Richard Schaefer: Over the past few weeks, there has been much speculation as to who Oscar will fight in his next fight, on December the 6th. Many opponents have been mentioned. Some of these would have been rematches. Others would have been new challenges..
However, there was only one fight which truly got people talking, some with excitement, others with skepticism, but everyone seems to have an opinion one way or the other about this particular match-up. It’s not just a fight, but truly an event, which already now in this early stage transcends the sport in a way which I have never seen before, including our record-breaking one, which the fight last year between Oscar and Mayweather.
This fight will be a fight between two superstars, between two fighters who have captured the imagination of their people and beyond, two individuals with tremendous charisma, the two most popular fighters in the world, guys which have earned the respect of sports fans around the world because of their relentless style in the ring. Both guys go forward and don’t know how to go back.
Yes, one is bigger, but older, and yes, the other one is faster and younger. Will it be youth and speed over size and skill? Will the older champion be able to yet again win against the current pound-for-pound champion? Yes, the event I’m talking about, and frankly the whole world is talking about, is the dream match-up. The legendary 10-time world champion, Olympic gold medal winner and Olympic hall of famer, without doubt, the face of boxing, Oscar De La Hoya, against a young, fast, (type) division, world champion and reigning pound-for-pound king, Manny Pacquiao.
It is exactly these kind of events which will have boxing again on the front pages, from barbershops to Madison Avenue, from Main Street to Wall Street, the world will be talking. Bob Arum and I had our work certainly cut out on this one, but we pulled it off again.
Golden Boy and Top Rank are continuing to bring the fight fans the best and biggest match-ups, year after year. Just think, 2008, it started with Juan Manuel Marquez versus Manny Pacquiao, and then we have another trailer with Pavlik versus Hopkins on October 18th. And now, to top it all off, this mega-event from Las Vegas, from the MGM Grand on December 6th, live on HBO Pay Per View. It will be De La Hoya versus Pacquiao.
Before I’m going to turn it over to the fighters – yes, we have Oscar and Manny Pacquiao both on the call – it is a pleasure to introduce our co-promoter, the Chairman of Top Rank, Bob Arum. He certainly has a great historic perspective toward this fight, and it is my sincere pleasure to be working with you again, Bob.
Bob Arum: Thank you very much, Richard. I’m thrilled that this fight is taking place, because I have been involved in very – in many, many big fights, but this fight has worldwide implications. It is an American Olympian fighting against the greatest fighter, the greatest athlete, ever to come from the country of the Philippines. And, as someone of my age, I realize what the Philippines has meant to the United States, what it’s meant to the world. The Philippine people fought courageously with the Americans at Bataan and Corregidor in the Second Word War.
The Filipinos are a great fighting people and Manny Pacquiao is their greatest fighter of all, and that’s why this fight will have worldwide interest – forget interest only in New York or California or Chicago. This fight will be watched and talked about by people all over Asia, all over Europe and all over North and South America. This is what boxing is all about.
This fight will demonstrate to everyone that there is no sport universally as popular as the sport of boxing. And that’s why I’m so pleased that Oscar and Manny agreed to engage in this fight and I’m delighted on behalf of Top Rank, again, working together with Richard Schaefer and all the Golden Boy teams.
Richard Schaefer: Thank you, Bob. Now, here is the 10-time world champion, Olympic gold medal winner, the golden boy from East L.A., Oscar De La Hoya.
Oscar De La Hoya: Thank you. Thank you very much, Richard. Thank you very much, Bob. To me, this is a challenge. To me, when a certain person in the boxing industry who is an expert mentioned the possibility last year of fighting Manny Pacquiao, it stuck to my head and it kept on lingering in my head and I kept on thinking about it over the months. And to this day I say to myself, can I really fight Manny Pacquiao and beat the pound-for-pound champion of the world?
Yes, I’m older. Yes, I’m bigger. And yes, he’s younger and he’s the pound-for-pound champion. But when people starting saying, oh, well, Manny can beat you, Manny can knock you out, and especially when Freddie Roach started saying, Oscar can’t pull the trigger or Manny Pacquiao, the fighter I trained, can beat you, it started to become a challenge to me. And now it is very personal, especially when Manny Pacquiao beat all the legendary Mexican fighters from Mexico.
