Sunday, December 7, 2008

Pacquiao vs de la Hoya

It was brutal. It was beautiful. It was boxing at its finest, I’d say.

It seems like Mexicans and Filipinos wanted to see a battle of cultures. This honky just wanted to see a good boxing match, and he was not disappointed.

The first round, like in most boxing matches, was spent by each fighter trying to feel the other one out. It didn’t take too long for each fighter to gain some confidence, though. Though both Manny and Oscar are astounding talents and great athletes, it was obvious from the start who had more energy. The younger Pacquiao danced and ducked and dodged with more pep and grace than the 35-year-old de la Hoya could hope to have mustered. Though he was slower and less energetic, Oscar still showed experience and skill by not wasting any precious energy trying to keep up with Manny. While it almost looked like Pacquiao was all over the place, he landed some telling shots on de la Hoya’s face before the end of the round.

Both fighters came out strong and fast in the second round. They took a lot more risks, but didn’t deal too much damage. Oscar looked more like a teacher than an opponent as he poked holes in Manny’s defense with only glancing blows, never really hurting Pacquiao. Once again, Manny was all over the place. But hey, it works.

Pacquiao and de la Hoya slowed down for the third round, but it was no less interesting. Both fighters exhibited almost perfect defensive skill for the first minute-and-a-half. Pacquiao ducked and dodged expertly, while de la Hoya used a much more subtle (though no less impressive, to the trained eye) method; while de la Hoya was using technically-perfect-though-inaccurate jabs to keep Manny at bay, you could tell that Pacquiao was dying to get in a good body shot, but Oscar kept slightly adjusting his posture – just enough so that Manny couldn’t get in a good shot. Sadly, though, after the first minute-and-a-half, their defensive skills were much less than perfect, and de la Hoya took another bad punch to the face. The fighting became a bit more frantic as the round came to an end.

In round four, de la Hoya was showing his age again. Pacquiao just danced circles around him for most of the round, and towards the end he was just flat-out out boxing de la Hoya.

For the most part, round five was more of the same as Pacquiao just continued to out box his older opponent. Towards the end, however, Oscar seemed to summon up some strength from what must have been pure ferocity. Unfortunately for him, Manny was showing no signs of slowing down and met him blow for blow.

The sixth round was a lot like the fifth, as Pacquiao was still going strong and de la Hoya was still looking like he was waiting for his turn.

The seventh round was fairly dull up until the second half, when Pacquiao got de la Hoya in a corner and kept him there for a while, just throwing punches effortlessly and masterfully. Even after Oscar got out of the corner, Manny just kept hitting him, never letting up, and never losing his pace.

The eighth round wasn’t as exciting as the seventh, but Manny kept working on Oscar. In the last ten seconds of the round, Pacquiao just went nuts and looked like he was beating the crap out of de la Hoya.

Oscar threw in the towel after the eight round, knowing he didn’t really have a chance. Pacquiao got a TKO win, and de la Hoya had a busted eye.

It was a great fight, and both fighters showed more skill and athleticism than most of us could ever hope to achieve. I wasn’t really rooting for either fighter, but in the end I think I’m more glad that Pacquiao won than I would have been had de la Hoya won. Oscar’s had a great run in his career, and now it’s time for a younger man to go further.

In the best way possible, Pacquiao reminds me of Bruce Lee. Even though he’s a real lightweight, he could still beat the living hell out of just about anybody. Even when he’s not throwing great punches, he’s always bouncing on his toes, moving around, ready to defend or attack, whatever the situation calls for. They’re both great examples of pure efficiency in motion.

While most people find fights boring unless there are two heavyweights in the ring, I generally prefer to watch fights like this. These guys have much better stamina, and they fight in a much more technical manner. While two heavyweights will beat the crap out of each other, they’ll also repeatedly hug each other or hang on the ropes to take a breather. The beautiful thing about lighter weight fights is that the fighters can keep going, and that’s much more impressive to me than just using your weight as a weapon.

Some quick facts:
Pacquiao was credited with landing 224 of 585 punches to just 83 of 402 for De La Hoya.
At the time of the stoppage, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, had Pacquiao ahead, 80-72, winning all the rounds.
Ringside statistics showed Pacquiao landed 45 power punches in the seventh round to just four for De La Hoya.

Check out for a better account.

I wasn’t lucky enough to watch it Pay-Per-View. Instead I had to watch it on youtube.
Here’s the first round, navigate from there:

Unfortunately, if you leave the sound on, you’ll mostly hear some Filipinos laughing and generally being excited for Pacquiao.

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