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Boxing
Saturday's Bottom Line: More Easy Money for Oscar
Lyle Fitzsimmons


By Lyle Fitzsimmons,
Contributing Boxing Editor


Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Maybe it's my low-end tax bracket.

Or my trailer park upbringing.

Whatever the reason, I simply can't see the motivation - outside of preposterously high finances, that is - for Oscar De La Hoya to step in a ring with Manny Pacquiao on Saturday night.

Oh sure, I know he's making a ton of money.

But after a 16-year pro career that's been crammed full of big-ticket events - not to mention endorsement deals and post-Olympic gold medal loot - is a couple more million dollars really worth it?

After all, even if he wins impressively in Las Vegas, aren't the first words out of people's mouths still going to be "So what? He beat up a midget."

And if heaven forbid he loses, aren't those same mouths going to be saying "See, he got beat up by a midget. He wasn't ever worth a damn."

Seems an awful lot to risk for another $20 million, especially to a guy making five figures.

But then again, when all the hype is stripped away... the latter possibility really isn't a possibility.

No matter how dramatic the edits on HBO's 24/7 infomercials or compelling the scripts on the "Dream Match" spots, the bottom line remains the bottom line.

Good junior middleweights - no matter how old they are - don't lose to featherweights, no matter how many times their Kool-Aid drinkers call them the "best pound-for-pound" fighter in the world.

Never have. Never will.

And before you send off that nasty e-mail.. yes, I know boxing history is filled with guys who've climbed multiple rungs on the ladder to win titles in multiple weight classes.

De La Hoya himself is ample evidence, having started his career as a reed-thin junior lightweight before capturing subsequent belts at 135, 140, 147, 154 and, ahem... 160 pounds.

But in those cases, it's been a predictable case of physicality.


Oscar De La Hoya stands just a shade less than 6 feet tall.
Oscar stands just a shade less than 6 feet tall, meaning he was freakishly large for a 130-pounder to begin with and was naturally destined to add jewelry as he added weight.

A similar forecast can be made for Paul Williams who - like Tommy Hearns a generation before - is an abnormally tall 147-pounder who could easily pack on another 35-40 pounds without compromising technique or power.

And don't be surprised if 5-foot-11 Panamanian stringbean Celestino Caballero is knocking out middleweights instead of bantamweights in five years.

But for Pacquiao it's not the same.

The Filipino stands just 5-foot-6 and had never weighed in above 135 pounds, clearly indicating the jump to 147 - or if you prefer, 142 - has little to do with evolution and much with economics.

And it's not such a good idea for him stylistically either.

Though recent times have also seen a pair of athletic 175-pounders - Michael Spinks and Roy Jones Jr. - bridge similar weight gaps to slay much larger heavyweight dragons, both did so with guile, not combat.

Spinks dipped and darted to two wins over an aging Larry Holmes, while a still-prime Jones relied on quick hands and world-class reflexes to get past ponderous 230-pounder John Ruiz.

When push comes to shove for Manny, he won't have that sublime ammunition.

Having thrived on full-throttle aggression and courage to linger in the pocket, Pacquiao has the wrong recipe when facing a foe who'll have every possible advantage in size, strength and power.

Especially when it becomes apparent De La Hoya is no David Diaz.

And if Oscar maintains any residue of the pop that's laid out lifetime 154- pounders like Fernando Vargas and Ricardo Mayorga, what makes Roach think it won't do similar things to a guy who's suffered two stoppage defeats to opponents weighing less than 115?

Contrary to his pre-fight blather... it won't be easy, pretty or successful.

What it will be is convincing, for Oscar - in 10 rounds or less.

Either way, though, I suppose Manny doesn't really have to worry.

Even if he's blown out he can still go back to lightweight, hold onto his belt for a few years and retire to permanent island-based adulation, while Roach slinks back to Wild Card, adds another "L" in the Big Fight column on his resume and claims it wasn't really his idea to begin with.

And Oscar can prolong his farewell tour with a road trip against Ricky Hatton - another promotional gold mine with precious little risk involved - while insisting it's the "motivation" of big events, rather than staring down serious in-ring challenges, that revs his engines.

If you ask me, that's a pretty clever way to write off less reality TV- friendly foes like Margarito and Williams, while simultaneously protecting the "Golden Boy" franchise and still getting the mainstream to buy in at $55 a pop... even in a down economy.

I take it all back, folks. I think I do understand.

Forget world champion. This guy is a friggin' genius.

Lyle Fitzsimmons is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He provides "In The Ring" commentary for Cold Hard Sports on MVN (coldhardsports.com), is a periodic contributor to "The Drive with Dave Smith" on KLAA radio (am830klaa.com) and can be contacted via e-mail at fitzbitz@msn.com.

Jabs, hooks or knockouts, Lyle Fitzsimmons can be reached at fitzbitz@msn.com.

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