PACQUIAO DOES UNTHINKABLE, DESTROYS DE LA HOYA
It’s been hours since the ‘Dream Match,’ and it feels so surreal that, for the first time, I’m beginning to think the bout was appropriately titled. Because it feels just like that: a dream.
Tonight, Manny Pacquiao, who was fighting at 130 pounds only nine months ago and 135 pounds six months ago, out boxed, out brawled and outright embarrassed the living legend Oscar De La Hoya to the shock of the boxing world.
So horrendous was the beating that Oscar requested the fight be stopped after the eighth round, quitting on his stool rather than take another three minutes of punishment from his much smaller opponent.
Hours later, I still find myself asking the question I immediately asked when the fight was reaching its inevitable conclusion: How did this happen?
First, I asked how Pacquiao was landing the better punches in round one. Then, I asked how Pacquiao was hurting De La Hoya in round two. By round five, I was asking how De La Hoya had failed to walk through Pacquiao. By round eight, I was wondering how long De La Hoya could continue to take such a thrashing.
How did Pacquiao, nearly 20 pounds removed from his natural fighting weight, completely annihilate De La Hoya, who had never really been dominated by any opponent his entire career?
It wasn’t supposed to happen like this. Oscar De La Hoya had picked the perfect opponent to end his career against: the number one pound-for-pound fighter in the game to catch the casual boxing fan’s attention but in a fight boxing insiders knew he had no chance of winning and Oscar had no chance of losing – not with the advantages De La Hoya possessed. Oscar was four inches taller with a six-inch reach advantage.
Then, there was the weight. Oscar began his career at 130 pounds; Pacquiao, at 105. It never mattered what they weighed in at on Friday or that Pacquiao supposedly weighed a pound more on the day of the fight. That was all to create the image that the fight was fair and thus was going to be competitive in order to generate buys. Boxing fans knew that Oscar was the bigger fighter from day one and know that he still is at this very moment. He completely dwarfed Pacquiao when they squared off in the ring. It was almost laughable – the kind of size disparity you see in professional wrestling, which is what this fight felt like from day one: just a show.
Yet Oscar was never in the fight from the opening bell on. He rallied with a few combinations throughout the fight and maybe stung Pacquiao once or twice. But he never won a round or even came close to it.
In boxing, gifted smaller men move up in weight and win titles. It happens. Recent examples would be Roy Jones Jr. moving up and dominating John Ruiz for a heavyweight title and Bernard Hopkins moving up to Light Heavyweight to dominate Antonio Tarver. But Tarver and Ruiz are not De La Hoya caliber fighters. De La Hoya, for all of the measured advantages he had over Pacquiao, was too skilled to ever lose to a man that much smaller. Somehow, he did. And his place in boxing history needs to be completely reevaluated following this baffling loss.
It wasn’t supposed to happen like this. I kept telling myself that throughout the fight and continue to do so in the wee hours of the morning.
“The best laid plans of mice and men…” was the answer I got.
Well, a mouse just knocked out a man.