The biggest fight of the year so far is being held at the 147lb limit with four-weight world champion Pacquiao, who most recently fought at the 135lb lightweight division, moving up in weight, with De La Hoya moving down to welterweight for the first time in more than seven years.
Some experts have called the bout a mismatch, considering Pacquiao began his career at 106lbs and is jumping two weight classes to meet De La Hoya.
The ‘Golden Boy’ has a four-inch height advantage and clearly be the naturally bigger man in the ring.
Yet De La Hoya (39-5, 30 KOs) still feels like he has something to prove in the twilight of his career.
The 35-year-old is 3-3 in his last six fights, which includes a unanimous decision over Steve Forbes on May 3.
“It’s important I prove to myself that I can beat a young, hungry lion like Manny Pacquiao and the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world,” De La Hoya said. “It helps me to realise I can still do it against the young guns, the hungry lions out there.”
The 29-year-old Pacquiao (47-3-2, 35 KOs) is an aggressive fighter who should have an advantage with his speed to make up for his lack of size.
Pacquiao has won his last eight fights, five coming by knockout, including a ninth-round stoppage of David Diaz on June 28 to capture the WBC lightweight title.
“Twenty years from now, 30, 40 years, I want my name to be at the top level of boxing history,” Pacquiao said. “That’s why it’s really important for me. It’s the biggest fight of my career.”
The fight has interesting sub-plots. Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s trainer, was in De La Hoya’s corner for his loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr in May 2007 and the two have gone back and forth over who was to blame for the defeat.
Meanwhile De La Hoya also felt that Pacquiao reneged on an agreement to join his own Golden Boy Promotions two years ago and is still angered that the Filipino joined rival Top Rank.
“It’s very personal for me,” De La Hoya said. “I don’t want him to be talking about honour and how he honours honour and this and that. He didn’t honour me that night, so I’m not going to honour him (Saturday).”
While bookmakers have De La Hoya a clear favourite to win (1/2), the Filipino’s (13/8) energy, speed and ferocity will cause problems and put victory firmly within his reach.