By: Sean Crose
“People don’t realize when I fought him,” says Oscar De La Hoya of former foe Manny Pacquiao, “I was a drained fighter.” However, while speaking to ES News, De La Hoya makes it clear he doesn’t want to take anything away from Pacquiao. “He’s still great,” the 48 year old boxing icon says of his former opponent, “obviously.” De La Hoya is currently preparing to get into the ring for the first time in close to thirteen years to face former MMA legend Vitor Belfort in a sanctioned eight rounder. The last time De La Hoya fought in a professional capacity, the opponent was Pacquiao, who many at the time didn’t feel would win. The match ended up being a wipeout, one which led to De La Hoya’s retirement.
“I was seeing everything coming,” De La Hoya recalls of the Pacquiao fight. “I just couldn’t block it. I couldn’t do anything. I was weak.” The 2008 battle not only saw the end of De La Hoya as a fighter, it rang in the Pacquiao era, a spectacular ring run that stands as one of the greatest in history. Unlike De La Hoya, Pacquiao hasn’t stopped fighting. He’s currently preparing to face welterweight titlist Errol Spence later this month in a much anticipated bout. If anyone could offer Spence some professional advice, it’s De La Hoya.
“The one thing people don’t realize,” De La Hoya says of Pacquiao, “is that when he’s on his toes and he throws punches people can’t see them because they’re coming at different angels. You expect for him to stop, but he doesn’t stop.” It’s that awkwardness of Pacquiao’s that still continues to perplex opponents to this day. “He’ll throw a three-punch combination, but then he keeps going,” notes De La Hoya. “He has great conditioning and that’s a big plus for him.” To be sure, video recordings of Pacquiao’s preparation for the Spence fight have been impressing many.
Not that De La Hoya hasn’t earned a spot among the sport’s legends himself. A 1992 Olympian, the fighter known as the “Golden Boy” was the biggest ticket in boxing for years, earning the Californian legendary status as well as wins over fellow greats Julio Caesar Chavez, Hector Camacho, and Pernell Whitaker. Now the head of Golden Boy Promotions, De La Hoya is putting in the work to face Belfort. “Its going to be a fun fight,” he says. “I feel 20. I swear I feel 20.” It’s only a matter of time until the world sees if the man can still resemble his younger self in the ring.