To me, it’s a challenge, and especially because people are talking. People are talking that Manny Pacquiao can beat me. Well, we’ll see December 6th. (Speaking in Spanish)
Richard Schaefer: Thank you, Oscar. Bob, if I could give it back to you.
Bob Arum: Thank you, Richard. Manny Pacquiao, everybody knows the pride of his country in his exploits. Everybody knows that Filipinos all over the world, now eight million of them living outside the Philippines, how they follow Manny’s every move.
But people all over the world who are not Filipinos also now follow Manny Pacquiao and realize what a great young man he is and what a tremendous athlete. So it’s with a great deal of pride that I turn this over to the lightweight champion of the world, the pound-for-pound king in boxing today, Manny Pacquiao.
Manny Pacquiao: Hello, everybody. And what I can say of this fight is I know everybody’s (said) that this fight – it will be a difficult fight for me, but I know. Some people say that it’s a very easy fight for Oscar, but you know what? I always do my job in the ring and I’ve done my best to give a good fight and to win this fight.
I think I can beat De La Hoya, especially what is – I saw his last performance on the last fight and I think I’m faster and stronger than him, and I’m younger. And also I think that I believe I can give him in the way that I – no, no, I did (there) in my last fight. So I think that the point is my speed is going to be a big favor in this fight, but I think that Oscar De La Hoya is – he has an advantage by the height and he’s bigger in height. He’s taller than me, but I believe that I am stronger than him. So it’s going to be a great fight.
Bob Arum: OK, thank you, Manny. Well said, and now I’d turn it back to Richard Schaefer.
Richard Schaefer: Thank you, Bob, and so again it’s official, De La Hoya vs Pacquiao on December 6th, MGM Grand Las Vegas, live on HBO Pay Per View.
Oscar is ringing the bell. We will be announcing more information about the fight, such as the press tour, ticket information and we should be making as well the trainers available for an international conference call, since the teams, both Freddie Roach and Floyd Mayweather are very opinionated about their respective fighters. It will be on doubt a great promotion, lots of incredible promotional activities in the pipeline and we will all make history together to yet again take our sport to never-seen-before heights.
Thank you to the fighters who agreed to this amazing showdown. Thank you, Bob and Top Rank. Thank you to the media and to fight fans, and I have to say as well, thank you to the man who is one of the most knowledgeable experts in the sport, has an impeccable reputation, and yes he is the architecture of this dream match-up, and that is HBO’s legendary expert commentator, Larry Merchant.
Thank you, Larry. We would like to open it now for questions.
Operator: Greg Beacham of “Associated Press.”
Greg Beacham (Associated Press): Hello, Oscar. Hey, we know Manny will have reservations about the size discrepancies in this match-up. What were your reservations about fighting a guy who’s smaller than you like that?
Oscar De La Hoya: Well, I think first of all a lot of people are going to be very surprised when we’re standing next to each other. Size really isn’t going to be that much of a big difference. It’s not going to be like Roy Jones against John Ruiz with the size differential. And I just thought, how can this fight be possible?
But when people started talking, when people started saying, oh, well, Manny can beat you, when the odds came out at two to one, even less than that, when even Freddie Roach started saying, well, Oscar can’t pull the trigger and Manny can knock him out, well, that started getting into my head. It started to become a challenge to me. And these are the type of events that really get me fired up, so I think the size differential isn’t going to be any big deal to Manny or myself. I understand the relentless style that Manny has. I understand the speed he has. So, for me, as a 35-year-old fighter, it really is a big challenge to me.
Greg Beacham: You mentioned Freddie’s comments a couple of times. Did that feel like a betrayal, to have a guy you work with like that say stuff like that?
Oscar De La Hoya: Well, I felt challenged, especially from an expert trainer like Freddie Roach, who trained me and who trains Manny. Obviously, he knows my style and he knows Manny’s. And for him to say that was a big challenge. And if he thinks that I can’t pull the trigger, well, we’ll see December 6th.
