I remember making my way to the MGM Grand Arena back on December 6, 2008. A nice escape from the Winnipeg winter. Instead of manoeuvering around ice and snow, I was zig-zagging around a traffic jam of tourists making the same journey. It was fight night in Las Vegas and not just any fight. It was billed the Dream Match. The “Golden Boy” Oscar De La Hoya had just defeated Steve Forbes and was looking for another fight on his quest to avenge a split decision loss to Floyd Mayweather. Unfortunately, Mayweather had retired which left De La Hoya scrambling to find an opponent.
Enter Manny Pacquiao. After eight straight wins, HBO and ESPN suggested that fighting Pacquiao would be the best option and De La Hoya agreed. De La Hoya moved down a weight class where the rising Filipino star would move up two. Hardly a fair fight. As I continued my way to the arena, nightclub promoters were trying to get me to attend their “De La Hoya victory party” once the fight was over. I smiled and kept walking. It was the last time Manny Pacquiao walked to ring as an underdog as Vegas sports books had De La Hoya as a big favorite considering it as a mismatch. Pacquiao cruised to a technical knockout victory after the 8th round and made the legendary De La Hoya quit on his stool refusing to take any more punishment. The Filipino fighter rose to superstar status that night and shortly after, Floyd Mayweather came out of retirement.
Fast forward six and a half years and Mayweather and Pacquiao’s paths will finally cross. Mayweather’s undefeated record remains intact and will face his stiffest challenge to date. Pacquiao has become one of the most decorated fighters in boxing history winning titles in eight divisions. When he walks to the ring in less than two weeks, the fighting Congressman will once again be labelled as an underdog. It’s a role that he remembers when he fought De La Hoya.
“I can easily beat Floyd Mayweather, I believe that,” Pacquiao tweeted. “Everyone had me as an underdog to Oscar De La Hoya, too. If Floyd Mayweather fights me, boxing will get an even bigger upset victory.”
After a controversial loss to Timothy Bradley and a knockout by rival Juan Manuel Marquez. Many questioned if Pacquiao would get his shot at Floyd Mayweather. Pacman dominated in his next three fights and Mayweather continued outclassing anyone that stood in his way. There was no other fight left to be made except pitting the two against each other. It was the only fight the world wanted to see. On May 2nd, Pacquiao will finally get his shot at Mayweather and history might repeat itself. The underdog might come out the victor and shock the world once more.
After the De La Hoya fight, I walked back to my hotel room and passed the same club promoting the fight after party. The promoter recognized me and I leaned in and asked if it was the “De La Hoya victory party or the De La Hoya retirement party”. He had a good laugh.
Prediction: Manny Pacquiao stops Floyd Mayweather in the eighth round.