LOS ANGELES, (Reuters) – Plans for a mega-fight between Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr. have so far come to naught but boxing great Oscar De La Hoya believes the blockbuster long desired by fans will eventually take place.
Eight-times world champion Pacquiao and Mayweather, who has never lost a professional bout, are the two biggest draws in the sport and a showdown between the two would decide the mythical title of the world’s best pound-for-pound fighter.
Mayweather had been expected to meet Filipino southpaw Pacquiao early last year until negotiations collapsed over the American’s demand for random drug testing. Both fighters ended up taking on different opponents.
“I believe that fight will take place,” De La Hoya told Reuters in a telephone interview. “I believe Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao understand that it has to take place.
“They are the best fighters out there and I feel they both really want this fight to happen. When the time comes, people will enjoy a tremendous fight because styles make fights.”
De La Hoya, who held world titles in six different weight classes, predicted that a clash between the aggressive Pacquiao and defensive genius Mayweather would emulate the great battles between Sugar Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns in the 1980s.
Asked to predict the victor should the bout take place, De La Hoya replied: “I see Floyd Mayweather winning and I say that not only as an ex-fighter and a promoter but as a student of the game. “I really love dissecting styles, studying styles and Mayweather has a style to beat anybody. He calculates his punches and his timing. When he is ready to punch with power, he always connects in the right place.
“There is a lot of thinking behind the strategy of winning a fight and Mayweather has to be the best at that.”
De La Hoya, a gold medal winner at the 1992 Olympics, announced his retirement from boxing in April 2009, four months after being stunned by Pacquiao in an eighth-round TKO in a non-title fight in Las Vegas.
He ended his career with a record of 39-6, including 30 knockouts, and has since spent most of his time working as a boxing promoter while continuing to raise money through his various charitable initiatives.
Asked if he had any regrets from his boxing career, De La Hoya replied: “I wouldn’t change anything with my career or my life. Everything always happens for a reason.
“But if there was one fight that I could really change it would have to be the last three rounds when I boxed Felix Trinidad in 1999. For me, that was the biggest fight in non-heavyweight history at the time.
“And that fight was fairly easy for me but over the last three rounds I lost the fight. So if I could change anything from my career, it would have to be those last three rounds.”
De La Hoya, a keen amateur golfer, said he still missed the thrill of competing in the ring.
“Competitive boxing has been my life,” he added. “I started boxing when I was four so it’s difficult to cope with the whole retirement thing and not putting on the gloves for the rest of my life.
“But I will tell you one thing. When I get out on that golf course and I make a birdie or I hit a beautiful shot, that adrenaline rush that I get really does make up for any left hook that I can throw inside that ring.”
While speaking to Reuters, De La Hoya announced his move to link up as a business partner with the Mexican tequila brand, Tres Generaciones.
“I come from a third generation of fighters because my grandfather and my father also fought. My family are consumers of tequila so … it was just a natural fit.”