PHILIPPINE NEWS SERVICE — THE hype and hoopla now over, work begins for Manny Pacquiao and Oscar De La Hoya as the two head out for their respective training camps in California.
Pacquiao already resumed his preparation for the Dec. 6 fight even before the final stop of their six-city tour promo was held in East Los Angeles last Tuesday.
The Filipino ring idol resumed his work out at the Wild Card gym of trainer Freddie Roach after shooting his part in the 24/7, four-part, pre-fight ‘Countdown’ series produced by HBO for the year’s biggest boxing event.
De La Hoya, reminiscing his childhood days which he spent in the streets of this highly-populated Mexican community, meanwhile revealed he’s heading for Big Bear in California along with his team to start training for the 12-round welterweight showdown dubbed ‘Dream Match.’
Around 5,000 boxing fans greeted the two ring stars at the famed Whittier Boulevard in East L.A., the final stop of their pre-fight promotional tour that took both De La Hoya and Pacquiao in key U.S cities and attractions – from the Statue of Liberty in New York, the Sears Tower in Chicago, the Space Center in Houston, the Alamo in San Antonio to the famous Golden Gate bridge in San Francisco.
Understandably, De La Hoya supporters came in full force, some of whom were from the Oscar De La Hoya Animo Charter High School, a learning institution named after the 35-year-old charismatic boxer.
“I’m just happy to be back in East L.A. where I grew up,” De La Hoya said.
Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum tried to downplay De La Hoya’s Mexican heritage, baring that he has already formed a group called ‘Mexicans for Manny’, a company of Latino fighters from Antonio Margarito, Julio Cesar Chavez and son JC Chavez Jr. to Erik Morales, rooting heavily for a victory by the General Santos City native.
“We want to get as many people of Mexican heritage backing Manny Pacquiao because on December 6, Manny will show he is the greatest fighter in the world,” said Arum, a declaration resisted heavily by the pro-De La Hoya crowd.
A slew of Mexicans including Morales and fellow greats Juan Manuel Marquez and Marco Antonio Barrera, were among the victims of Pacquiao in a ring record that includes 47 wins, three losses including 35 knockouts.
For the nth time, the 29-year-old Filipino lefty stressed that his jump from two weight classes to make the match possible at 147 pounds won’t affect his punching power and skills.
He added that has been the story of his career ever since invading the pro rank in 1993 as a reed-thin flyweight.
Pacquiao cited a similar weight move he did almost a decade ago when he left the flyweight division and jumped straight into the super-bantamweight class.
In his debut at 118 pounds, he scored a sensational second round knockout of fellow Filipino Reynante Jamili, a regular super-bantamweight fighter.
“A lot of people think I’m too small for De La Hoya. I know Oscar is a good fighter. But when I saw his last fight against Steve Forbes, I saw he was not as fast or as strong as before.”
De La Hoya pointed out that notwithstanding the size discrepancy between him and Pacquiao, he said a lot has been lost on the fact that he’s coming down from being a middleweight to welterweight.
The former Barcelona Olympic gold medalist has not fought at 147 pounds since 2001 when he scored a fifth round knockout of Arturo Gatti.
“I think the fact that I’m going down to 147, it’s going to affect me more coming down than him going up,” De La Hoya admitted.