LOS ANGELES — Manny Pacquiao pummelled Oscar De La Hoya into retirement with a one-sided beating in 2008.
The win elevated the Filipino fighter further into the sport’s stratosphere.
Thirteen years later, De La Hoya is days away from returning to the ring with a fight against former UFC champion Vitor Belfort, just as Pacquiao is days removed from suffering an upset loss to Yordenis Ugas.
Regardless of the series of events, De La Hoya still respects Pacquiao and holds him in high regard.
“I think [Ugas] fought a disciplined fight [by staying back]. The times that he wasn't disciplined, Manny Pacquiao would just eat him alive with his combinations … I thought Manny Pacquiao looked good, just Ugas didn't make him look good,” De La Hoya told reporters before a media workout promoting his Sept. 11 fight at Staples Center on Triller and FITE pay per view.
“He went 12 hard rounds with a younger guy. That's the problem with us fighters. We go for the younger guy. It happened with me and Manny Pacquiao when he kicked my a**. It's not necessarily that when I was at my peak and fought Manny he wasn't the better guy. He was the younger guy with more energy, you know what I'm saying? He looked like an old Manny Pacquiao [versus Ugas], but if he fought someone his age, then he's going to look great.”
When De La Hoya was beaten by Pacquiao throughout an eight-round stoppage, he was 35 years old. Pacquiao was four months away from turning 43 at the time of his loss to Ugas. Regardless of age, the Golden Boy proclaimed that Pacquiao deserves GOAT status for a legendary career that’s spanned over four different decades and titles in eight separate divisions.
“Pacquiao is a legend. He's the best. He'll probably go down as the greatest fighter we've seen, ever,” said De La Hoya. “It was a privilege watching his fight [versus Ugas]. It's probably the end of an era. We enjoyed a great ride, and we wish him all the best.”
De La Hoya soon transitioned into the WBA champion Ugas’ potential in beating WBC and IBF welterweight champion Errol Spence Jr. in a 147-pound unification bout.
“A Spence fight, that's a whole different ball game right there [for Ugas] because you're facing a guy who's younger, stronger, bigger, and has a lot of talent,” said De La Hoya.
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com or on www.ManoukAkopyan.com