THE RISE OF A LEGEND : ‘Death by a thousand left hands'’

This is a look back at some of Manny's career defining fights in the lead up to his blockbuster bout vs Tim Bradley coming up on the 12th April. We start with Manny ending Oscar De La Hoya's career with his win in 2008. Oscar was 35 at the time, the same age as Manny will be vs Bradley.....

Manny Pacquiao vs Oscar De La Hoya  (2008)

Professional boxing is unique in the world of sports. It is extremely demanding physically, mentally and skill wise. But unlike other sports, prizefighting cannot survive without drama. Part sport part theatre. As De La Hoya said before this fight “you’ve never been on the big stage unless you’ve fought Oscar”. Going into the fight ‘Golden Boy’ Oscar De La hoya was the comfortable favorite with the bookmakers and an overwhelming favorite among ‘experts’. With a substantial height, weight and reach advantage people thought it preposterous that Mannny Pacquiao, who was at the time ranked as the top pound for pound fighter in the world, could handle De La Hoya……...The stage was set. 
Prizefighting cannot survive without drama, nor it 
seems can Manny Pacquiao.
In contrast to the pre fight talk the fight was a blow out from the very beginning in favour of the ‘underdog’. A showpiece for Manny’s famous straight left cross punch. “Death by a thousand left hands” was what Larry Merchant famously called it. The following highlight video shows many examples of these left hands being thrown with a number of variations. Watch as Manny very deliberatley keeps his lead right foot on the outside of Oscar’s lead left foot. His straight left punch is therefore lined up perfectly with his target, right between Oscar’s wide guard for the shot straight down the pipe to the head. If De La Hoya tried to counter off this Manny would use his quicker feet to back up or step off to the right to avoid the punches. To be able to move your feet quickly after throwing a power punch is not an easy thing to do, requiring great balance, co-ordination and timing. It is one of the many things that separates a great fighter from a merely good one. By this stage of their carreer’s Manny’s footspeed was too much for Oscar who could never find Manny to get his feet set and throw power punches. Any time Oscar didn’t try to counter Manny’s lead left cross, Manny would read the situation and throw in a right hook.

To be able to move your feet quickly after throwing a power punch is not an easy thing to do. It's one of the things that separates great fighters from the rest.

Manny never put too much power on his punches, but just enough to wear down De La Hoya who was constantly trying to pressure the smaller man to no avail. Eventually De La Hoya did tire and the tables were turned. This was the young and ruthless Manny continuing his rise to legendary status and he was relentless in his subsequent stalking beatdown of Oscar. In the 7th and 8th rounds De La Hoya was flat out of ideas of how to adjust to Manny’s speed and movement and could do nothing but stand helplessly in the corner while Manny continuously pounded him, eventually leading to Oscar’s corner stopping the fight after the 8th.
This is what a pound for pound king is supposed to do. Not just beat, but destroy everyone in his path.

This was the clear ending of an era for one aged boxing alpha male and the rise of another. Prizefighting cannot survive as a sporting spectacle alone, there must be authentic drama both in and out of the ring and this fight certainly delivered. Outside the ring the talk was of De La Hoya dominanting the smaller man but inside it was a one sided show piece for Manny’s skill against a faded superstar and the beatdown was dramatic. This is what a pound for pound king is supposed to do. That is, not just beat, but destroy everyone in his path.

No comments:

Post a Comment