Say So Long Oscar

By the time it was all said and done, Manny Pacquiao had beaten Oscar De La Hoya so thoroughly that his corner threw in the towel. A far cry from the battler that dominated his weight class in boxing for several years. Saturday night was the death knell of a great career. It’s sad. As a boxing fan you know that “getting old” can happen with one fight, one round or one punch. Last night it looked like he got all three before the fifth round finished.

Since fighting Floyd Mayweather last year, many of boxing pundits have been hinting that he lacked the power and speed that once made him one of the greatest boxing sensations of the post-Tyson boxing era. He was out to prove he still had it. He did look good in his tune up fight against some random (Steven Forbes) this past May, but on Saturday night, he looked terrible and was so throughly outboxed that it made me sad. Granted, he has been on this downward slant for some time. To not acknowledge that would be a few feet past my normal rosy optimism and right on down the road to delusional. This fight though? All bad, and certainly not the performance anyone that liked him at any point in his career was expecting.

Its clear he even took this fight as a way to “re-establish” himself as a top boxer. By taking on Pacquiao, he was putting out the word that he wasn’t afraid. Unfortunately it wasn’t the most prudent decision.

Pacquiao entered the ring looking determined to shock the world. All the signs were there. He was calm and relaxed in the dressing room. He was saying all the right things leading up to the fight. When it was over, he was the newest “it” fighter, and De La Hoya’s boxing career is likely over. His corner threw in the towel. I never thought I’d see something like that. De La Hoya has defiinitely gotten his face bashed in before, more than once, and won the fight. I totally expected him to stick it out this time too. I guess old habits die hard.

After the Calzaghe/Jones fight, I won’t front. I kind of wanted him to go down too, and give boxing old another victim. As it stands now, all my favorites of the past few years (with the exception of Floyd Mayweather-who retired after beating De La Hoya last year) have not gone out so gracefully. They’ve landed on their backs, after being thoroughly outmatched and out worked. Its the nature of the beast right?

It was clear early who was in charge. Pacquiao put on a dazzling show, pummeling De La Hoya with nasty hooks, jabs and uppercuts that closed his left eye early, and kept him off balance for the duration. There were no flashes of the old Oscar. Not. A. One. His punches were flat, clumsy and inaccurate. He looked slow and old, like he didn’t belong in a professional boxing ring at all, or had been brought in to be a weak sparring partner. It almost made me feel bad for him. Pacquiao has called De La Hoya his idol. If this is how you do your idols, then what are you going to do to people you actually don’t like? Did he take it “easy” because he’s a fan? Is there more to him at this weight than met the eye last night? Who knows, but by the time it was all said and done, Manny Pacquiao made himself the newest thing; before the month is out, they’ll be talking about Mayweather coming out of retirement, or setting up something with someone like Ricky Hatton. Fight’s that would be worth watching, and hopefully much less lopsided than what the world witnessed.

Fighters like Manny Pacquiao are making it fun to watch again. I found myself rooting for him, especially after watching the 24/7 episodes. He seemed humble and had that quiet determination that made him look as if he knew early he wouldn’t have a problem in this fight. De La Hoya talked a good game though, if we just went on the press, and that suspect scale used at the official weigh in, this was clearly his fight to lose. All the while Pacquiao showed up and put himself in a position to make a real lot of money. For De La Hoya’s sake, I hope there isn’t a rematch. Nobody wants to see him get beaten down like that again. It was obvious who the better boxer was, and it wasn’t the promoter. A sad end for yet another boxing great.


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