KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – When Oscar De La Hoya heaped praises on Manny Pacquiao Thursday morning, July 12, it wasn’t all for show.
The former poster boy of boxing really considers Pacquiao the best he’s ever fought.
“Manny Pacquiao,” De La Hoya said when asked to name the fighter of his choice, then rattled off the reasons why. “Because of his determination, conditioning, skill, power, speed, footwork.”
And that means a lot considering that the International Boxing Hall of Famer has tangled with the likes of Floyd Mayweather Jr., Felix Trinidad, Pernell Whitaker and Julio Cesar Chavez.
Holding no rancor against the man who sent him into retirement in 2008, De La Hoya, chief executive officer of Golden Boy Promotions, also described Pacquiao’s duel with his fighter, Lucas Matthysse, as the best against the best during the press conference held at Hilton Hotel.
Filipino sportswriters were surprised when he echoed the same line in an interview at his suite at Le Meridien three hours later.
De La Hoya, whose record of 10 world titles in six weight divisions were surpassed by Pacquiao with 11 crowns in eight divisions, said the outcome of Pacquiao’s challenge for the Argentine’s World Boxing Association welterweight crown will hinge upon who will climb the ring at Axiata Arena on Sunday.
Will it be a distracted Pacquiao, or will it be a focused Pacquiao?
According to the 1992 Barcelona Olympic gold medalist, it’s a key factor because Matthysse is sure to come into the fight determined to bring back his belt to Argentina.
As such, De La Hoya gave a two-sided prediction.
If the bout goes the full 12 rounds, Pacquiao wins. But if it ends via knockout, Matthysse will be the one standing.
De La Hoya, who flew in from Los Angeles, California, early Thursday, based his prognosis on the fact that Pacquiao hasn’t knocked out an opponent since halting Puerto Rican legend Miguel Cotto in 2009.
While admitting that Pacquiao has lost a step or two due to his age, 39, De La Hoya believes Matthysse will still lag behind in the speed department.
As such, De La Hoya advises the younger Matthysse, 35, not to get frustrated if Pacquiao peppers him with punches and avoids his counters.
“When he throws punches and hits you, it gets you frustrated, “said De La Hoya. “Matthysse must show that he’s younger, stronger, fresher, otherwise Pacquiao will walk over him. Matthysse needs to stay calm, cool, collected.”
De La Hoya, however, cautions Pacquiao to “be careful with Lucas,” because he’s no joke and if his ward lands a well-timed right, ït’s gonna be a one-punch knockout.”
With Pacquiao also acting as the bout’s main promoter apart from being a Philippine senator, De La Hoya thinks Pacquiao, who made him quit on his stool after absorbing eight rounds of beating, should concentrate on the task at hand.
Knowing Pacquiao’s work ethic, De La Hoya thinks Pacquiao, with a new training team headed by Buboy Fernandez, will be hungry and ready to go Sunday morning.
De La Hoya doesn’t want Pacquiao to experience what he did to him a decade back.
“When I fought Manny he made me get old, “said De La Hoya. Ï’m still in pain. It still hurts.” – Rappler.com
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