Dec 26, 2008

Happy boxing day : Post #1 Pacman Fever

Today is the official day to celebrate all things boxing. That being said, I know I'm a few weeks past due, but lets talk about Manny Pacquiao pretty much embarassing the Fool's Golden Boy, Oscar De la Hoya.

For the longest of time, I've heard people constantly wish to see Oscar De la Hoya get his ass kicked. Well they finally got their wish and I don't think I've ever seen a room more confused.

First of all there was the pre-fight hype courtesy of the marketing behemoth known as 24/7 a series that covers the training camps and lives of the boxers leading up to a fight. For the first time in a long time, Oscar was depicted as the bad guy. he's the brawler, the bigger man, the elite champion of six weight classes and yadda yadda yadda. Fine. Manny was depicted as the likeable cat that he is. A fighter first and a businessman last, whereas Oscar is fighting to be more a fighter than a promoter. With manny, it's like a computer game, click and fight, while Oscar De la Hoya is a spread sheet of a fighter, taking into account millions of things that shouldn't be in a fighter's head to begin with.

After all the bullshit was said and done, you had to take into account three areas of how these fighters sized up regarding: physical assets, boxing styles and experience. All three were equally important, all three had stories to tell.

First off, physical assets. The main things people focused on were weight and height, and rightfully so. Everyone knew that Oscar was the taller fighter, but what no one could have predicted was that he'd be so efficient in losing weight that he'd be outweighed by a pound and a half going into the fight. That's right, De la Hoya, who has fought at 154 or higher the last decade and a half, weighed less than the kid that was jumping two weight classes just to set up the most hyped fight of the year. When I saw this I initially thought that it meant that Oscar was just in the best shape of his life. When I saw him though, I have to admit that Oscar did not look comfortable with his weight at all. You would have thought he would have been quicker, but that was not the case, or at least Manny made it look like he was going ultra slow in comparison. Second off, there's the height. Conventional boxing wisdom often gives the taller fighter the edge in odds simply because if they fight tall, they will stay out of the reach of the other boxer. See Vitali Klitscko or Lennox Lewis to see what fighting tall is all about. the problem is that Oscar has a tendency to bend down and kind of stalk his opponent wolverine style. The important thing to note here is that even with this evident flaw, I can't remember anyone landing a thunderous uppercut ever, which is just to show that De la Hoya wasn't completely careless in his stance. The important thing here though is that any advantage he had against Manny, he negated by at least two inches by hunching. Also of note, I think Oscar has always had a stance that's a bit squared up, but when you fight coventional fighters, all this does is invite the opponent to throw and get countered by one of boxing's best left hooks. The problem is that against a south paw, left hooks aren't as effective most times and you need to mix things up or you're not going to get much done. Next physical asset to take into account is the size of the fist. I'm not exactly sure how they're measured, but I do know that I've always thought Oscar looks like he has small hands while Manny has always had big hands. Turns out Oscar's fists measure 9 inches vs Pacquiao's 10 inch fist. You wouldn't think this matters much, but it does. Manny has always been considered a huge puncher in every weight class he's rightfully participated in (any other elite 147 pounder should give Manny more problems than Oscar). Manny has either knocked down or knocked out most of his opponents while De la Hoya has had a hard time putting any sort of dent into anyone who is not as static a target as Ricardo Mayorga or as inviting as Fernando Vargas after his demolishing at the hands of Tito Trinidad. The important thing here is that everyone including myself was thinking that Oscar would be the stronger fighter and we couldn't have been more dooped. Also of note, I've always considered fighters with strong legs to be strong punchers. It isn't a universal rule since some lankey guys like Tommy Hearns, Paul Williams, Tito Trinidad and even Oscar have all shown knockout power without having strong legs, but I've noticed that many guys with strong legs are just ballistic. Manny is not the exception since his legs look like Popey's forearms.

