x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Pacman packs a punch

After only eight rounds Oscar De La Hoya succumbed to a punishing onslaught from Manny Pacquiao.

Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines connects with a right to the head of Oscar De La Hoya during their welterweight fight in Las Vegas.
Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines connects with a right to the head of Oscar De La Hoya during their welterweight fight in Las Vegas.

Oscar De La Hoya was ready to tangle with King Kong when he climbed into the ring at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas. After being clubbed to defeat by Manny Pacquiao in their welterweight "Dream Match", he probably wished he had faced Hollywood's oversized ape. Instead, the Golden Boy of world boxing was pummelled and pounded by the greatest fighter on the planet. Pacquiao did not just win, he broke De La Hoya's heart and pierced his soul in a brutal fight. By the time he sat on his stool at the end of the eighth round dazed and confused with his left eye bloated and bruised, De Le Hoya was a beaten man. He did not need referee Tony Weeks telling him "if you keep taking punches, I'm stopping the fight". He knew it was all over, and quit before the bell went for the ninth. "I'm not shocked," De La Hoya, a 10-times world champion, said after the carnage in the Garden. "I just didn't have it. [Before the fight] I had trained for King Kong. But I just don't have it any more." At 35, De La Hoya must know the glory years are over after his ageing legs wobbled under Pacquiao's relentless barrage of blows. From the opening bell, the 29-year-old Filipino fighter dazzled De La Hoya with his speed and power, as he lived up to his reputation as the best pound for pound boxer in the world. By the seventh round, De La Hoya resembled a high-roller that had been mugged on Las Vegas Boulevard. His left eye was closing as "The Pacman" pinned him against the ropes with a flurry of quick combinations. In the space of three minutes, the desire had drained from his body and defeat was in his eyes. Pacquiao was on the threshold of victory which was sealed in the eighth when he mounted the sort of savage assault that would have brought down a wildebeest. "I'm not surprised by the result, because I prepared well to control it from the beginning," he said. "Speed was going to be the key to this fight. That's what we were working on every day in the gym . . . speed." After Pacquiao destroyed De La Hoya yesterday, King Kong would be wise to stay in retirement. A more realistic opponent, though, could be Britain's Ricky Hatton. The fight would probably be at light-welterweight, according to promoter Bob Arum. "After the New Year, we'll sit down, we'll talk, but that's probably the most logical fight to be made, Manny against Ricky Hatton at 140lbs," he said. "Because obviously Manny would want to fight at 140 and so would Ricky." Pacquiao certainly likes the idea. "My job is to fight in the ring. I can fight any time, anywhere. I can go to England to fight Hatton, no problem," he told Sky Box Office.

* With agencies