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Toughest opponent

A decade later, De La Hoya pays tribute to boxer who ended his career
/ 05:20 AM July 13, 2018

Golden Boy Promotions chairman and CEO Oscar De La Hoya chats with select members of the Filipino media on Thursday at Le Meridien Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Photo by Mark Giongco/INQUIRER.net

KUALA LUMPUR—Oscar De La Hoya has fought the sport’s biggest name all the way to his spot in boxing’s pantheon.

But no fighter troubled him as much as Manny Pacquiao did. And no one but the Philippine ring icon made the sport’s “Golden Boy” feel the way he felt one night in 2008 in Las Vegas, when Pacquiao emptied De La Hoya of every drop of will with a violently beautiful beating.

“He (Pacquiao) made me get old,” De La Hoya said on Thursday. The Golden Boy Promotions (GBP) chief, who is here for the bout between Pacquiao and Argentine Lucas Matthysse, jokingly added: “I am still in pain from after I fought him.”

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Pacquiao chased De La Hoya from post-to-post, administering a punching clinic that left the all-time great winded and welded to his seat in the ninth round. It was a beating so sound, De La Hoya never fought after that.

“With Pacquiao, it is very tricky. Pacquiao has a very unique style. When I fought him, I thought he was gonna get tired,” Dela Hoya told select journalists in his Le Meridien lounge suite. “Well, he never got tired.”

And after fighting the likes of Floyd Mayweather, Pernell Whitaker, Bernard Hopkins, Felix Trinidad and Julio Cesar Chavez, it took hardly a pause before De La Hoya answered the question of who gave him the hardest time on the ring.

“Toughest? Manny Pacquiao! What separates him was his determination, his conditioning, his skills, his power, his speed and his footwork. He’s one of the fighters I most appreciate.”

How he views the 2008 version of Pacquiao is far different from the Pacquiao who will fight GBP ward Matthysse on Sunday. But there are parallels. In one corner is a fighter eager for a shot at glory. In the other? A legend slowly on the fade the way De La Hoya was in 2008.

“I hope it won’t happen on Sunday,” he said on the potential of Matthysse doing to Pacquiao what Pacquiao did to De La Hoya a decade ago. “I don’t know maybe how distracted he (Pacquiao) can be. And I do know that Matthysse is fully focused and determined, fighting the fight of his life.”

Mario Arano, Matthysse’s manager, agrees with the 45-year-old De La Hoya.

When both fighters climb the ring on Sunday, Matthysse will be looking for more than just a paycheck, Arano said.

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“We are here for glory.”

“With all due respect to all fighters, we all know that we are facing one of the greatest fighters the world has known,” Arano said via translator during Thursday’s final press conference. “I ask you to applaud Señor Pacquiao. But I wanna tell you that we are not here for the pay check.”

De La Hoya said Matthysse “has a good chin,” and that he will show that he’s the younger fighter. Pacquiao, De La Hoya added, is worn down physically after having faced the best fighters in his prime.

His forecast: “If Pacquiao wins it’s gonna be by decision, if Lucas wins it’s gonna be by knockout.”

De La Hoya lavished Pacquiao with praises for being “an inspiration for the youth to become warriors, giving them hope and opportunity (now as a promoter) using his fists. Using his heart. He’s doing it because he loves to give back.”

De La Hoya said he and Pacquiao were the next generation of promoters, “who got a page from Bob Arum’s playbook.”

Arum’s Top Rank’s only involvement here was distributing the fight in the United States, snagging a deal with ESPN+, the livestreaming arm of ESPN network.

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TAGS: Boxing, Golden Boy Promotions (GBP), Lucas Matthysse, Manny Pacquiao, Oscar De La Hoya
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