Second off, fighting styles. In the most basic aspect of this matchup you have a conventional stance fighter (left foot forward, typically a right handed puncher) versus a south paw fighter (right foot forward, power hand is usually the left hand). Because of the angle of the opposing fighters three things happen a lot: clash of heads, feets get tangled, clinches occur. They all occur because when you have two conventional or two south paw fighters, they both fit well when fighting because they aren't mirror reflections of each other. When you have fighters of both stances fighting you have clashing lead feet and lead hands. What it does offer though, is new angles to connect punches. When you have two fighters of the same type fighting, the best weapons are normally combinations that include hook punches somewhere in the mix because they're trying to time the other person's punches to punch over or around. In the case of opposing styles, the best weapons at their disposal are straight shots to the body and head. What's wrong with this matchup now? Pretty simple. If you've seen a Manny Pacquiao fight, you've seen his money shot is the straight left hand. It's quick, hard, accurate and more importantly, readily available to Manny since most people he faces aren't lefty. De la Hoya on the other hand has always been considered the owner of one of boxing's best left hooks... his right hand though is nowhere near as notorious or effective for that matter. What this means is that while Manny is primed to have his money shot be readily available, Oscar is screwed. Next to take into account is that Oscar is often times a counter puncher, looking for the opportunity to land a perfect counter left hook to the head and body. So what happens when he faces a south paw that is quick on his feet? Bad news.

Lastly, there is the experience factor to take into account. Just in case you were wondering, Oscar De la Hoya does ni fact has the highest PPV buys in existence and has earned more money than you can imagine, generating billions in overall revenue. He's faced some really great fighters to be sure, but contrary to popular belief, I think he was babied for many of his fights and when he wasn't, he either had an excellent fight or lost (the exceptions are both Mosley fights which I think were not only highly competitive, but that Oscar was the winner of both). With Hopkins he got knocked out by a body shot that didn't look as bad as a Cotto left hook. True, I didn't take the punch, but it didn't look super crunch worthy. Against Mayorga, Ricardo had no shot and the result was obvious from the get go, knockout. Before that was Vargas, who I thought was going to win only to be knocked out. Many other of his notable fights were against Julio Cesar Chaves way past Chaves' prime or Arturo Gatti when Gatti was supremely outmatched. Last year he fought with Floyd Mayweather and honestly, he was extremely close at coming away with a victory and I think in a rematch he would have taken a win. That's more to discredit Floyd than to credit Oscar, but still, I hadn't been impressed by most of his matches for quite some time, not to take anything away from his well earned credits and accolades. What I do want to say is that while Oscar has been having babied, easy, or mismatched fights or dumb losses for some time, Manny Pacquiao has been knocking names down from the pound for pound list for years. He's done away with legends like Barrera twice (once by TKO, once by decision) and Erik Morales (twice by TKO). HE's jumped more weight classes than you can shake a stick at and still he's effective and dangerous and incredible to see in action. He's walked the walk and let other people do the talking. He even took Juan Manuel Marquez to the limit (sorry, but both fights I saw Marquez winning and I know Manny was given the benefit of the doubt for being more marketable and "better for the sport". Call me a dick.) What does this mean? Simple. Manny has faced the better opposition and taken to the brink and back only to win against the highest level of boxers the sport has to offer. Oscar hasn't.

So going into the fight, I was rooting for Manny right? Yes and no. I wanted Manny to win but didn't think he was going to pull it off and much less make Oscar quit on his stool. From the first round forth though, it was obvious only two people really knew what was going to happen. Manny Pacquiao and Freddy Roach. No one else gave the Philipino sensation his due credit and odds being 8 to 1 are a joke in hindsight. Seriously, how bad do you have to get your ass kicked to make people think that the fight is bought? Watch the fight and that's how bad.

Manny beat Oscar to the punch 99% of the time. Nuff said. What should be cleared up though is that this happened on about 500 occasions with as many connects for Manny. And Oscar? Well he didn't have much of an answer to anything Pacman did. It got to the point where it looked sad because Manny made Oscar look like a shot fighter, and that's never a good thing to watch.

Leading up to the fight, Oscar said he really thought he had a perfect fight left in him. A career defining swan song to go out on top and laced in Gold. What he didn't know though is that it was a perfect fight, just not for him. For now though, there are a couple of questions to serve up:

Does Oscar have one more fight left in him? I don't know. Conventional wisdom says he's done. Then again, conventional wisdom had him beating Manny so there goes my theory.

What does Manny Pacquiao do for an encore? Simple. Keep being Manny Pacquiao and destroying anything he comes in contact with, if only long enough for him to have his third fight with Marquez, so Juan Manuel can get a victory and set up the ultimate rubber match. For now though, it seems he'll fight Ricky Hatton come next spring or summer and all I can say is that Ricky better get ready for a ride through hell.

What does Oscar do now? Well if you're looking for a fight that sparks interest, gets people buying Pay Per Views and has a great story to it, there's only one option.

De la Hoya Vs Trinidad II...

We'll see what happens. For now though.



Me said...

OOOOOOH DUDE. Thank you. I have been waiting for this post!!!!!!! At last, boxing material to read!!!!

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