It turns out that maybe the Manila police and Philippine Army knew something about Manny Pacquiao that the rest of us didn’t ahead of his “Super Fight” against Oscar De La Hoya. Like that there would be good reason for the people of the Philippines to be celebrating on Saturday night, because despite having a huge size and weight disadvantage, Pacquiao would be too fast, too smart and - yes - too strong for the aging Golden Boy.
Whether they were prophets or just looking for a night off, their hero lived up to his end of the bargain, beating De La Hoya’s to a pulp before forcing his corner to throw in the towel before the start of the ninth round. (It was so bad that Jim Lampley was practically in tears at one point while describing how Pacquiao was “rearranging De La Hoya’s beautiful face.” Get a hold of yourself, man.)
Considering that Pacquiao was a 2-to-1 underdog, and it was almost impossible to find an “expert” who thought that he had anything resembling a chance in the fight, it’s a remarkable result. And it wasn’t just that Pacquiao won the fight: he dominated. At times it resembled a young Larry Holmes toying with a broken down Muhammad Ali before the legend was forced to quit while sitting on his stool.
Now, I’m not suggesting that De La Hoya is at Ali’s level of physical or mental loss at this point, or that we’ll be seeing him hawk roach motels any time soon. But clearly as a fighter, he’s done, and his post-fight remarks all but said that. Say what you will about the Golden Boy: it was kind of hard to watch a proud fighter take a savage beating and have no answer in response.
De La Hoya could have one win in him after all though, against “Sugar” Shane Mosley. I’m not talking about a rematch of their 2003 fight (God, no): the DAILY NEWS is reporting that De La Hoya is considering suing to overturn the results of the fight after it came out in the BALCO investigation that Mosley was using steroids and EPO before the fight. Because that’s what’s going to save his legacy at this point.
But De La Hoya’s almost-certain retirement is only part of the story. Boxing has a new superstar in Manny Pacquiao, who is not only set to take over De La Hoya’s mantle as boxing’s top draw, but is now the poster child for a nation. Eduardo Ermita, the Executive Secretary of the Philippines, hailed Pacquiao’s victory as a “saving grace” for the nation. And maybe for boxing as well.