Will Manny Pacquiao knock Oscar De La Hoya out of the Hall of Fame?

October 27, 2008

It’s a legitimate question.

This week I ran into my friend, “Richie from Levittown,” who is a really knowledgeable boxing guy when he’s not obsessing over soccer. I asked him, “Does Manny have a chance against Oscar?”

He said, “He shouldn’t, but he does.”

It was a brilliant answer because it’s so true. Usually, a good big man beats a good little man. There have been some exceptions, but that rule has generally held true for more than 100 years of boxing. It basically means that with all things equal — talent, desire, conditioning — the larger fighter will beat the smaller fighter. Pacquiao has far too much weight to make up in this fight. On paper, he should lose.

But here’s the catch. Will all things be equal? Will Manny have the edge when it comes to conditioning and desire? In the opinion of this corner, De La Hoya’s major flaw is his inability to close the show.

There was a time when Oscar was among the best at finishing off an opponent. He still is. But there is a major difference between finishing off a wounded fighter and maintaining your skill and energy level long enough to win a close decision.

Oscar was ahead against Felix Trinidad, Bernard Hopkins, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Sugar Shane Mosley. He lost each of those fights. Now, it can be argued that he was the victim of shoddy judging against Trinidad and Mosley, but the reality is, Oscar has not won a meanigful fight since Fernarndo Vargas (2002) and before that, Ike Quartey (1999).

De La Hoya deserves credit for carrying the sport of boxing through one of its darkest periods. He also deserves credit fight fighting the biggest names of his generation. But if he wakes up a loser on Dec. 7, we will have to start wondering if he is worthy of hall-of-fame consideration.

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