Three days before the biggest boxing fight in some time, I predict that Pacquiao will win. I know this comes as a big surprise.
While my reasons don’t come from the typical technical analysis of boxing ability, they are based on practical experience in full-contact escrima competition. Like many things, boxing, too, is inherently a mental game. And this game, as in full contact escrima, is about who can be more ferocious by fight time.
Given this, my reasons are based more on the things I have grown to believe impacts a fighter’s mental preparation, a whole-person analysis, if you like, and they are the following:
1) You cannot manufacture the hunger to win; either you have it or you don’t. De la Hoya is not the boxer who is hungrier to win; he is, after all, the more popular, privileged and spoiled of the two. Pacquiao, on the other hand, has recently found fame and fortune; most of his life, he was driven by a need to save himself from poverty.
Being of humble beginnings myself, I know for a fact that the fire to be somebody, the resilience to overcome, and the hunger to achieve cannot be taken away from a person raised in poverty. For these reasons, when it comes to that decisive moment when stamina and training start to fail, De la Hoya won’t have that additional hunger to stay alive. But Pacquiao will. Let’s not forget which one has the bigger balls to fight the bigger man. Pacquiao is the one who is still chasing a dream.
2) Drama is corrosive and draining. Pacquiao, based on news reports, is focused on nothing but the physical requirements of preparing for the fight. De la Hoya, on the other hand, is engaged in a word war with Freddie Roach and distracted by criticisms from his own supporters and ethnic community about his reasons for agreeing to fight the smaller Pacquiao. This no doubt will impact De la Hoya’s mental health and psychological/emotional fitness going into the fight.
If you cannot fight as a whole person — mind, body, spirit — this will ultimately mess with you while fighting against someone who is 110% solidly intact. Between the two, Pacquiao appears to be the one with his mind and spirit just right.