On May 2, live on PPV, Floyd Mayweather faces Manny Pacquiao in what is being billed as boxing's Fight of the Century. It's a fight that has been in discussion for roughly seven years, and now it is finally upon us. In this Bloody Elbow series, we look at the history leading up to Mayweather vs Pacquiao by examining the key fights that have brought us to May 2.
So far in this series, we've been pretty focused on Floyd Mayweather, looking at his debut, his rise to boxing's #1 megastar status against Oscar De La Hoya, and his retirement after the fight with Ricky Hatton. Today, we switch gears in our narrative, and check in with Pacman.
PART 4: THE DESTRUCTION OF DE LA HOYA (REDUX)
The fight: Manny Pacquiao vs. Oscar De La Hoya, December 6, 2008
The background: At the time of this fight, Floyd Mayweather was officially retired from boxing, and yet his presence (or lack of presence) is strongly felt here. When Mayweather retired, it left a huge hole at the top of the boxing pyramid - a hole for a new pound for pound champ, and a hole for a new superstar. And so Pacquiao stepped into the ring with Oscar De La Hoya in much the same position Mayweather had held during his own fight with the Golden Boy. Most saw Pacquiao as the new pound for pound king, yet they also gave him that throne with an asterisk attached - king while the real king was gone. And like Floyd pre-DLH, Manny had yet to establish himself as a draw. The big difference between the Mayweather and Pacquiao fights with Oscar, is that Manny was seen as the much smaller fighter, and so came in a pretty notable underdog.
The importance: What Manny Pacquiao did to Oscar De La Hoya over the course of 8 rounds is nothing short of astonishing. The underdog came in and completely blew the veteran fighter out of the water in every way imaginable. Domination? Absolutely. Consider this: according to CompuBox, in round 7, Pacquiao landed 45 power punches. De La Hoya landed 4. By the 8th round, De La Hoya was done, and the underdog was now the clear pound for pound champ - no asterisk needed.
The fallout: Much like Mayweather did against the same opponent, Pacquiao earned superstar status here, breaking 1 million PPV for the first time in his career (up from 250,000 in his previous fight) and for the most part consistently staying at that high range in subsequent fights. He also began the game of top this with Mayweather, scoring a point for Team Pacquiao - you split decisioned the legend, I annihilated him and ended his career (De La Hoya would never fight again after this). Just in case that wasn't enough, Pacquiao would keep that one-upmanship going with his next opponent, though not without Mayweather getting his name back in the game.
Next time: Pacquiao vs. Hatton
There were many great Manny Pacquiao fights leading up to this epic clash with De La Hoya, but none better than his 2nd match with career rival Juan Manuel Marquez. Taking place in early 2008, 9 months before the De La Hoya fight, this was a classic Pacquiao performance, even if not everyone actually thinks he won. Prior to the De La Hoya fight, this was also Pacquiao's highest selling fight, pulling in 400,000 PPV buys. It's an absolute classic and a must watch.
Join us at Bloody Elbow for Mayweather vs. Pacquiao coverage as we get ready for fight night, May 2, live on PPV.