For a few hours, at least.
The streets and malls, usually crowded on a weekend nearing Christmas, was eerily serene and devoid of the usual hordes. It was like Holy Week, but with even less people. Everyone was indoors or clustered around radios, waiting for The Fight to begin. The perfect time to shop, my wife and daughter thought, correctly, while I desperately looked around for a resto or sports bar to catch the action. I just followed the roar of the crowd, just in time to catch the last two rounds, with Pacquiao pummeling a hapless De La Hoya, who looked just about ready to buckle. He still had some fight left in him, but being the level-headed businessman that he is, saw no gain in prolonging the agony. He threw in the towel just before the start of the ninth round, to the delirious joy of the company at Friday’s, everyone high-fiving and toasting the masterful submission of the Golden Boy orchestrated by Manny Pacquiao and his team.
I was especially pleased, having predicted a late round (9-12) knockout for Pacquiao. I came pretty close since Oscar De La Hoya, his left eye nearly closed shut by Manny’s relentless right hooks, finished the eighth round but did not have the heart to go the distance. He had the good sense to quit though, and deserves credit for doing the right thing, which is being man enough to admit when you’re beat.
All Golden Boys lose their glow, and Oscar knew this. But he miscalculated and believed it wasn’t yet his time to ride off into the sunset. And he thought, cynically, that this would be an easy payday. Manny Pacquiao was smaller, shorter and a slugger, no match for a bigger, heavier, finesse fighter like the Golden Boy. He had the reach, he had the speed, he had cunning and artfulness to punish the brawler from the Philippines. And many others thought so too, so much so that Pacman came in a 2-1 underdog.
And Oscar had the guile and the moxie to demand almost three times the purse Manny was to get. No matter. He was the bigger draw and knew it. All Manny wanted was a shot at a legend. They both got more than they bargained for.
With this convincing win, Manny’s stock has risen dramatically, having dispatched a boxing icon, and he can dictate who, and when, he wants to fight next. And for how much. He has also assured himself of a place in the pantheon of boxing greats.
As for De La Hoya, this fight would likely be his swan song, an ignoble end to one of the most storied boxing careers of the past two decades. It was a classic story of hubris and deep down in his heart, Oscar knew it would end badly for him. Which explains why he looked so grim in the weeks leading up to the fight. Manny Pacquiao was about to escort him to the exit.
Kevin Iole writes about the dawn of the Pacquiao era.
Pacquiao displayed every punch in the arsenal, raking the Golden Boy with straight lefts that nearly closed De La Hoyaâ€™s left eye and stunning him with hooks, jabs and uppercuts.
It was so savage of a beating that it was hard not to feel sorry for De La Hoya. At the end of the bout, a thoroughly beaten De La Hoya trudged across the ring and met his one-time trainer, Freddie Roach.
â€œYouâ€™re right,â€ De La Hoya said to Roach, who had prepared Pacquiao brilliantly. â€œI donâ€™t have it any more.â€
Pacquiao was never threatened by De La Hoyaâ€™s vaunted left hook, negating De La Hoyaâ€™s best chance of winning the fight.
It was something Roach had worked tirelessly on in the gym and something he unwaveringly told the world that Pacquiao would do.
â€œTaking the left hand away was a key,â€ Roach said. â€œWe took Oscarâ€™s left hand away from him and once we did that, the fight was over.â€
Pacquiao called De La Hoya his idol and said he was honored to have had the opportunity to face him. But he didnâ€™t spare his idol any pain, working his plan like a hired gun.
â€œIt was nothing personal,â€ Pacquiao said. â€œI just came to do my job.â€
This was the boxing rite of passage that has become all too familiar over the years. It happened to Joe Louis against Rocky Marciano, to Muhammad Ali against Larry Holmes and to Julio Cesar Chavez against De La Hoya.
A younger, faster and better man snuffed out the star of one of the gameâ€™s all-time greats.
But De La Hoya didnâ€™t have that one last great fight left and was forced to accept a beating as the final act of a Hall of Fame career.
Oscar De La Hoya is the past.
Itâ€™s Pacquiaoâ€™s time now.