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Pound-for-pound champ proves it

Weight wasn’t an issue as Pacquiao easily defeats De La Hoya

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Steve Marcus

Manny Pacquiao connects with Oscar De La Hoya their ‘Dream Match’ at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday night. Pacquiao won with an eighth-round TKO.

Updated Saturday, Dec. 6, 2008 | 11:11 p.m.

Dream Comes True for Pacquiao

Manny Pacquiao defeated Oscar De La Hoya in the long awaited "Dream Match" at the MGM Grand Garden Arena on Saturday night. Pacquiao won with an eighth-round TKO.

De La Hoya-Pacquiao

Manny Pacquiao celebrates his victory over Oscar De La Hoya after their welterweight Launch slideshow »

This was no dream.

Manny Pacquiao, boxing's pound-for-pound champ, proved it once again as he did everything but put the sport's "Golden Boy" to sleep in front of 15,001 adrenaline-filled fans at the MGM Grand Garden Arena Saturday night.

Pacquiao, the legendary Filipino fighter who moved up two weight classes to make the heavily promoted 'Dream Match' with Oscar De La Hoya, proved the much talked about weight issue was just that — talk. Pacquiao thoroughly dominated the fight throughout, relentlessly attacking De La Hoya in the later rounds and forcing the fight to be stopped by referee Tony Weeks after the eighth round when De La Hoya's corner threw in the towel.

"Our dream came true tonight," said Pacquiao's trainer Freddie Roach, who admitted his satisfaction in defeating De La Hoya, who he had a falling out with after training the 10-time champ for his fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. last year.

"It was no surprise that we won to me. I knew we had him after the first round. He had no legs, he was hesitant and he was shot."

Pacquiao's promoter and Top Rank chief Bob Arum echoed what many media members had said all along, that the fight was a mismatch.

“The media, the press is never wrong,” Arum said with some stinging sarcasm. “You all said it was a mismatch and it was a mismatch.”

Pacquiao (48-3-2, 36 knockouts), who put the finishing touches on one of the most sensational achievements in boxing history, upsetting De La Hoya (39-6) at 147 pounds in the same year he won world championship fights at super featherweight (130) and lightweight (135), said his speed was the difference.

"That's what we were focused on every day in the gym, speed, speed would be the key to this fight," said Pacquiao, who despite being a 2-to-1 underdog at the MGM sports book landed 224 punches compared to De La Hoya's 83. "I was able to defend his jab. I was connecting with everything, he was connecting with nothing."

"I trained hard for this fight, and that's why I deserve tonight."

A bloodied De La Hoya, who went directly to the hospital after the fight, didn't disagree.

"He's the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world. He was a better man tonight and he deserves all he has accomplished in his career," De La Hoya said.

The vibrant Pacquaio will likely received handsome dividends for his handling of De La Hoya in the near future too. The impressive pounding of De La Hoya and the much publicized pound-for-pound status already had reporters asking about mega-fight rumors with Ricky Hatton or Mayweather Jr., if he comes out of retirement.

Pacquiao said if the situation was right with Hatton, he'd certainly take the fight.

"I can fight him, no problem," said Pacquiao of Hatton, who was sitting ringside. "If it's a good deal we can fight him anywhere he wants."

De La Hoya — who received the most punishment from the heavier Pacquiao (while weight was one of the biggest points of contentions in the bout, Paquiao weighed a full pound and half heavier at 148.5 Saturday night) in the sixth, seventh and eighth rounds, when his speed and strength overpowered and heavily damaged the "Pride of East L.A." — didn't disagree with his corner's decision to stop the fight.

"I stopped the fight because I didn't want him to leave his greatness in the ring," said De La Hoya's trainer Nacho Beristain. "Oscar was in good condition, but he couldn't control Manny's southpaw stance or style.

"He wasn't able to stop him. He just didn't seem to have the strength tonight."

De La Hoya admitted as much as he embraced his former trainer, Roach, after the fight.

"Freddie, you're right. I just don't have it anymore," said De La Hoya, who received polite applause as he exited the arena for what could be his last time as a fighter.

