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Forget Pacquiao, De La Hoya Needs To Avenge His Losses Or Else Face Margarito

delahoya465224.jpgBy Chet Mills: With still no official word as to who Oscar De La Hoya will be facing for his final fight on December 6th, it seems as if the leading candidate in the running is small lightweight Manny Pacquiao, the 5’6″ Filipino star. Antonio Margarito, fresh off his 10th round TKO of Miguel Cotto, is apparently in the running as well, although most boxing fans doubt that he’ll land the fight with Oscar.

The fight is a bad match-up for Pacquiao, who will be giving up a lot of size to the 5’11” De La Hoya. In the end, the fight is more about making money for each of them than it is about a fight that is truly a competitive one. Even with Pacquiao’s incredible speed and power at the lower weights, he’ll be in the end simply too small to give De La Hoya a run for the money in the fight. For a lot of fans of De La Hoya, this potential fight has been a lightning rod for criticism, as many of them point out the size differences between the two fighters which favors the bigger De La Hoya by a considerable margin. Indeed, De La Hoya has been fighting mostly at 154, whereas up until his last fight against David Diaz, Pacquiao has been fighting as a super featherweight and going quite well at that weight, with the exception of his two fights with Juan Manuel Marquez.

However, for those boxing fans that have no basic problem with De La Hoya fighting an opponent 20 lbs light than him, let me ask you this: Wouldn’t Oscar be much better off forgoing the huge payday against the likes of Pacquiao and instead facing either Antonio Margarito or one of the four fighters that have beaten him, like Shane Mosley, Felix Trinidad, Bernard Hopkins or Floyd Mayweather Jr.

Heck, I’d settle for De La Hoya facing Felix Sturm, whom he beat on questionable circumstances in a 12-round unanimous decision in June 2004. To this day, there are few – very few, in fact – fans that felt that De La Hoya actually deserved to win the fight. A fight like that, as bad a decision as it was, screamed out for a rematch, and it seemed to be the beginning of the decline of De La Hoya’s boxing image. Of course, the fact that he never rematches Trinidad, who beat him by a 12-majority round decision in September 1999, didn’t help him, either.

If this is truly going to be Oscar’s last fight, and not some kind of pseudo-retirement, then he needs to make it count by going out in a grand style, by showing bravery rather than a money-grubbing, low risk fight like Pacquiao. I wouldn’t mind Oscar facing Pacquaio earlier in his career, when he was in need of money, but now after De La Hoya has been millions upon millions of dollars already in boxing. Lord knows, it isn’t as if he’s short of money and needs to make some cash the easy way. Sure, Oscar could always use more money, since he runs promotional company, that’s pretty obvious.

But, to ask his many fans to want to pay their hard-earned money to see him face someone who isn’t even close to being the same size, seems more than a little unfair to them. I’m not sure if he’s taken that into account, nor do I think he fully sees what a fight against the miniature Pacquiao would do to his reputation.

If this is the last time that boxing fans will see Oscar in the ring, it won’t be a positive, no matter how it ends up. If he destroys Pacquiao, then fans well probably say “so what, he should have given his big size advantage.” But if De La Hoya has to struggle against Pacquiao, or if he should he end of losing the fight, Oscar will likely be a laughing stock, bowing out of boxing in shame.

Sure, he’d get a big paycheck, but with all the money he already has, what difference would it make for him? In the end, it wouldn’t help him repair his lost respect among fans, many who would probably see him as a coward, a risk aversive loser, who wanted to take the easy way out and ended up getting embarrassed.

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