Dan Rafael (ESPN): Thanks a lot, everybody. I’ll throw this out to either I guess Richard or Bob. There was a lot of discussion in the lead up to the fight that everything had been agreed on in a very cordial negotiation, down to the split of the fight, that was the big challenge, 70-30, 60-40. What did you settle on?
Bob Arum: Well, I think that – let me just say. Manny has asked me not to at this particular point talk about numbers or percentages or anything like that. Richard and I will confer about whether we’re going to make a statement about that, but I really want to respect Manny’s wishes now and not comment on the purses or any of the financial elements.
Richard Schaefer: I agree with that, and, look, I really don’t think it’s necessary for anyone to know what the split is. The fact is that each fighter wanted to fight, each fighter looks at the fight as a challenge. Each fighter obviously believes they will win and so each fighter in the end of the day had to give a little bit. So it was a give and take and in the end Bob and I were able to put the fight together.
Dan Rafael: OK, Oscar, are you still committed to this being your final fight? You’ve said that many times, essentially when you were putting – after the Steve Forbes fight, is this your last time? Is this the grand finale of a great career?
Oscar De La Hoya: My focus is my training. My focus is my next fight. I’m not going to talk about retirement. I’m not going to think about retirement. I want to be 100 percent focused on the job I have to take care of, and that’s in the ring and we’ll see after the fight how I feel, if it’s my last fight or not. But right now my focus is my training. That’s the number-one priority.
Dan Rafael: OK, so it may not be. You did say many times, Oscar, that it’s your last fight. So if you’re changing of heart, that’s fine. I mean, happy to have you back in the ring, but it sounds like there’s a little crack in the door there that there wasn’t three or four months ago.
Oscar De La Hoya: Well, let’s just say my foot got caught in the door.
Dan Rafael: OK. Manny, when you started your career in such a small weight division, did you ever think the day would come that you would be fighting not only a welterweight fight, but fighting one of the greatest stars of the game?
Manny Pacquiao: When I started my boxing career, I’d never think this fight would happen. This is the (focus) of my boxing career, because this is a visit from God.
Dan Rafael: Did you say a visit from God?
Bob Arum: Like a blessing.
Dan Rafael: A blessing, OK.
Manny Pacquiao: A visit from God. I think this is my (destiny).
Robert Morales (LA Daily News): Hey, Oscar, congratulations on getting this fight done. I know you guys did look very hard on this. I know that as a promoter you work very hard at your job from what (Eric) and Richard and everybody has told me. So I’m wondering, I know that you must have went over all the pros and cons of this fight, right in your mind, during this process.
The pros being that obviously it’s going to be a big event, everybody’s going to make a lot of money, the cons being Oscar perhaps going out on his last fight fighting the smaller guy. I talked to guys like Carlo Palomino and Israel Vasquez, and both of them were concerned about what this might – not for sure, might do to your legacy. What do you see to those people?
Oscar De La Hoya: Well, it’s obviously the implications, I would say, there’s none. This is going to be a tremendous, tremendous fight. I mean, (styles) make fights and this fight here is made to be a war in the ring, so it’s not going to hurt my legacy whatsoever. I’m not saying that I’m retiring. I’m not saying that I’m staying in boxing. I’m just focusing on fighting this fight and winning.
I think my legacy is already cemented. You can’t take back what I’ve accomplished in the ring. So this fight was made because it’s a challenge to me and at the same time it’s a huge event worldwide, so it’s a win-win situation.
Steve Carp (Las Vegas Review Journal). I find it a little ironic that if this is indeed the end of the line and we’re not saying it is, that you and Bob Arum are teaming up again, as you did at the start of your career. Could you talk a little bit about Bob being involved in this promotion, as the man who first got you going as a professional?
