Manny Pacquiao vs. Oscar De La Hoya
"The Dream Match"
December 6, 2008
"My heart still wants to fight, that’s for sure. But when your physical doesn’t respond, what can you do?"
There comes a day when even the greatest fighter breaks down. His athletic abilities desert him in his moment of need and he realizes that he has overstayed his welcome. Often in such cases - such as Rocky Marciano vs. Joe Louis - such moments are a double-twilight: the sunset of one fighter’s career and the sunrise of another’s. One generation passes the torch to the next.
This day was Oscar De La Hoya’s last hurrah. Manny’s star was on the rise.
Manny had already taken several world championships and was an acknowledged pound-for-pound pick, but the latest in his string of championship conquests had been the lightweight crown, and his last eight fights before that had all taken place at super featherweight. This bout was take place at the welterweight limit, twelve pounds over lightweight and a full seventeen pounds over super featherweight. Few expected Pacquiao to match the much larger De La Hoya.
But Manny rose to the occasion, and just as grandly, the fighting pride of the Phillipines rose to full glory. When the Golden Boy lashed out, Pacquiao was never there. He floated about the ring much as Oscar himself one did, hitting his foe at will.
After eight rounds of one-sided punishment, his coach and cornerman, Nacho Beristáin, broke the hard news to De La Hoya: he had no chance of victory. Anything he did beyond this point would be an unnecessary risk. De La Hoya quit on his stool. Manny Pacquiao rose to public eminence and De La Hoya stepped into the quiet dignity of retirement.