Manny to fight Oscar

PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — THE showdown many dismissed earlier as a dream fight is now about to become a reality.

Boxing superstars Manny Pacquiao and Oscar dela Hoya are finally making their December 6 bout happen in what could go down as the richest and most highly-anticipated slugfest in the long and colorful history of prize fighting.

In an official statement, the great Filipino boxer, considered the best fighter in the world today, pound-for-pound, confirmed his ring date with dela Hoya, which he describes as the ‘toughest test in my boxing career because of the reach and height advantage of my esteemed opponent aside from his great boxing skills.’

“I have agreed in principle to accept the December 6 fight against Oscar dela Hoya,” part of the statement sent to the press.

“This fight however, will not be a walk in the park for dela Hoya. The boxing fans will see the same fire and intensity they have witnessed in my previous fights. I will frustrate the desire of dela Hoya to avenge the defeats of the great Mexican boxers who lost to me. I am dedicating this forthcoming fight to my countrymen and all the boxing fans all over the world.”

The 12-round fight, easily one of the biggest in years, is expected to take place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada. Both fighters will be coming in at a catch weight of 147 pounds and are going to use an eight-ounce gloves.

Golden Boy Promotions, which dela Hoya heads, refused to admit if a deal has been in place, although the promotional outfit already sent out an earlier advisory regarding a media teleconference to be hosted by the 35-year-old, six-time world champion on Thursday.

Boxing’s grand old man Bob Arum, whose Top Rank Promotions holds the right on Pacquiao, is also mum about the matter, and would rather let dela Hoya make the formal announcement.

“I made a commitment that I wouldn’t say anything and that tomorrow there would be an announcement. I’m not allowed to make any comments. Everything will be clear on Thursday,” said Harvard-schooled boxing promoter.

Richard Schaefer, dela Hoya’s trusted man at GB Promotions, is not verifying either if an agreement had been reached, although unlike Arum, the Golden Boy CEO gave a slight hint on the possibility of the two biggest names in boxing today coming to a collision later this year.

“Last week the deal was 90 percent dead, but we were able to revive it. The fact that it has been so quiet is a good sign,” said Schaefer in an ESPN interview in Mexico where he is on a business trip with dela Hoya.

The discrepancy in height and weight which Pacquiao mentioned were the very issues raised when HBO resident boxing man Larry Merchant first broached up the idea to ESPN’s Dan Rafael more than a year ago.

“It’s a fantasy fight,” GB Promotions vice-president Eric Gomez said when he first heard about the proposal.

A year after, however, the match up began to take shape after undefeated Floyd ‘Pretty Boy’ Mayweather decided to retire, formally shelving their supposed rematch that should served as dela Hoya’s final career fight.

After finally coming to terms on the maximum catch weight and the size of globes, talks bogged down when the two sides failed to come up with an agreeable term on the split of revenue, which is expected to reach as high as $100 million and surpassed the record pay-per-view sales generated by the Mayweather-dela Hoya fight a year ago.

De La Hoya (39-5, 30 KOs) has fought at 150 pounds or more for each of his last nine fights and has not been at 147 since a fifth-round technical knockout victory over Arturo Gatti on March 24, 2001.

Pacquiao (47-3-2, 35 KOs) has won belts in five different weight classes but has never fought above 135 pounds.

The 29-year-old Filipino has won his last seven fights, the most was a ninth round knockout of David Diaz on June 28 to capture the World Boxing Council (WBC) lightweight title.

De La Hoya is 3-3 in his last six fights. He defeated Steve Forbes via a unanimous decision on May 3.