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PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2008 9:07 pm 
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Dead Man Walking: The Truth Behind Manny Pacquiao’s Win Over Oscar De La Hoya
By Geoff “The Professor” Poundes-December 18, 2008

As scores of boxing “pundits” worldwide eat humble pie and re-calibrate their crystal balls, this writer would like to mount a defense for those of us who could not see a way for Manny Pacquiao to trouble Oscar De La Hoya in the big one on December 6th.

My argument is a simple one: De La Hoya was no more than a husk of a man in the fight, having weight-drained to such an extent that he could hardly lift his arms from the second round on. Now, as close watchers of this game of ours, perhaps we scribes should have given greater consideration pre-fight to the possibility that Oscar would debilitate his body in the way that he did, but come on, give us a break: an 8-Time World Champion, 16-year professional, the richest and hence the most resourceful fighter in history and the most marketable name in boxing – how could anyone predict that a man of such stature would so misjudge his own physical condition coming in to so huge an occasion?

In truth, what we all misjudged, perhaps including even De La Hoya himself, was how closely he covets the mighty dollar. Roundly criticized for even considering making the match with Pacquiao, which was viewed by many (myself included) as no more than a cynical commercial exercise, De La Hoya was faced with the challenge of making the match “real” if the fight public were going to tune in – he had to even things out, reduce the differentials, give the casual fan something upon which to hang their hat. Pacquiao himself had made it clear after his defeat of David Diaz, itself a leap in weight for the little Filipino at 135 pounds, that fighting De La Hoya would be too great a gap to bridge.

Step forward Oscar, dollar signs flashing in his eyes – to make the match at 147 pounds, a weight that the American hadn’t seen for eight years and a target that at age 35 ultimately proved impossible to reach without ruining all that a body needs to box competitively. I think De La Hoya walked up the ring steps that night knowing that he was in no condition to fight – but the cash was in the tills, the spotlight was on, and, hey, the guy on the other side of the ring was just a little Filipino who had been knocked out by flyweights before now.

It’s somewhat ironic that Pacquiao’s people dismiss those early reverses in the Pacman’s career as aberrations brought about by debilitating weight loss to make the flyweight limit, and you know I think they’re right: Manny’s subsequent career and hop through the weight classes, seemingly becoming more successful and destructive the heavier he gets, bears witness that something was up in those early losses.

And similarly, something was clearly up on December 6th. Amid rumors that De La Hoys had made 147 as much as a month before the fight in training camp, there were whispers and worries at the weigh-in itself, when Oscar tipped the scales at 145, with some observers noting the marks in the American’s arms which they took to suggest De La Hoya had been intravenously injected. The last time De La Hoya had weighed less than 145 was in 1998 for the Chavez fight. On the scales Oscar looked pared down, thin, wan, almost anemic. On the other hand, Pacquiao looked well muscled, energized and ready for battle.

Observers had long felt the deciding factor in the fight would not be the boxer’s weight at the official weigh-in, but the 36 hours or so between weigh-in and fight-time. Most believed that Oscar would pack on the pounds, re-hydrate and re-vitalize, and enter the ring some 14 pounds or more heavier than his opponent. Imagine the shock, therefore, when the two fighters were weighed an hour or so before entering the ring, and Oscar had gained no more than a couple of pounds. Seasoned onlookers began to shake their head. Something was up.

There have been rumors post-fight that the contract carried some severe financial penalties for the De La Hoya camp should he have come in overweight, and Oscar himself had talked about new diets and new regimes for this particular fight. If so, Pacquiao’s people got this one absolutely right – and won the poker game before it even started. De La Hoya, blinded by the dollars, gave it all away at the outset.

I don’t want to take anything away from Manny Pacquiao – he beat the man in front of him fairly and squarely and with some exquisite punch-and-get-out boxing that would have had a fully fit De La Hoya reaching for his “A” game. But his opponent on this night, with a body in the condition that it was in, would have lost handily to any leading welterweight or light-welterweight on the roster. The fact is, as many of us declared beforehand, the fight should never have taken place. I contend that in the winning of it Manny has not become a factor at 147 pounds any more than he would have been had he lost. He’s simply not big enough to share a ring with a Antonio Margarito, or a Miguel Cotto – both of whom would bring to the match the kind of combination of youth, power, fitness and speed that poor Oscar was incapable of on December 6th.

For me Pacquiao becomes a competitive light-welterweight, and if the ducks line up he should get a shot at the rejuvenated Ricky Hatton in 2009 – and that will be the time to judge the Philippine and his legacy. Hatton has his own failed experiment with jumping weight for Manny to learn from, for if he thinks he’s nailed it with the victory over De La Hoya, he may be in for a rude awakening.

As for the Golden Boy, he knows what went wrong. He told Larry Merchant in the immediate aftermath of the fight, before the microphones were switched on, that he had beaten himself. To his credit, once the broadcaster began to question him on the statement, he refused to elaborate, simply stating that he felt weak and that Pacquiao had fought a great fight. I was reminded of Kelly Pavlik’s interview on his way to the dressing room after he jumped 10 pounds to give Bernard Hopkins the opportunity to smoke him, when the fighter alluded to “problems” before the fight, later revealed as bronchitis, but then retracted after prompting by his handlers and gave all the credit to his opponent. Upon reflection both De La Hoya and Pavlik may have cause to regret that they ignored their bodies to chase down the dollars.

De La Hoya was not alone in his assessment. Eric Brown (Pacquaio’s assistant trainer) was asked to recount Manny’s victory:

“I’m not sure if Oscar was a hundred percent. It appeared as though he (Oscar) went overboard in trying to maintain his lower weight. He may have gone too long in camp in coming down in weight that his stomach shrunk and he wasn’t able to eat properly anymore because he was too drained. I believe he was over trained.”

Amen to that. I don’t think Oscar will want to go out in the manner that he did. I think we’ll see De La Hoya fight again, at a sustainable weight, when his body can do justice to his legacy. ... dmore=1446

PostPosted: Sat Dec 20, 2008 9:23 pm 
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Joined: Sat Nov 24, 2007 12:09 pm
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"Oscar can't pull the trigger anymore" - Freddie Roach
nuff said

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