If it was the end to a brilliant career, Pacquiao was grateful for the opportunity De La Hoya helped give him. Not only was it the largest guaranteed purse of his career at $11 million, HBO's expected number of 1.5 million pay-per-view buys or more will likely mean that number doubles.

"You're still my idol," Pacquiao told the surefire Hall of Famer.

"No, you're my idol," the battered De La Hoya replied.

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Filipinos wave a Philippine flag as they celebrate the victory of Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao over Oscar De La Hoya while they watch it beamed live via satellite at the Tondo Sports Complex in Manila, Philippines on Sunday Dec. 7, 2008. From five-star hotel lounges and army camps to Manila's burgeoning slums, Filipinos gathered in huge numbers to cheer the country's boxing icon, as officials say the victory provided the country a momentary respite from financial worries.

Round-by-Round Updates (8:45 p.m.)

Ninth Round: Never happened. De La Hoya's corner throws in the towel as Tony Weeks calls a halt to the bout. Pacquaio has once again bolstered his already strong reputation as the best boxer in the sport at any weight. He exults with his fans as his cornermen embrace and the celebration begins inside the arena begins.

Eighth Round: De La Hoya's corner tends to his eyes and cheeks, which are swollen and puffy from the punishment Pacquiao is dealing out. Pacquiao remains in control, alternating quick jabs and effective straight lefts. Pacquiao goes a little low on a body shot, but the referee's view is blocked. Pacquiao lands a clean, sharp straight left to De La Hoya's jaw and follows with a flurry of combinations, summarily flustering De La Hoya. Pacquiao drives De La Hoya into the corner yet again and finishes with a flourish. Pacquiao's round.

Seventh Round: Whistles and cheers from the fans, who sense the second half of the fight could make this one a classic after a compelling first six rounds. Pacquiao stays busy and active, controlling the tempo and refusing to allow De La Hoya to establish his game. Pacquiao alternately works the head and the body of De La Hoya, landing clean shots in both places. Pacquiao batters De La Hoya in the corner as the crowd goes nuts. Pacquiao forces De La Hoya into another corner and moves in to try to finish it off. De La Hoya ends up in a third corner and is in serious trouble. De La Hoya survives the round, but it's a huge one for Pacquiao.

Sixth Round: A chant for "Manny!" rings out early in the round before De La Hoya's fans respond with an "Oscar" chant of their own. Both fighters land their share of shots in a couple of fast and furious exchanges. Pacquiao, more than holding his own against his larger opponent, pops a couple of straight lefts. De La Hoya's face is showing visible damage from Pacquiao's shots. Pacquiao wins another round.

Fifth Round: Fans are giddy, thirsting for an early knockout. Pacquiao tries to keep the momentum, but De La Hoya clocks him with a right, the best punch in the early part of the round. Pacquiao catches De La Hoya with a powerful combination and keeps the rally going with a series of straight lefts and uppercuts. Working off the jab, Pacquiao keeps the pressure on with his stinging left. De La Hoya catches Pacquiao in the final minute but the smaller man recovers easily. Round for Pacquiao.

Fourth Round: Pacquiao tries to keep De La Hoya off-balance with his jab, then follows with a cleanly left hand. Pacquiao is looking extremely quick and appearst to be frustrating De La Hoya with his shots from both hands. De La Hoya is landing some shots, but Pacquiao is countering well. Another rally by Pacquiao, who hears is name being repeated over and over by the crowd, in the final minute. Pacquiao's round.

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Manny Pacquiao of Philippines connects with Oscar De La Hoya of the U.S during their 'Dream Match' at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Third Round: Pacquiao continues to set a fast pace, landing a solid straight left, then another, before firing several jabs in a row. De La Hoya counters by bringing his jab into play. The crowd is constantly reacting, every single head is glued to the ring. Many people in the building are throwing their own air punches. De La Hoya throws a couple of rights, then lands a left to the body. De La Hoya keeps Pacquiao on the run with his jabs. De La Hoya with another right to the body. Pacquiao sticks a combination before De La Hoya finishes strong to take the round.