Oscar De La Hoya: Absolutely. It’s always a great pleasure to be working with Bob and it’s ironic how things turn around. Bob promoted my career in the beginning and now we’re going to be a part of the biggest event in boxing history towards the end of my career, so it’s always wonderful to work with Bob. And with Golden Boy and Top Rank, we’re going to really have the world talking about this fight. And it’s just up to me and Manny, where I have no doubt we’re going to give the fans what they’re looking for, and that’s a special fight inside that ring.
Steve Carp: Bob, could you comment about being involved, promoting Oscar in one of his fights again, this time at the end of his career?
Bob Arum: Well, Oscar is right. I mean, I always enjoyed promoting Oscar’s fights. We did very, very well together. I have great admiration for him as a fighter, as a person. And I just will do everything possible, my company will, to make this the greatest boxing match ever, and because, as I said in my introductory remarks, it involves persons from two faraway, far-distant continents, this will have worldwide implications and will indeed be the match that will set the standard of our times for big matches.
I mean, Oscar’s fight with Felix Trinidad was a huge fight because it had the great fighter from Puerto Rico against the great fighter from the United States who was of Mexican heritage. But there’s something about this fight with Oscar and Manny that gives it such worldwide attention that I’m really proud to be involved with Oscar and Richard and Manny in presenting this fight, because I think it’s great for the sport of boxing.
Steve Carp: Richard, real fast, can you just go over some of the other details. They are fighting at 147 and they are using eight-ounce gloves and just the little things like that? Can you just confirm some of those details?
Richard Schaefer: Yes, you just said it. They will be eight-ounce gloves. They will be at 147 pounds. There will be a big press (to) announce soon. We’re going to try to incorporate promotional tools and ideas which really haven’t been used before. So it’s going to be a very exciting promotion. If you have with Top Rank and Golden Boy the two leading boxing promoters working together, I think then you have the two most popular fighters. And there is a reason why they are the most popular, because their style and their charisma, I think you put all these ingredients together, I have to say, I am so excited about this promotion and this fight.
Steve Carp: Will it be Nevada judges and referees from Nevada, or will it be a mixed judging group?
Bob Arum: Well, that’s really up to the Nevada Commission. It’s a great commission in Nevada. Richard and I and all the participants have great respect for it. So whatever the commission decides to do we’ll go along with because I think it is the leading boxing commission in the world.
Johnny Falgoust (USA Today): Hi, thanks. I have a question for Manny and for Oscar. Manny, you said you would expect this fight to go along the lines of your fight with Manny Pacquiao with David Diaz. Does that mean you’re expecting to knock out Oscar?
Manny Pacquiao: Well, I’m not saying that I’m going to knock out Oscar. I will do my best. He gave a good fight, a real good fight, and you know what? What I believe is I am faster than De La Hoya and I think I can box him in the fight.
(Johnny Falgoust): And, Oscar, some of the toughest fights in your career has been against speed guys, from Mayweather to Shane Mosley and whatnot. Do you find that you have to fight Manny – do you think your size difference, though, is somehow going to allow you to neutralize that, or do you feel like you have to do something different to Manny Pacquiao than you did with some of these other guys?
Oscar De La Hoya: Well, I mean, first of all, for a fighter – I do have to change my style around. I do have to adjust to his speed. I know he’s a strong fighter. I know he’s a very powerful puncher with both hands. But I think the tricky part about it is going to be the speed, so I have to figure out a way to pull the trigger the way Freddie Roach said. We have to work on all that, and I have to find a way to increase my speed in that ring.
So it’s going to be – I have quite a task in front of me. We’re three months away and we have to figure out quick how we’re going to neutralize him, because it’s going to be an explosive fight, that’s for sure, because my pride and Manny’s pride, we’re going to fight in the center of the ring. So we just have to figure out how we can be faster than many that night.
(Johnny Falgoust): Is it going to be as simple, though, Oscar, as just staying behind your jabs, because jabs neutralize speed and you used it against Mayweather. It didn’t work too hot. Is it something as simplistic as that?
