The Oscar De La Hoya/Manny Pacquaio clash which took place at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on Saturday night was tabbed by promoters, with fingers firmly crossed, “The Dream Match.” Pundits derided the event, foreseeing a blowout win for De La Hoya. The pundits were wrong, screamingly, shockingly so. Manny Pacquiao blew away a shot De La Hoya, and forced the De La Hoya corner to stop the bout after the eight round of severe punishment. Trainer Nacho Beristain asked Oscar if he wanted one more round, or if he wanted to quit. Oscar chose to end the nightmare evening. It was a wise move; nobody could've wanted him to accept more of a beating, as it was apparent that he didn't have a prayer of a chance to turn the sinking ship around.
If you need mathematical proof of the stunning nature of the upset, here it is: Manny outlanded Oscar, 224-585 to 83-402.
Adalaide Byrd, Stan Christodoulu and Dave Moretti were entrusted with judging duties. Tony Weeks got the nod to referee the non-title match.
The Californian De La Hoya (39-6, 30 KOs; age 36) weighed 145 pounds Friday, and 147 several hours before the Saturday clash, while the Filipino Pacquiao (48-3, 35 KOs; age 29 3/4) was 142, and then 147.
In the first, Manny landed a straight left and right hook which got the crowd jazzed. Oscar’s four inch height advantage was noticeable from the start. Oscar scored with a left hook to the body, but lost the round after eating six good straight lefts. Oscar couldn’t land the jab on the slippery Pacquiao. Freddie Roach told Manny to stay off the ropes. “be lively, assert yourself, assert your jab,” Nacho Beristain told Oscar.
In the second, Oscar didn’t invest in the jab. His left eye was a bit puffed, too. He did throw lead rights, but nothing too forceful. Manny took the round, not even close. Beristain said to Oscar, “Jab, jab, jab, throw, don’t walk in looking for him, without punching.” Roach liked what Manny was doing, making Oscar miss, making Oscar reach.
In the third, Oscar was still slow, unsure, until the 1:30 mark, when he launched a hook. But his jab was tentative, because he knew a straight left would be forthcoming. The round was closer, as Oscar got a bit busier. Manny had a 57-32 edge in punches landed through the third.
In the fourth, Manny whacked away with the left lead. His defense was superb, and Oscar’s lack of energy was helping the cause. Frankly, Oscar looked shot, done, over. Could he turn the tide? “Your best defense is to throw punches,” Beristain said. “Don’t doubt yourself. He’s just faster, that’s all. If you don’t do anything, it’s four rounds you lost.” Roach said to Manny, “He can’t handle your speed, son.” I’d say so.
In the fifth, Manny circled and pecked away. Oscar plodded forward, but didn’t pull the trigger. Freddie Roach wasn’t lying, was he? He landed a few hooks, but had to hold Manny with his other hand to get a bead on him. Manny took the round, again. “Much better, much better. Left-right-hook to the body,” Beristain said. “Don’t get lazy and play,” Roach counseled.
In the sixth, Oscar’s jab was useless, as he feared the straight left counter, or lead. The distance between the men closed in this round, but Oscar didn’t manage to exploit that.
In the seventh, Oscar ate shot after shot in the corner. He looked like a sparring partner. His face was puffed and he was in danger of getting stopped. Manny was toying with him. The ring doc came in to see if Oscar wanted to continue. “If you don’t throw punches we’re going to end the fight,” Beristain said. The ref told Oscar the same. Manny landed 47-103 punches in the round.
In the eighth, Oscar didn’t answer as he ate shots. He couldn’t and wouldn’t pull the trigger. Oh, he finally did throw a few shots at the 15 second mark, and Pacquiao clapped. PacMan basted Oscar in the corner to end the round. The doctor asked him if he had a headache, wondering if he was concussed. Beristain told him he was stopping it, if Oscar agreed. Oscar did. The Golden Boy had been slain. All hail the new Golden Boy.
After, Oscar gave Manny total props. Pacquiao told Oscar, "You are still my idol." The gracious ODLH said, "No, you are my idol." The sport's premier earner said he would consider retirement, but would not decide on the spot. Oscar told Larry Merchant that Manny was superior, and refused to blame his cut in weight for the effort. "I'm not shocked," he said, "at this stage when you face a great fighter like Manny, then it's almost expected. I worked hard and trained hard but like I told people in the gym it's a whole different story." Will he fight again? "My heart still wants to fight, that's for sure.. but when your physical doesn't respond what can you do, so I have to be smart, I have to think about my future plans."
Check back for Borges' ringside report.
SPEEDBALL MESSED UP! The three anthems took longer than half the fights on the card. In this short attention span society, this pacing and presentation does not work. Will the power brokers see this? Do they care? After all, their revenue streams are still flowing…But for how much longer? When Oscar leaves, this sport is in deeeep doo doo. Floyd coming back will help, though…Then what?