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Over the last few weeks, much has been written about De La Hoya taking a fight he (at least figuratively) can't win. And much of what has been written has been true.
If De La Hoya wins by knockout on Saturday night at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas (HBO PPV, 9 p.m. ET), the "Golden Boy" will have bullied an undersized man who jumped two weight classes (three if you consider Pacquiao has one career fight as a lightweight) to face him. If De La Hoya wins by decision, he'll be the
But there is the unthinkable: What
Disregard all the rhetoric you have read in every newspaper or Web site and all you may have heard from TV talking heads. Yes, Pacquiao is a great fighter. His presence at the top of every reputable pound-for-pound list validates that. And yes, Pacquiao does have an advantage with
But none of that matters because, quite frankly, Pacquiao has no business being in this fight. He is no Mayweather, a slick defensive fighter whose brilliant counterpunching befuddled De La Hoya in the later rounds. This is Pacquiao, a straight-ahead, bull-rushing pugilist who leads with his chin and frequently takes a beating on it. That chin is already considered suspect: Pacquiao has been KO'd twice in his career and last March was battered by
"You don't put somebody in a fight that you believe he can't win and your matchmakers believe he can't win just for money," said Pacquiao's promoter,
If Arum's argument holds any truth, if Pacquiao outworks De La Hoya for 12 rounds, if Oscar can't land the knockout punch and if melting down to 147-pounds -- a weight De La Hoya has not fought at since 2001 -- has a more profound impact on him than we think, then the Golden Boy can kiss the rest of his career goodbye.
With a loss on Saturday, De La Hoya would fall to a lackluster 3-4 in his past seven fights. His wins will have come against
De La Hoya can flash that 1,000-watt smile all day and build himself up on HBO reality shows all night, but no serious boxing fan will ever take him seriously if he loses to Pacquiao.
Why should they? If a defeated De La Hoya continues to fight, who would he challenge? Welterweights
Would you pay $54.95 to see that?
It would be like ponying up to see
The Lewis fight was followed by an uninspired win over
Williams' knock-out of Iron Mike turned in approximately 150,000 pay-per-view buys, while the fight with McBride drew an estimated 280,000 buys, at most. Pre-Lewis -- when he had no trouble topping 1 million buys in the late 1990s -- Tyson was
De La Hoya's future could easily follow that path. A loss, especially a bad one, will turn away even some of the most ardent De La Hoya supporters.
Including this one.