Oscar De La Hoya: Well, yes, it’s something as simple as that, but I also have to keep in mind that Manny Pacquiao is a southpaw. So in the past the southpaw fighters that I have fought I really haven’t done very well with, so this is not going to be an easy fight. I have no intentions of taking it easy in the gym. I have no intentions of looking for this fight to be easy. I mean, this is going to be very difficult, because this will be the strongest, fastest southpaw fighter I’ve ever faced, and just because he’s the pound-for-pound champion.
Jim Hill (KCBS-TV):Oscar, congratulations and good luck to you, buddy. There’s a two-part question I have for you today, Oscar. If indeed you have – if this isn’t your last fight, when did you change your mind about this not being your last fight, and how will you keep from being so sentimental with all of those things floating around this particular fight?
Oscar De La Hoya: Well, I just don’t want it to be the focus of this fight. I don’t want to think about it, I don’t want to talk about it. I have made some comments in the past, but my focus is the training. My focus is the fight.
My job is to get prepared the best possible to be in the best shape ever, so I’m not going to talk about retirement anymore, I’m not going to mention it. After the fight, then we will decide on how we’re going to go about it, but right now the focus is the fight.
And to your second question, can you repeat that second question, Jim?
Jim Hill: Yes, Oscar, with all the talk about possible retirement, how will you keep that from distracting you in getting totally ready for this fight, because there is a certain amount of sentimentality that goes along with that?
Oscar De La Hoya: Yes, exactly. Well, it’s going to be very difficult. I know, but once we’re in the gym, once we’re letting punches fly and once we’re sparring and once I start feeling great with my speed and my power and when I’m with Mayweather and things are going great, you forget about all that. You start thinking about, hey, I can fight 10 more times. So it’s going to be the focus. The focus is going to be training, fighting and winning, and then we’ll take it from there.
Jim Hill: Oscar, there’s all kinds of saying that goes with boxing about one of them is about going to the well one too many times. Are you at all concerned about that?
Oscar De La Hoya: Oh, absolutely. My wife and I talked about it this morning. A lot of fighters tend not to retire because there is another big payday along the way. The great thing about me is I know that I can still do this. I know that my reflexes are still there. I know that my speed and my power is still there, but I also realize that it’s towards the end of the career. So that’s why I made the preparations in order to make it an easy transition from fighting to retiring.
So it’s just I’m going to focus on the training and the fighting and, like I said, we’ll take it from there.
Rafael Ramos (La Opinion) (Speaking in Spanish)
Oscar De La Hoya: (Speaking in Spanish) Translation: He asked me if this fight will in Mexico take me, or around the world take me to be compared in the likes of the Chavez’s and the Salvador Sanchez’s coming from Mexico? I said no. Chavez and Salvador Sanchez, (Roveno Vivarez), they will always be great legends in Mexico. And it’s nice that they can mention my name next to theirs, but I will never compare Chavez and these other great fighters from Mexico will always be the greatest legends to ever come out of Mexico.
And I also had the opportunity to invite all the great legends, living legends from Mexico, to come to the fight. So they will all be at ringside, cheering me on for this fight.
Lee Samuels: Bob and Richard, we got some news come in from MGM Mirage and Sports Book and they’ve opened this very, very tight, Oscar is an eight to five favorite.
Bob Arum: Wait until the Filipino money comes in.
Richard Schaefer: Well, I think that says it all and I think that’s a great way to actually end this conference call. It will be an amazing showdown and we are looking forward to see you all in the press tour, and of course then on December 6th at the MGM. Thank you so much.
Bob Arum: Thank you all again. Go to sleep, Manny (who participated on the call at 2:30am Philippines time).
Olympic gold medalist and 10-time world champion “The Golden Boy” OSCAR DE LA HOYA will face current Ring Magazine No. 1-ranked pound for pound champion MANNY “Pacman” PACQUIAO on Saturday, December 6 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada in a bout that will be produced and distributed live by HBO Pay-Per-View. Presented by Golden Boy Promotions and Top Rank, Inc., the bout will be a 12-round, non-title fight contested at the 147-pound welterweight limit. This exciting and intriguing match-up pits two of the most recognizable and popular talents in the sport today in what will surely be the grand finale of the 2008 boxing calendar year.