Second Round: The fans are roaring with every punch thrown. De La Hoya again forces the smaller man back, but Pacquiao responds in kind, showing his hand speed. A chant of “Manny” rings out. They trade hard body shots. Pacquiao leads with a double jab followed by a straight left, then another combination. Another straight left lands flush on De La Hoya's face. De La Hoya works in a couple of heavy jabs, but Pacquiao earns the round.

First Round: They touch gloves, and it's on. The fighters feel each other out, then clinch. De La Hoya fires an uppercut. De La Hoya is swatting away Pacquiao's shots. Fans are on their feet throughout. A chant of “Oscar” early on gave way to pure excitement. De La Hoya goes to the body; Pacquiao lands a straight left. De La Hoya backs him up into the ropes with a flurry of punches. Pacquiao lands another left, but De La Hoya counters with a combination. De La Hoya finishes strong to win the round. The bell sounds, everyone is on their feet.

Prefight

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Actor Russell Crowe, left, greets comedian George Lopez prior to Oscar De La Hoya's welterweight boxing match against WBC lightweight champion Manny Pacquiao in Las Vegas on Saturday, Dec. 6, 2008.

The atmosphere is quite electric inside the MGM today, even three-plus hours before the “Dream Match” between Manny Pacquiao and Oscar De La Hoya.

Few people are actually in the arena watching the non-televised undercard fights, but the casino floor is full of activity.

The main lobby was a boxing fan’s paradise lined with vendors selling merchandise not only for Saturday’s mega-fight (c’mon, you just can’t live without a black “Dream Match” tee), but as well as other signature boxer’s shirts and various other swag.

Tourists line up around the make-shift ring that served as De La Hoya’s media pedestal during his grand entrance on Tuesday to take snapshots with the MGM’s oversized gold lion mascot.

One individual was the owner of an absurdly oversized boxing glove that looked like it had every fighter’s signature that ever fought in the emerald-colored casino that opened in 1993.

The people walking around the property on the Strip represent just about every genre possible. Many are of Hispanic or Filipino descent, a mirror of the two boxers that will do battle later today.

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Singer Keyshai Cole performs the American National Anthem before the Oscar De La Hoya versus Manny Pacquiao welterweight boxing fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

Others passer-bys clearly haven’t been that hurt by America’s economic plight as lavish evening gowns and Armani suits jump to the front of the line at the MGM’s high-end restaurants.

A hundred or so yards down from the fancy eateries, a mariachi band has gathered quite a crowd. Sorry, make that the Tecate girls prancing around in skimpy boxing robes.

Several views are obstructed by the abundance of cowboy hats in the building, a constant reminder of the National Finals Rodeo that is taking place just miles away at UNLV’s Thomas & Mack Center.

Several sports fans were visibly upset inside the MGM’s sports book. Not because De La Hoya had moved back up to a minus 185 favorite, rather the outcome of Florida’s 11-point (the spread was 10) victory over No. 1 Alabama. (Sidebar: A KO by Pacquiao in the first through third rounds will net a 45-to-1 payback. Just saying!).

Meanwhile inside the MGM Grand Garden Arena ...

Moments after ring announcer Michael Buffer announced the first fights of the main card, the growing number of fans inside the MGM arena clapped when HBO's cameras showed Manny Pacquiao entering the casino via a back entrance.

After Jacobs dispensed Lares, a memorial 10-count was given in honor of veteran referee Toby Gibson, who died last week at age 61.

The big screens just showed "Sugar" Shane Mosley calling for an eighth-round KO by "The Golden Boy."

MMA big mouth Tito Ortiz also picked De La Hoya in the eighth. It was hard to tell if there were more boos or cheers and whether or not the reaction was directed at Ortiz or his pick.

The HBO screens are showing De La Hoya getting his hands taped up. it was a point of contention by Pacquiao's trainer Freddie Roach after Friday's weigh-in because a certain style of wrapping can cause cause cuts easier.

ESPN staffers appear to be split on their winner. Yahoo's Steve Cofield has a run-down of what other media members are predicting. Your Sun authors both pick De La Hoya. Haney says the 11th, Samuelson the ninth.

