Golden Boy not so golden |

Golden Boy not so golden

Mike Houser
Nevada Appeal Sports Writer

There are only three irrefutable rules to worldwide military conquest: Never invade Russia, China or the United States.

In the world of professional boxing, the corollary would be to never engage in a contest in which there is no chance of ending up the winner.

Oscar De La Hoya will find out that he’s in such a no-win situation either during or following his 12-round bout with Manny Pacquiao on Saturday. The bout, which will be held at 147 pounds, will be televised from the MGM Grand, in Las Vegas, on HBO Pay Per View at 6 p.m.

That the 35-year-old De La Hoya isn’t already aware of his predicament has nothing to do with common sense; it’s got everything to do with dollars and cents, which seem to matter more to the already impossibly rich “Golden Boy” than his reputation and sense of honor.

If the 35-year-old De La Hoya had as much interest in his legacy as he does accruing his bank account, he’d challenge himself by facing welterweight champion Antonio Margarito, welterweight/junior middleweight/middleweight Paul Williams, middleweight champ Kelly Pavlik or meet unbeaten light heavyweight king Joe Calzaghe at 168 pounds.

But instead De La Hoya, 39-5 with 30 knockouts, deigns to step in the ring against the fearless but outsized Pacquiao, 47-3-2 (35), who is moving up from 135 pounds to accommodate his opponent.

And De La Hoya was even gracious enough to accept 67 percent of the purse, which will be greatly inflated by the real possibility that the fight will surpass the record 2.15 million buys and $120 million in PPV revenue generated by De La Hoya-Floyd Mayweather Jr. on May 5, 2007.

Befitting his 5-foot-6 stature, the 29-year-old Pacquiao, of General Santos City, The Philippines, agreed to accept the smaller 33-percent split. Pacquiao, it seems, is more motivated in making history, upholding his nation’s honor and burnishing his already sterling reputation than he is in expanding his stock portfolio.

Already a former six-division titlist (at 130, 135, 140, 147, 154 and 160 pounds), De La Hoya deserves no credit for choosing to battle a boxer who began his professional boxing career at 106 pounds.

Sure Pacquiao has won titles at 112, 122, 130 and 135 pounds, but even his prodigious punching power shouldn’t be expected to have the same devastating effect on his 5-foot-10 1/2 opponent.

And in addition to adding a truckload of money to his coffers, that is exactly what De La Hoya is banking on. He rightfully sees no logical reason to lose to Pacquiao.

Maybe taking the path of least resistance and his safety-first model is a winning strategy in the world of business, but in the world of boxing, where the only true currency is one’s courage and willingness to defy the odds, De La Hoya’s approach is a bust.

De La Hoya has always hand-picked his opponents when he perceives they are on the downside of their career or when he sees an exploitable flaw.

Pacquiao, on the other hand, has consistently chosen the direct approach ” the more dangerous his opponent, the better. And this is why De La Hoya’s most prized fan base ” the old school Mexican boxing fans ” have turned their backs on him throughout his career and have now taken the Fightin’ Filipino into their fold. They prefer warriors to briefcase-toting opportunists.

This is precisely why De La Hoya has already lost the fight, whether his hand is raised in victory after the fight or not.

If “The Golden Boy” destroys the “Pac-Man,” fans will just see a bigger man beating up a smaller man, and nobody likes a bully.

Nobody in his right mind will deny De La Hoya is a great fighter, but as such he should easily handle Pacquiao. De La Hoya is so much the larger fighter that he should be able to do what the naturally heavier Marvin Hagler did to Thomas Hearns in 1985 and relentlessly carry the fight to his opponent until his foe is down on the canvas.

De La Hoya should be able to walk through Pacquiao’s best punches to deliver his own bombs, ruthlessly imposing his will until the fight is stopped. That’s what a warrior would do.

But the only true warrior in the ring on Saturday will be Pacquiao.

What goes around, comes around, and De La Hoya will be the victim of his own karma.

De La Hoya, who twice feasted on a past-his-prime Julio Cesar Chavez, is ironically now on the downside of his own career. That much was obvious when in his last carefully picked fight, he couldn’t blow out another naturally smaller fighter in a win against Stevie Forbes, who couldn’t punch hard enough to break an egg, but managed to the tarnish the face of “The Golden Boy.”

De La Hoya pushes his punches now and does not rattle off the same sharp blows that stopped a ‘roided-out Fernando Vargas in 2002.

Pacquiao, on the other hand, has tremendous snap on his shots. He is the much quicker fighter and should not only be able to land his own shots, but have the ability to see De La Hoya’s coming and avoid them as well.

As he showed in his wicked stoppage of former WBC lightweight titlist David Diaz, Pacquiao is capable of commanding the gap, moving in and out of range with great footwork. He should also be able to use his uppercut to take advantage of De La Hoya’s tendency of “fighting short” by leaning forward instead of standing tall.

There are two main questions: Can Pacquiao hurt De La Hoya with his power punches and will his southpaw stance throw off his opponent out of sync?

Even if he can’t knock De La Hoya out cold, “Pac-Man” should be able to bust up his bigger opponent’s tender, aging face. And though he’s not a boxer like fellow lefties Pernell Whitaker and Felix Sturm ” who gave “The Golden Boy” fits ” Pacquiao’s underrated footwork and punches from all angles should conspire to make it a rough night for De La Hoya.

I should have my head examined for making this prediction, but I’m a firm believer in that time reveals truth. And I believe the truth is it’s the right time for Pacquiao to pull off a 12-round split-decision upset.

If military history has taught the world nothing else, it’s to always expect the unexpected.