NEW YORK -- There was a moment Wednesday afternoon, when
"Pacquiao looks big," remarked a fan, pausing briefly before returning to furiously clicking his camera phone. "Which one of them is supposed to be bigger?"
Size -- if it truly matters -- has been one of the central (and perhaps most talked about) storylines of De La Hoya and Pacquiao's scheduled welterweight matchup Dec. 6, where the pre-fight buildup will feature more weight-related conversations than an episode of
Publicly, neither fighter has expressed much concern about changing weight classes. De La Hoya has even promised that if he can't make the 147-pound limit, he will pay Pacquiao $3 million for every pound he is over.
"But that's not going to happen," said De La Hoya. "I'm a welterweight. That's the weight class I feel most comfortable in. I'm not going to have any problem making 147."
De La Hoya even suggested that the additional weight could wind up benefitting Pacquiao.
The reality of the great weight debate is that there are benefits and downsides for both fighters. Based on conversations with boxing insiders, here's a glance at what they could be:
The issue may come with stamina. Make no mistake: De La Hoya will be coming into this fight looking for a knockout. Against Mayweather, De La Hoya won many of the early rounds before fading down the stretch. Being a year older and depleting his body to make a recently unfamiliar weight will probably cost De La Hoya some energy. His punches will be slower and wider and his defense will be vulnerable. He will still have his trademark power.
Pacquiao's trainer, and former De La Hoya corner man,
"I can't believe Freddie would say that," said De La Hoya's trainer,
What the extra padding probably will affect is his speed. Pacquiao is a whirling dervish in the ring -- his punching power as a lightweight is solid, but every fighter who gets in the ring with him is impressed by Pac-Man's extraordinary speed.
"It was his speed," said
Will he lose some of that speed with an extra 10-15 pounds on his body? Probably. Pacquaio can talk all he wants about how comfortable he is with the extra weight, but even a fraction of a second can make a difference with a skilled and powerful fighter like De La Hoya, who will be looking for any opening to throw his left hook. Moreover, Pacquiao has always been a fighter who leads with his chin, a man who likes to go toe-to-toe with his opponents.
"If he does that with Oscar," warns Beristain. "He's going down in the first round."