Saving a cherished reputation of never being knocked out in a legendary 10 year career that brought him an unprecedented 6 titles in as many divisions, Oscar de la Hoya managed to accomplish only that, nothing else. Yet his surrender after the 8th round made that same reputation hollow and meaningless. Touted as a true warrior who faced many fierce battles, de la Hoya's failure to fight to the death, like a true warrior, cast serious doubt on his spirit and substance as a tested fighter who never loses heart. On this fateful night, de la Hoya lost everything.
In the fight top billed as the Dream Match, Oscar lost the agility in his legs, his penetrating jabs were neutralized, his power punches blocked or evaded, his surgical approach dismantled, his speed was jammed into a halt - until the fight in him vanished. He didn't do this to himself, but was masterfully executed by Manny Pacquiao, who had triumphed over all Mexicans put in front of him until they could no longer find a match for his superior fighting skills. The last Mexican standing was a legend who was bigger, heavier, with longer reach and a reputation to protect - all the elements that bolster an advantage which made the Pacman the underdog. What Oscar did to himself was to lose heart and give up to evade an outright knockout. In the process, he also lost his reputation as a true warrior.
Ringside statistics attest to the domination by Pacquiao in the lopsided fight that made Oscar looked anything but old and retireable. His speed, power, agility, and fight strategy proved beyond doubt that he is the world's best pound-for-pound fighter there is. Pacquiao pummeled de la Hoya like a permissive punching bag, hitting him at will with 224 out of 585 punches landing, as against Oscar's 83 out of 402. He also gave Oscar 45 power punches in the 7th round versus only four received by the Pacman which threw de la Hoya at the center of the ring. Two of the 3 judges gave Pacquiao all the 8 rounds except for one judge who gave Oscar the first round. Manny Pacquiao put on a spectacular display; while Oscar de la Hoya, who was a mere shell of his old self, put on a pathetic performance.
Manny Pacquiao has unwittingly put an end to a remarkable story, one that began in the 1992 Barcelona Olympics when a young Oscar de la Hoya won the gold in a skillfully executed bout. He went on to become the biggest box office draw in boxing. In the last 6 years however, he has not won a major bout. In this match, he no longer had the elements to mount a counter attack to win the fight. He was all spent and wasted. His only other stoppage came via a referee's decision, this time, he concurred with his handlers.The decision was his, and he opted to end it standing up. All is not lost for he earned a substantially sizeable amount for his closed left eye and swollen face. Perhaps pride can be covered with money, which seems to be the main reason for this battle. Oscar de la Hoya has come full circle, from a fighting legend to a shrewd businessman.
The power of Pacquiao's punches may be greatly aided by his faith and augmented in large part by his prayers and those of around 50 million of 82 million Filipinos. He has defeated a legend, and has himself become one. He bears the weight of an entire nation on his shoulders whenever he goes up the ring, and dedicated each of his fights to the people of his country. He prays before and after a fight, win or lose; and refuses to give up even when badly beaten, heavily cut, and profusely bleeding - much like his idol Oscar de la Hoya some years ago. Perhaps a fighter loses part of his spirit with every punch received over the years - all because of their stubborn refusal to stop. The addiction to glory in a viciously violent encounter boosts their ego and makes them deny their diminishing power and strength, in an event so primitive yet continues to salivate a supposed civilized world in watching two men rearrange each other's face and bones; and become ecstatic at seeing blood and gore.
The Filipino people and the Filipino nation should be prepared to pray that Pacquiao cease this brutal sport while he is in one piece. He has done more than enough for the country and to the upliftment of the Filipino psyche' and spirit, more than any politician ever has. Pacquiao's humanity and sacrifice has encouraged unity and peace - the least the Filipino nation can do is to honor him in peace and let him enjoy the fruits of his very excruciating labors. The peak is the best place to end a quest. Pray that he isn't knocked senseless by all the adoration and the summer acquaintances who shower praise - yet disappear when the rains pour.