Good or Bad?

Former World Flyweight and Featherweight, and current World Jr. Lightweight champion and WBC Lightweight, champion Manny Pacquiao (47-3-2, 35 KO) fighting former World Jr. Welterweight, Welterweight and Jr. Middleweight champion Oscar De La Hoya (39-5, 30 KO) is a terrible idea…and maybe a really good one.

It’s been the buzz in recent days after an initial outbreak of speculation last year. On its face, it looks ridiculous. Oscar De La Hoya is at least four inches taller. He turned pro, and remains, with about twenty more natural pounds. If the fight comes off, it will be hard to ignore what would look a little bit like the pathetic narcissism involved in fifty year old women with fresh silicone and collagen or similarly aged men with receding hairlines and Just for Men jobs.

Last year, Oscar sold the story that he was trying to defeat the number one fighter in the imaginary realm of pound for pound ratings, Floyd Mayweather. He lost but having turned pro only a few pounds apart from Mayweather, size gap wasn’t a worthy complaint.

The story could be sold the same against Pacquiao but, really, how much credit could a ten-year Welterweight and then some get for beating a former Flyweight and, at peak, Featherweight? Pound for pound asks about a world where all things, particularly size, are equal. That’s not even close to true here.

There are great stories from much earlier eras of smaller men providing grand drama with quality larger ones, stories of Joe Walcott stopping Joe Choynski and Fidel La Barba almost defeating Kid Chocolate.

There are also tales of disaster.

Many historians believe Middleweight Carl “Bobo” Olson never recovered from the affects of being caught by the power shots of Archie Moore. The power of Moore left him more vulnerable to power at any weight from that fight forward. Even with a noticeable drop in speed from Oscar, if his left hook cracked through on a Pacquiao who never goes without getting hit, what could the affect be? Oscar has the sort of power that could do lasting damage to Pacquiao.

The drop in speed though is where the coin begins to flip hard. If, and it’s still if, Pacquiao could bring some of his speed up the scale, he might be able to get off first often enough to keep Oscar from full extension on his left hook. And who’s to say, for the money involved, that the risk would not be worth it. Pacquiao is in his thirteenth professional year and closer to his end than most Boxing lovers would want to admit.

The wall is coming and being well compensated to smash into it wouldn’t be all bad for him.

Would it be good for Boxing?

No one can answer that definitively because they haven’t stepped in the ring. That makes the answer lean harder to yes than it does to no. Unlike the threat of Bernard Hopkins sucking the drama out of Kelly Pavlik, there would be little chance of a dull affair between Pacquiao and De La Hoya.

That it could end in violently one-side fashion based on things that have less to do with talent and more to do with ‘too big’ and leave fans feeling a little cheated is a genuine risk, but there’s a hell of a reward too.

Boxing has a great moments deficit in recent years. By great moments, it is not to say that there have not been great fighters or fights. It is to say that singularly defining, transcend the game moments have been lacking. In 1987, Sugar Ray Leonard leaving retirement to decision Marvin Hagler was greatness. In 1996, Evander Holyfield all but got off his deathbed to stop hearts around the globe and Mike Tyson too. Great moment.

In contrast, more recent events like Roy Jones beating John Ruiz and last years “The World Awaits” came off as more than a little bit contrived and manufactured. Given his style, Pacquiao can’t be boring. To beat De La Hoya, he’d have to live a great moment and he’d be fun to watch doing it. A night where Manny Pacquiao jumped another two weight classes to 147 lbs. and defeated the biggest star in the game just couldn’t come off as manufactured. Even if he’s not in his prime, Oscar is still good enough that a man as small as Pacquiao should have no real hope.

Seriously, name all the former Flyweight champions who ever stopped a former Welterweight champion?

That it’s not impossible to envision a scenario where Pacquiao could compete, even win, makes this fight a good idea fraught with a potential for bad outcomes.