ever thought would be possible would be a backlash of criticism, but as we stand in the eleventh hour, only months before the proposed showdown, we've learned that only a precious few seem to be interested in the fight. With so much to gain, we now take a glimpse at the echoing criticism that reminds us there could also be so much to lose in the end.
Pacquaio/De La Hoya - (The Critics Perspective): These two fighters have undoubtedly given us some of our greatest moments of the past, but the mere possibility of the two stars being on a collision course have given some fans a reason to question everything about them currently. In Oscar De La Hoya, you have a fighter who has been brave enough to face every challenger with any name recognition he could find, but the trouble is, he left the ring with a loss to most of them. Many have openly taken note of the fact that Oscar has lost to every single future hall-of-famer he has faced that was in their prime at the time of their battle. Some would argue that a in at least one of those losses he should have gotten the nod, (Trinidad), but the flipside to that argument is that in a few of his victories his opponents should have probably gotten the nod as well. The Felix Sturm fight was a great example of this, and even beyond that, many continue to believe that Ike 'Bazooka' Quartey was robbed, as well Pernell Whitaker, so that argument can be quickly nullified. In an era where so many great fighters have left their stamp on the sport by displaying dominating performances, it remains a question to most how Oscar continues to be allowed by the media to stand atop the mountain based on actions of yesterday in a sport that lives by the motto "What have you done for me lately"? In Manny Pacquiao, you have a fighter who has - in stark contrast to Oscar - actually proven his mettle against most of his opposition, yet many fans are quick to point out the fact that most of his victories came against fighters who had seen their fair share of wars, and before he could test his faith against the ones in his path who remain in their prime - (Campbell, Valero, Juan Diaz, Guzman, etc) - he has instead chosen to grab a money bag that could come with a plethora of injuries and a psyche that could be badly fractured when it's all over. Pacquiao would be willing to give up 4 inches in height and 6 inches in reach to secure this mega payday. Despite his heart and drive to succeed, it becomes very tough for some to fathom the possibility of him suffering a career setback by losing to an opponent that he probably shouldn't be facing. The possibilities are endless but one thing for sure, it'll all begin to resonate quickly if Pacquiao falls short in a fight that he probably shouldn't be taking to begin with.
Pacquiao/De La Hoya - (This Writers Perspective): At the end of the day, I think that you have to see this fight for what it really is, which is a fighter anxious to deliver an unprecedented accomplishment, against one who has run out of quality opposition that he feels he can actually deliver against. The old adage has it that a great big man defeats a great little man nearly every time, and in this case, the bigger man may indeed defeat that smaller man, but for those who see what's really going on, it's pretty telling that a victory for him still won't overshadow the bigger picture. That bigger picture is the fact that the only person in this equation that a victory would seal a legacy for would be Pacquaio. A win for Oscar would be another proverbial 'feather in the cap', but it would come against a fighter who probably had no business in the ring with him to begin with. A win for Pacquaio would be a huge story because not only would it add him to the list of future hall-of-famers in their prime that Oscar De La Hoya has failed to defeat, but it would put major emphasis on the fact that he would be the smallest, and also the one with the smallest conceivable chance coming in. Some may argue that point, but it's hard to say that anyone realistically sees Pacquiao having a better shot at defeating Oscar than Trinidad, Mayweather, Mosley, or Hopkins. Each of those men were comparable in size, and potentially better in talent. Pacquaio has so much to gain, and possibly a mental psyche to lose. Oscar has very little to gain, and everything to lose. In the end, it's all about a financial proposition, and I hope that both men can look at themselves and live with the decision when it's all said and done. Truthfully, this fight only benefits them and their pockets. It will do very little to convert that MMA fan who sees that boxing allows 'fantasy fights' as opposed to the best being forced to face the best like we see in their sport. Based on that assessment, I think it's a double edged sword. Great for the fighters, bad for the sport. Now it's time to gage what you think. Let the great debates begin.
(Got Questions or Feedback?: Contact ESB's Vivek Wallace at firstname.lastname@example.org, 954-292-7346, or show some love at www.myspace.com/anonymouslyinvolved)
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