De La Hoya: Manny Pacquiao on a different level

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09:51 PM November 8th, 2011

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By: Francis T.J. Ochoa, November 8th, 2011 09:51 PM

LAS VEGAS—For eight rounds, he stood at the receiving end of a brutal, relentless beating so that when the bell rang for the ninth, he remained in his stool, unable to go any further.

Oscar De La Hoya, therefore, knows perfectly what he’s talking about.

The Golden Boy, rebuilding a life that spiraled to drug-tainted depths after a thorough defeat at the hands of Manny Pacquiao, dropped by the Wild Card Gym Monday and said the Filipino star has a huge edge going into his showdown with Mexican Juan Manuel Marquez on November 12.

“Manny is on a whole different level,” the 38-year-old former boxing poster boy said. “Manny has been fighting [the likes of] Shane Mosley, myself [and] Miguel Cotto. Marquez has been fighting ordinary fighters [and] that could be the difference.”

De La Hoya, who actually visited the Wild Card Gym to check on his ward, Amir Khan, who trains there, fought Pacquiao in 2008 in what was initially pegged as a mismatch in favor of the American.

But Pacquiao snatched those odds and ran them through a shredder, pummeling De La Hoya with a dizzying combination of speed and power for eight rounds until the latter quit in the ninth.

De La Hoya hasn’t fought since and his life took a turn for the worse when he made public a drug problem that forced him into rehab. He told journalists Saturday that he is slowly turning his life around.

“I’m turning my life around,” he said, adding jokingly “but there will be no more comebacks for me.”

De La Hoya called Pacquiao a special boxer who is “good for the sport” and said the reigning pound-for-pound king will enter his third bout against his arch-nemesis faster and stronger than in their two previous encounters.

“Manny is faster, stronger and Marquez is 38 years old,” said De La Hoya. “But Manny has to be careful with his style. Marquez’ style can be complicated for Manny.”

De La Hoya knows Marquez’ ploy of bulking up for the fight won’t pose a problem to the eight-division champion. After all, the Golden Boy was also the bigger guy against Pacquiao during their 2008 bout. In fact, De La Hoya said, the added pounds may pose more of a problem to Marquez than to Pacquiao when fight night arrives.

“Marquez is 38 and he came up in weight too fast,” De La Hoya said. “You can’t do that in one fight and face Manny.”

Pacquiao-Marquez III, which will be for the Pacman’s WBO welterweight crown, will be fought at a catch weight of 144 pounds.

Since turning back Marquez by a narrow split decision in 2008 for the super featherweight crown, Pacquiao has scaled the next three higher divisions, winning titles in each of them.

The Filipino continues to sport overwhelming odds in the fight that will be held at the MGM Grand, with Vegas bookies putting him a -950 favorite against Marquez (+650).

Almost all betting lines have Pacquiao favored, with oddsmakers leaning toward a knockout by the Pacman. A huge reason for this is the fact that Pacquiao has floored Marquez four times in two previous encounters.

Pacquiao knocked down Marquez three times in the first round before the Mexican counterpuncher rallied to forge a draw in their first bout.

In the second meeting between the two, Pacquiao’s third-round flooring of Marquez has been fingered as the crucial factor in the close decision.

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