WHO'S  AFRAID  OF  OSCAR?

MANILA, JULY 31, 2008
(STAR) SPORTING CHANCE By Joaquin M. Henson - Lawyer and TV talk show host Romy Macalintal, a dyed-in-the-wool boxing aficionado, texted the other day his comments on a possible Manny Pacquiao-Oscar De la Hoya fight.

Pacquiao is now in Las Vegas negotiating with the Golden Boy on a big money showdown in December. On the verge of retirement, De la Hoya is eager to package a blockbuster farewell outing and with Floyd Mayweather out to pasture, the natural option is to take on the world’s best pound-for-pound fighter today.

For De la Hoya, fighting the much smaller Pacquiao shouldn’t be a scary proposition. He’ll enter the ring with at least a 10-pound weight advantage. No matter how many pounds Pacquiao puts on, he’ll never be able to come close to de la Hoya’s weight.

Worse, Pacquiao will be proportionately slower with every pound he gains. That means his speed won’t be much of a factor in the fight. Clearly, Pacquiao will need to be quick against De la Hoya to neutralize the Golden Boy’s length and sharp combinations.

Because he’s bigger, De la Hoya should be theoretically able to withstand the impact of Pacquiao’s hardest blows more than a David Diaz who campaigns two weight categories lower. On the other hand, it’s a question mark if Pacquiao can take De la Hoya’s best shots because of the weight difference.

Still, Macalintal said he’s not worried.

“Manny knows best if he’s ready to slug it out with Oscar,” said Macalintal. “The claim of (Rod) Nazario that it’s a dangerous fight for Manny brings to mind the same concern aired by a California boxing official when Muhammad Ali, then known as Cassius Clay, was lined up against then-reigning heavyweight champion Sonny Liston in 1963.

“Sol Silverman, chairman of the California committee on safeguards for professional boxing, said that the fight was ‘a dangerous mismatch as it would result in grave injury to Clay.’ (Manila Times – Nov. 7, 1963, part of my clippings on Ali).

“But as we all know, Ali KOd Liston in the 7th round when he was a 7-to-1 underdog. Ali, 22 and at 215 pounds, used his speed and powerful punches against an older and heavier Liston who was 29 at 220 pounds. With De la Hoya reducing his weight and at 35, he’d be slower and a younger Manny, 29, a disciplined fighter when training and with his incredible speed and magnificent footwork, could take him easily.

“With all our prayers and support, we look forward to seeing Manny winning over De la Hoya.”

* * *

International matchmaker Jun Sarreal agreed with Macalintal’s assessment. He said the age factor will be critical.

“When you’re De la Hoya’s age as a fighter, your bones are already matured and as a result, you’re slower,” said Sarreal. “That’s how it was with Gabriel (Elorde, the late world junior lightweight champion who was his brother-in-law). Manny’s only 29. He’s still growing. If Manny were 33 or more, it would be a different story. But he’s younger than De la Hoya and smart. He won’t fight De la Hoya ‘sabayan.’ He’ll use his mobility to get away from his range.”

Sarreal said he expects “a great fight” with neither fighter getting embarrassed. “It will be competitive,” he continued. “Odds should be 50-50. They’ll probably agree to fight at a catchweight limit of 147 with Manny coming in at 142 or 143. Definitely, De la Hoya will be slower because he’s older and bigger.”

Sarreal commended Top Rank’s Bob Arum for pushing the fight.

“I think Bob must be credited for trying to make this happen,” said Sarreal. “He’s probably the only one who can pull it off. He understands what will be the impact at the box office with De la Hoya bringing in the Mexican and American fans. Manny has the reputation of being a Mexican tormentor so De la Hoya will be out for revenge. That would be an exciting angle for the fight.”

Pacquiao was set to battle either Edwin Valero or Humberto Soto before the year ends until trainer Freddie Roach provoked De la Hoya by claiming the Golden Boy could no longer pull the trigger. De la Hoya lashed out at Roach for belittling his skills and promptly, declared himself available for Pacquiao.

Arum castigated Roach for his verbal assault on De la Hoya, saying it might put a crimp on negotiations for the fight. But in the end, even Arum couldn’t complain as an angry De la Hoya took it as a dare to accept the match.

Roach was paid $1 million for a six-week job to train De la Hoya for Mayweather last year. De la Hoya lost a disputed decision then came back with Mayweather’s father in his corner to outpoint Steve Forbes in his latest bout.y

Postscript: Last July 24, Macalintal welcomed a surprise guest in his Las Piñas home. Manny Pacquiao had lunch with Macalintal, his siblings, 87-year-old mother Aling Bening and 90-year-old mother-in-law Aling Rosing Gamboa. It was Macalintal’s 61st birthday. “What was to be a simple family affair became a grand bonanza with the world champ even playing the guitar and singing,” said Macalintal. “Manny stayed two hours to the delight of my relatives who never stopped having photo ops with him. After we took photos, Manny approached my mother and mother-in-law and asked if he could take a picture with them. We were so stunned emotionally. I was almost in tears for it took Manny himself to remind us of our elders on such a very important occasion. How could I forget my mom? It was a lesson I will never forget. A lesson that we can all learn direct from Manny’s heart.”


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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