Saturday, Dec. 6, 2008 | 2 a.m.
Principals: Oscar De La Hoya (39-5, 30 KOs) vs. Manny Pacquiao (47-3-2, 35 KOs)
Stakes: 147-pound nontitle fight, 12 scheduled rounds
Time/site: Today at the MGM Grand Garden Arena; first bout, 3:15 p.m.; pay-per-view telecast begins 6 p.m.
Tickets: $150-$1,500, mgmgrand.com. (The original allotment officially sold out in less than two hours after going on sale in September. A limited number of seats became available last week after a reconfiguration of the arena.)
Closed circuit: MGM Mirage properties, $60-$100
TV: HBO Pay per view, $54.95
Featured undercard bouts: Victor Ortiz (22-1-1, 17 KOs) vs. Jeffrey Resto (22-2, 13 KOs); 12 rounds, junior welterweights; Juan Manuel Lopez (23-0, 21 KOs) vs. Sergio Medina (33-1, 18 KOs), 12 rounds, super bantamweights
Promoters: Golden Boy Promotions and Top Rank Inc.
Sun Expanded Coverage
1. Weighty matter
Much has been made of Manny Pacquiao’s decision to jump to the welterweight division after winning a world championship in his lone fight at lightweight (135 pounds) to go with his earlier titles at 112, 122 and 130 pounds. Yet Oscar De La Hoya said he expects Pacquiao to be just as dangerous at 147 because he added the weight under a strict conditioning program rather than in a reckless manner. De La Hoya should know: He has collected title belts in weight classes ranging from 130 to 160 pounds in his celebrated pro career, beating 18 current or former world champions along the way. “My motivation has been (Pacquiao’s) skills, his youth, his speed, his power,” De La Hoya said. “My motivation has been his relentlessness inside that ring. That’s what drove me to go to the gym every single day, to wake up in the morning, to feel no pain. That’s why I’m looking forward to this fight.”
2. National hero
De La Hoya reigns as boxing’s most formidable pay-per-view attraction, with 18 career appearances that have generated $626.4 million in pay-per-view revenue, according to HBO Sports. Pacquiao brings his own built-in audience as a living legend in his native Philippines. “When you promote a Manny Pacquiao, it comes with tremendous responsibilities because an entire nation, a nation of 90 million people, is focusing on his every move,” Top Rank boss Bob Arum said. “It is the most important topic of conversation in the Philippines. The highest elected officials are fixated on Manny and on this fight.” Pacquiao, known for his generosity in helping the less fortunate in his homeland, addresses the issue with characteristic modesty: “I’ll always do my best to give the people a good fight.”
3. Go to the tapes
Training under Ignacio “Nacho” Beristain with assistance from Angelo Dundee, De La Hoya emphasized “getting back to basics” in camp. For him, that means working on his hard jab and powerful left hook. Training under Freddie Roach, Pacquiao, a southpaw, studied videotapes of De La Hoya’s fights against left-handers such as Pernell Whitaker and Hector Camacho. “Certainly Manny is much more explosive than somebody like Whitaker, but the tapes showed me that Oscar does have trouble with smaller lefties,” Roach said. “We know Oscar tends to get tired in the later rounds, and my guy is quicker and more active. We’re going to make Oscar fight every second of every round.”
4. The odds
Each fighter has attracted his share of action at the betting windows. After opening as a minus 160 favorite (risk $1.60 to net $1) in Las Vegas, De La Hoya was bet up as high as minus 200 before the line drifted down to minus 185, then to minus 170. The following propositions are available at all Lucky’s race and sports books in the state: Will go 9 1/2 rounds, minus 180; will go 7 1/2 rounds, minus 320; will go 11 1/2 rounds, minus 110. Total knockdowns, over/under 1 1/2; under minus 140, over plus 120. Odds on the exact round of a knockout range from 10-1 (De La Hoya in the 10th or the 11th) to 65-1 (Pacquiao in the first). As always, odds are subject to change.
5. The pick
Look for Pacquiao to set a fast pace, using his speed and foot movement as he attempts to gain the upper hand with body shots while working to avoid De La Hoya’s big left hook. Pacquiao fights in rapid bursts and has power in both fists. Although he is capable of hurt ing De La Hoya, Pacquiao must be cautious if he backs De La Hoya up against the ropes. That’s a good spot for De La Hoya to snap off his left hook. Pacquiao does not have a particularly slick style, however, and his natural aggression in the ring figures to impel some all-out, ferocious exchanges between the two men. If Pacquiao does try to stand and trade punches with his taller, rangier opponent, it won’t be long before De La Hoya cracks him with a left. Then it could turn ugly. As Philippine Rep. Robbie Puno (first district, Antipolo) told the Philippine Daily Inquirer: “De La Hoya will win, unfortunately. He is too tall, too long, and too big for our beloved pambansang kamao (national fist).”
Prediction: De La Hoya by 11th-round knockout.