I won't go into a whole spiel about why I'm finding all of this "it's personal!" stuff more than a smidge cornball, because I did that a few days ago. Yes, Scott, we get it, it's totally not personal at all.
What I want to talk more about is the fact that I don't think this fight -- still in "potential" stages -- is being met with quite the favor and interest that Oscar, Schaefer, Arum, etc., probably thought they were going to get.
They had to know there'd be SOME backlash, of course. I don't think any of these guys are dumb or even less than superb businessmen. They knew there'd be a portion of hardcore fans that would question the legitimacy of de la Hoya fighting Pacquiao, who is one fight into a career at 135 pounds.
What are we really talking about here? Oscar's got four inches of height on Manny, obviously has the bigger frame, and has been fighting at 150 pounds or higher since 2001.
I do think Manny could beat Oscar, simply because I don't think Oscar's all that good anymore after watching that Forbes fight, where he took on a similarly undersized guy (Forbes is only an inch taller than Manny) that can't punch.
I also don't share the concern some do about Manny getting hurt, no more than it's a concern for every fighter in every fight. Oscar doesn't punch worth a crap anymore, really. The left hook that was once his trademark is gone, he doesn't fight aggressively (Freddie Roach thinks he's gun-shy in his old age), and the fire just isn't there.
The last time Oscar knocked someone out was Ricardo Mayorga, a fight that really DID become personal for de la Hoya, and it was also Mayorga, whose chin is fine but lack of boxing skills cause him to get hit with very clean shots very frequently. Before that it was Yori Boy Campas in 2003.
Still, it feels like there are a lot of people that just are not buying this fight on paper and have no interest in seeing what they perceive as a massive physical mismatch. They might well be right. Faded or not, Oscar IS much bigger than Manny.
I think the other thing that's bothering some folks -- and I'd be lying if I said it didn't sort of gnaw at me, too -- is that this is supposedly the very final fight of Oscar de la Hoya's career, and it would feel like another exhibition circuit-style matchup. A fight that doesn't really mean a whole lot, has an arguably obvious outcome, and seems to exist merely so casual fans can say, "Hey, I watched the Oscar fight!" like they might say, "Hey, I watched the Super Bowl!" even though they haven't followed football in years and wonder if Joe Montana still plays for the 49ers.
There's also the fact that Margarito Fever is sweeping the boxing community, and that Oscar said the winner of Cotto-Margarito would get serious consideration as his final opponent. What it appears he meant to say is, "I think Cotto's going to win, and I'd fight him," because apparently Margarito just does not enter Oscar's mind, period, and his lame excuse of not wanting to fight another Mexican isn't being bought by anyone, either. Yeah, Mexican fans would probably root heavily for Margarito. Would a faction of the Mexican audience not rooting for Oscar be anything new for him? How did that idea factor in when he twice embarrassed an old Julio Cesar Chavez?
Anyway, it really does look like this is going to be the fight we get. I'm wondering if this initial backlash might make Oscar pen-shy in the boardroom to go along with gun-shy in the ring, though. I don't think he wants to go out with people thinking his last fight was a farce. Whatever else he is, he's a very proud man.