Your De La Hoya-Pacquiao Cheat Sheet

Saturday's fight will be the first must-see boxing event in a long time.

Saturday night's championship fight between Manny Pacquiao and Oscar De La Hoya revolves around the weight they've been working toward from different directions: 147 pounds.

Future Filipino politician Manny Pacquiao is a small fighter who has been eating his way up to to meet De La Hoya. Meanwhile, boxer/"business, man" De La Hoya is a natural midsize fighter who needs to prove that he can still win big. Over the past five years two trends tell the De La Hoya story: His Golden Boy Production company has swelled his coffers enormously even as he's gone without a notable triumph.

Those are the overarching narratives. Here are some between-rounds talking points:

  • It's impossible for American audiences to comprehend Pacquiao's popularity in Philippines, but the most telling anecdote may be the way the nation's crime rate plummets whenever Pacquiao fights.
  • The two fighters are friendly to a fault, but thankfully plenty of smacktalk comes from De-La-Hoya-trainer-turned-Pacquiao-trainer Freddie Roach. De La Hoya fired Roach after his last loss, but the former pugilist has said he knows all of De La Hoya's weaknesses, and that the bigger fighter will "be picking up a suitcase of blues on Saturday."
  • Like Carl Weathers in the first Rocky, De La Hoya always seems to have his attention divided. At this week's press conference, the AP reported that he "spent much of his time at the podium at the MGM Grand hotel-casino reminding people that they could get up to $50 in rebates on the fight if they buy the right kind of beer, tequila and soda."
  • While the fight will have a global audience, it's very much an LA story. De La Hoya remains an heroic son of East LA, with his own recently erected Balboa-style statue in front of the Staples Center. Meanwhile, Roach's Hollywood gym, where Pacquiao has punched for years, serves as "boxing's mecca."
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  • Bodog puts the odds in De La Hoya's favor, but much of the commentariat backs the smaller fighter. As Teddy Atlas told ESPN, "De La Hoya has two legacies, let's be honest here. One, he's made more money than any other fighter in this business. Also, he loses all his big fights."

As we get closer to the fight, look for more folks to shift away from the oddsmakers and toward Pacquiao. A Pacquiao win is a much better story, but at the end of the day, De La Hoya still has physics on his side.

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