LAS VEGAS (Reuters) - Manny Pacquiao of the Philippines stunned 10-times world champion Oscar De La Hoya with an eighth-round TKO in their non-title fight in Las Vegas on Saturday.
Moving up two weight classes for his first fight at welterweight, WBC lightweight champion Pacquiao dominated De La Hoya from the opening bell, defying the American’s longer reach and picking him off with straight left hands to the face.
Clearly ahead after the first few rounds, Pacquiao backed De La Hoya up against the ropes and opened up with combinations in the seventh and eighth. At the end of the eighth round De La Hoya’s trainer signaled he had seen enough and the referee stopped the fight.
“From the first round, I knew we had him,” said Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach. “He had no legs, he was hesitant, he was shot.”
As Pacquiao celebrated, De La Hoya walked across the ring to Roach.
“I’m OK,” he said. “I just don’t have it any more.”
Widely regarded as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world, Pacquiao was still the underdog entering the bout as De La Hoya was favored to defeat the smaller man by utilizing his longer reach and stiff left jab.
However, it was the Filipino’s jab that looked superior, keeping De La Hoya at bay as he bounced on his toes and waited for openings to throw his straight left hand.
“I knew right away I would win this fight,” said Pacquiao.
“I controlled the fight. I was able to defend against his jab. I was able to connect with everything, he was able to connect with nothing.”
PRICE IS RIGHT
Pacquiao (48-3-2, 36 KOs) looked ahead to a possible clash with Britain’s light-welterweight champion Ricky Hatton, who won in the same ring two weeks ago.
“I will fight him anywhere they want if the price is right,” said Pacquiao. “But not until after I take a long vacation.”
After an explosive first few rounds, the pace dipped slightly in the fifth and sixth, as De La Hoya seemed increasingly reluctant to leave himself open to Pacquiao’s punches.
But in the seventh, Pacquiao turned up the heat.
A series of right hooks to the head backed De La Hoya (39-6, 30 KOs) up against the ropes. Pacquiao opened up with fierce combinations that forced “The Golden Boy” to cover up as referee Tony Weeks kept a close eye on how much damage De La Hoya was taking.
The eighth was even more lopsided with De La Hoya offering no resistance backed to the ropes and Pacquiao unloading with impunity.
As a dejected De La Hoya sat in his corner at the end of the round, his trainer Nacho Beristain signaled he had seen enough and Weeks called a halt to the contest.
“I’m not shocked,” said De La Hoya.
“At this stage, when you fight someone like Manny Pacquiao, it’s going to be a tough fight. I felt flat. I just didn’t have it.”
Asked about the prospect of retirement, De La Hoya said: “we will have to wait and see.”
Editing by Peter Rutherford
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