In an historic win, Manny Pacquiao thoroughly destroyed Oscar De La Hoya in such a way that De La Hoya’s days as the main attraction in the sport are over, Pacquiao’s 2008 has to be compared to the greatest single years of all time, and the only fight I would give Pacquiao a chance of losing is one against the man who held the #1 pound-for-pound ranking before he did: the retired Floyd Mayweather, Jr. (Okay, and maybe Antonio Margarito.)
By stopping De La Hoya between the 8th and 9th, Pacquiao accomplished a win I could only describe as astounding.
Just think about how big this win was: Pacquiao, who never before fought above 135 pounds, ruthlessly picked apart De La Hoya at 147 pounds, who’d fought as high at 160 pounds competently. De La Hoya just last year gave Mayweather one of the hardest fights of his life. Against Pacquiao, it was hopeless from moment one.
The Henry Armstrong comparisons for Pacquiao are not competely out of order. He’s beaten top opponents at 130 and 147, and beat a very strong opponent in David Diaz at 135. Pacquiao made De La Hoya look worse than Diaz.
This was as much “Pacquiao being awesome” as “De La Hoya looking old,” but let’s not rob Pacquiao of the credit he deserved. I expected he would lose. He not only won, he won in one of the best performances you’ll ever see.
When I saw Pacquiao winning, I saw him being excellent on defense, better than he ever had been before. He was almost PERFECT on defense, moving in and out, slipping De La Hoya’s punches with his superior speed and keeping his gloves up when De La Hoya surged. And offensively, De La Hoya had no answer for Pacquiao’s speed. None. It was nearly a done deal by the first round.
I like both men, but I couldn’t be happier about Pacquiao’s win. If people now associate boxing with Pacquiao, the health of the sport shall be strong indeed. Now, Pacquiao: Work on the interview skills, and develop a little charisma. That’s all I can ask for.
Next for the winner: Honestly, I would have once laughed off Pacquiao-Margarito, and the fact that I can’t now speaks to how amazing this win is. I think Pacquiao would destroy Ricky Hatton, and as much as I love Juan Manuel Marquez, the Pacquiao who fought tonight — I’d give him a huge edge against his strategic nemesis. Pacquiao-Mayweather is the fight I want to see, because these are the two best fighters of the decade; the two most recent pound-for-pound #1 men; and two guys who have blinding speed and would make an amazing fight aganst one another. I can’t believe I’m typing these sentences.
Next for the loser: Retirement. He’s done. It’s not that he didn’t fight with some balls, but I’ve never seen De La Hoya scared before, and he was. He didn’t really want to keep fighting, but wouldn’t bring himself to admit it. If, should Shane Mosley lose in January to Margarito, De La Hoya wanted to have a “seniors farewell tour,” I wouldn’t oppose it. But De La Hoya’s over as an elite fighter, and it’s been a very good run. You just can’t recover from the embarrassment of losing a fight against a smaller opponent so dramatically. He should have come in bigger than Pacquiao, weight-wise, and didn’t, but that’s a subject for another day…