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Boxer Ricky Hatton looks on prior to Saturday's match between Manny Pacquiao and Oscar De La Hoya at the MGM Grand Garden Arena. While Pacquiao wouldn't say what his future plans are after the fight, the rumors have already started about a potential match-up between the two.

OK, time for the real fight. Who has bigger star power inside the MGM:

The Boxers (Thomas Hearns, Ricky Hatton, David Haye, Bernard Hopkins, Antonio Margarito, Juan Manuel Marquez, Shane Mosely, Mike Tyson and Winky Wright).

or

The Celebs (Marc Anthony and wife Jennifer Lopez, Russell Crowe, George Lopez, Mario Lopez, NBA stars Magic Johnson, Charles Barkley and Reggie Miller, San Diego Charger Antonio Gates, Mark Wahlberg and Usher).

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Actress Eva Longoria Parker claps prior to Oscar De La Hoya's welterweight boxing match against WBC lightweight champion Manny Pacquiao.

You be the judge?

Heck, even Nevada’s very own, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, is in the house.

But enough talk, it's finally time to box.

After both the Filipino national anthem and Mexican national anthem were sung, Keyshia Cole belted out the American National anthem.

A few minutes of HBO's coverage of the fight and special "24-7" scenes helped to cut the building tension before the two fighters made their way to the ring.

Pacquiao entered to Queen's "We Will Rock You"

De La Hoya walked into his traditional "Sangre Caliente."

And "Lets get ready to Rumble" bellowed Michael Buffer, before introducing each boxer. Pacquiao received a huge ovation from the packed house.

So too did De La Hoya, who closed as a 2-to-1 favorite (De La Hoya minus-200, Pacquiao plus-170) at the MGM book.

Maincard results

Victor Ortiz vs. Jeffrey Resto

Ortiz (23-1-1, 18 KOs) made short work of Resto (22-3) of the Bronx, N.Y., in the featured undercard bout, scoring three knockdowns on the way to a second-round TKO victory. Ortiz, of Oxnard, Calif., relied on a stiff straight left hand in retaining his NABO junior welterweight championship. After Resto went down for the third time, referee Russell Mora stopped the fight at 1:19 of Round 2.

Richie Mepranum vs. Sergio Medina

In a swing bout in the flyweight division, Mepranum (15-2-1, 3 KOs) won a six-round unanimous decision against Lopez (20-7).

Juan Manuel Lopez vs. Sergio Medina

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Victor Ortiz of California poses for a photo after his second round TKO victory over Jeffery Resto of New York following a junior welterweight fight at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday, December 6, 2008.

Lopez (24-0, 22 KOs) of Caguas, P.R., retained his WBO junior featherweight title with a first-round TKO of Medina (33-2) of Salta, Argentina. Lopez sent Medina to the canvas three times before referee Joe Cortez called it off at the 1:38 mark.

Daniel Jacobs vs. Victor Lares

In the first fight on the evening's pay-per-view telecast, super middleweight Daniel Jacobs (13-0, 12 KOs) of Brooklyn, N.Y., stayed unbeaten with a second-round stoppage of Victor Lares (14-4) of Corpus Christi, Texas. Referee Jay Nady called a halt to the bout at the 2:44 mark after Jacobs scored the fight's lone knockdown.

Undercard results

Jesus Rojas vs. Jose Angel Beranza

Beranza (10-0, 7 KOs) won by unanimous decision, picking up scores of 78-74, 79-73 and 80-72 in a junior welterweight contest.

Adrien Broner vs. Scott Furney

Broner (5-0, 5 KOs) may never want to leave the MGM. Two weeks ago the Cincinnati native picked up a win on the Ricky Hatton-Paulie Malignaggi undercard. Today he TKO'd Furney in the first round of their lightweight bout.

Roberto Marroquin vs. Isaac Hidalgo

Marroquin (5-0, 4 KOs) got the electric night started with a knockout, disposing of Hidalgo at the 2:48 mark of the first round of their super bantamweight fight. .

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