BOXING

Pacquiao forces De La Hoya to quit

Manny Pacquiao

Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

Manny Pacquiao is lifted above the ring after defeating Oscar De La Hoya in eight rounds Saturday night at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

The Filipino, considered to be the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world, pummels the former champion until the East L.A. native fails to answer the bell for the ninth round.
By Kevin Baxter
December 7, 2008
Reporting from Las Vegas -- The hype came to an end just after 8 p.m. Saturday when a smiling Manny Pacquiao, the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world, entered the ring at the MGM Grand Garden Arena to a thunderous ovation. Pacquiao, dressed in a robe in the red, white and blue of the Philippine flag, went directly to his corner, where he kneeled for several seconds in prayer.

He was followed into the ring by Oscar De La Hoya, the only man to win world titles in six weight classes. Grim-faced and serious, wearing a red robe and trailing a banner that had the American flag on one side and the Mexican flag on the other, De La Hoya entered to an ovation of his own, skipping halfway around the ring before finding his corner.

 
The two fighters were preceded by three national anthems -- that of the Philippines, for Pacquiao, and the hymns of the United States and Mexico for East Los Angeles native De La Hoya.

With a crowd of approximately 16,000 – including, according to publicists, heavyweights from the worlds of entertainment (Eva Longoria, Russell Crowe, Marc Anthony, Jennifer Lopez, George Lopez, Usher), sports (Reggie Miller, Magic Johnson, Gary Sheffield, Frank Thomas) and boxing (Juan Manuel Marquez, Thomas Hearns, Mike Tyson), looking on the ring emptied of the two boxers' sizable entourages as Pacquiao and De La Hoya met to get the final instructions from referee Tony Weeks.

Here are the round-by-round updates (unofficial scoring by Times reporters):

Round 1: De La Hoya said at the final pre-fight media conference that he had come up with a couple of strategies for the fight but wouldn't decide which one to use until he left the dressing room. The one he chose apparently called on him to be aggressive, going after the smaller Pacquiao, just missing with an uppercut about 30 seconds into the bout. Pacquiao wasn't backing down, through, throwing some punches of his own before being caught along the ropes with about 45 seconds left in the round. There were a couple of good toe-to-toe exchances, many of which Pacquiao got the best of.

Paqcuiao wins the round, 10-9.

Round 2: Power and a five-inch-reach advantage figured to be the two biggest assets for De La Hoya, who is fighting below 150 pounds for the first time in nearly eight years. Because of that some expected the normally aggressive Pacquiao to keep his distance, neutralizing De La Hoya's strength while taking advantage of his own speed and stamina. But Pacquiao continued to fight straight ahead, going right after De La Hoya. With the pro-Pacquiao crowd chanting "Pacy, Pacy, Pacy," Pacquiao kept the fight in the middle of the ring for most of the round. With 1:25 left De La Hoya got off a good combination but Pacquiao didn't appear to feel it. He later came back and stung De La Hoya with a strong right to the head. De La Hoya countered, chasing Pacquiao with three straight right jabs -- all of which missed.

Pacquiao wins the round, 10-9. Pacquiao leads, 20-18.

Round 3: Pacquiao, who entered the ring a nearly 2-1 underdog, continues to find De La Hoya with a right jab, though the punch seems to have little sting. And when De La Hoya tries to counterpunch, the Filipino does a good job of covering up. When De La Hoya does connect, it's usually with a soft body punch. With 22 seconds left in the round, Pacquiao got off a straight shot to the head that stopped De La Hoya but didn't hurt him.

Pacquiao wins the round, 10-9. Pacquiao leads, 30-27.

Round 4: De La Hoya, who won his first 31 professional fights, hasn't won consecutive bouts since 2002 – and he looked unimpressive his last time out in May, when he beat Steve Forbes. And Pacquiao, with his quickness, seems to have little trouble getting off shots, then ducking the return blows. Halfway through the round, the two fighters exchange combinations but Pacquiao seemed to get the better of the exchange, and with 1:14 to go he snaps De La Hoya's head back with a right hand. De La Hoya's counterattacks appear desperate and the lithe Pacquiao ducks them easily.

Pacquiano wins the round, 10-9. Pacquiao leads, 40-36.

Round 5: Pacquiao weighed in at a svelte 142 pounds, though that represents a big step up for the WBC lightweight champion, who has never fought above 134 -- and who started his professional career at 106 pounds. But the heavier, stronger De La Hoya has been no match for him so far. He face red and his brow furrowed in both concentration and worry, De La Hoya gets stung by a strong right about a minute in. Over the next 40 seconds, Pacquiao lands several punches and De La Hoya appears powerless to stop him. Late in the round Pacquiao changes tactics slightly, throwing combinations that start at the end of the belt to change De La Hoya's eye level. Clearly flustered, De La Hoya enlivens his fans slightly by connecting with a couple of shots in the closing seconds but they're body shots that don't appear to faze Pacquiao.

Pacquiao wins the round 10-9. Pacquiao leads, 50-45.

Round 6: De La Hoya, a step slower and already contemplating retirement at 35, was given an edge in experience coming into the fight even though the 29-year-old Pacquiao, with 52 pro bouts, has fought eight more times than his opponent. In any case it was age, not experience, that separated these fighters coming in and De La Hoya clearly looks like an old fighter. Pacquiao, going after De La Hoya's head again, lands several shots early in the round that has his foe backing up. De La Hoya's left eye is red and swelling but Pacquiao looks untouched. Pacquiao is measuring him with the right, looking for an opening with the left.

Pacquiao wins round, 10-9. Pacquiao leads, 60-54.

Round 7: This bout provided an interesting matchup of trainers as well with legendary Mexican Nacho Beristein in De La Hoya's corner and Freddie Roach, who once trained De La Hoya, now guiding Pacquiao. Beristein, who may know more about Pacquiao than any other trainer, came close to beating the Filipino twice with Juan Manuel Marquez and that knowledge. But Pacquiao is clearly the better fighter so far. De Le Hoya, backed into his corner halfway through the round, appears defenseless. Pacquiao keeps at the assault, getting over several five- and six-round combinations. De La Hoya has no response and nearly goes down twice before escaping to the other side of the ring. But Pacquiao follows and continues the withering assault. Again, De La Hoya has no answer. De La Hoya's left eye is getting worse and Pacquiao is growing more confident, at one point late in the round throwing his hands up at his side as if the challenge De La Hoya.

Pacquiao wins the round, 10-9. Pacquiao leads, 70-63.

Round 8: With the possible exception of the first one, De La Hoya hasn't come close to winning a round. And this one was no different. After backing him into a corner, Pacquiao got off another punishing series of punches with De La Hoya offering no resistance. De La Hoya's left eye is almost closed now and the right one is swelling. With less than 10 seconds left, De La Hoya is backed into a corner again where Pacquiao nailed him with a hard left head, then a right to the body, then a left to the head. Again, De La Hoya can do nothing but take it.

Pacquiao wins in dominating fashion again, 10-9. Pacquiao leads, 80-72.

Round 9: Technically, there was no Round 9. When the bell rang to start it, Pacquiao came off his stool but De La Hoya remained seated with his corner waving off the Filipino, telling referee Tony Weeks their fighter was done.

Pacquiao wins with an eighth round technical knockout.

FYI: Two of the three judges gave Pacquiao every round, with one judge giving De La Hoya the first round. The scorecards were 79-72, 80-71 and 80-71 for Pacquiao.




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