DE LA HOYA vs. PACQUIAO

December 6, 2008 // 9 p.m. ET/ 6 p.m. PT (HBO PPV)

De La Hoya-Pacquiao // MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas

BEHIND - THE - SCENES BLOG

Al Bello/Getty Images
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Steve Samoyedny/FightWireImages.com
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Kasprowicz/FightWireImages.com
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Johannes Simon/Bongarts/Getty Images
Chris Farina/Top Rank
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong
Romeo Gacad/AFP/Getty Images)
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Kieran Mulvaney
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong
Andres Mendoza/ESPNDeportes.com
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Gene Blevins/WireImage
AP Photo
George Marks/Getty Images
Fotos International/Archive Photos/Getty Images
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
AP Photos/Bebeto Matthews
John Gichigi/Getty Images
Ed Mulholland/US Presswire
Denise Truscello/WireImage
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Chris Farina/Top Rank
AP Photo/Mary Altaffer
Chris Cozzone/Fightwireimages.com
Mike Powell/Getty Images
Amy Sussman/AP Photo
AP Photo
Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Carlo Bavagnoli//Time Life Pictures/Getty Images
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong
AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian
John Kobal Foundation/Getty Images
Carlo Allegri/Getty Images
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
AP Photo
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
AP Photo/ Louis Lanzano
AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
AP/Kevork Djansezian
AP Photo/Laura Rauch
AP/Eric Jamison
telebisyon.net
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill
Brian Jones/AFP/Getty Images
Al Bello /Allsport
Gene Blevins/Hoganphotos
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong
Chris Farina/Top Rank
Ethan Miller/Getty Images
AP Photo/Isaac Brekken
Tony Linck/Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images
Ed Mulholland/FightWireImages.com
AP Photo
AP Photo


Saturday, 10:45 p.m. ET -- Celebs in the house

Marc Anthony
Jennifer Lopez
Mark Wahlberg
Eva Longoria
Usher
Russell Crowe

Boxing royalty:
Israel Vazquez
Kevin Kelley
Rafael Marquez
Juan Manuel Marquez
David Haye
Juan Diaz
Monte Barrett
Steven Luevano
Winky Wright
Thomas Hearns
Mike Tyson
Ricky Hatton
Shane Mosley
Antonio Margarito
Bernard Hopkins
And from the incoming Obama administration: Commerce Secretary-designate Bill Richardson.

The arena is filling up, the main event approaches. I now prepare to hand you over to Darius "Blow-by-Blow" Ortiz.

It has been a fun week. Thanks for reading, and thanks for all your e-mails.

The blog has left the building.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET -- Abuzz buzz buzz

Jimmy Hale in Texas asks: "How abuzz is the crowd there in Vegas tonight and who do you get a feel for who the ones at ringside are pulling for?"

Jimmy, to answer the first part of your question first: the crowd is great, a really nice buzz and a feeling of a genuinely nice crowd. It's the kind of big fight atmosphere that's a pleasure to be around.

After the Juan Manuel Lopez wipeout, I decided to venture out into the casino for some "atmosphere." So great was the stream of people coming in the opposite direction ready to take their seats that I thought to myself, "Atmosphere? I don't need no stinking atmosphere," and sat back down.

As for the second part of the question: there are certainly a lot of Filipino fans here, and they are always enthusiastic in their support for Manny Pacquiao. The crowd at the second Pacquiao-Erik Morales bout was the loudest I have experienced. It was like putting your head in a jet engine (I imagine). But De La Hoya is still the Golden Boy, and I imagine he will enjoy the bulk of the support in the arena.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Saturday, 10 p.m. ET -- Ortiz

The undercard fights are all over bar one, the co-main event between Victor Ortiz and Jeffrey Resto.

I bumped into Rollando Arellano, co-manager of Ortiz (at least until and unless Bob Arum has anything to say about it).

"It's a big fight for Victor," he said. "This guy [Resto], he's a good boxer, and I expect him to move around a bit. Victor's going to have to do something a little different, patiently work the body, and not lunge at him. If he does well, then we know we have a young star."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Saturday, 9:35 p.m. ET -- How bad could it be?

John Lunan asks me if a loss for Oscar De La Hoya "is as damaging as they say it would be." He writes: "I have seen a lot of analysts say that a loss for De La Hoya tonight could be devastating. I know Manny is inexperienced in terms of fighting at this weight class, but I think his attitude and training going into this fight make him extremely dangerous!"

In short, John, yes, I do think a loss would be tremendously damaging for De La Hoya. He already has a reputation, not completely deserved, of failing to win his biggest fights, and that reputation would be irredeemably cemented with a loss against a smaller man like Pacquiao tonight. It would be very difficult to see how even Boxing's ATM Machine could keep going should he lose this one.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Saturday, 9:30 p.m. ET -- Roach

Kevin Beam writes to ask: "How much of an effect do you think Freddie Roach having been in Oscar De La Hoya's corner in the past will have on the fight? He seems to think he knows some secret weakness. Do you think it's just cornerman rhetoric or is there something to it?"

Good question, Kevin. Certainly, Nacho Beristain doesn't seem to think there is anything to it. And, of course, Roach was only with De La Hoya for one fight. Still, he certainly believes, more than anything, that he knows why De la Hoya stopped throwing the jab against Floyd Mayweather last May, and how he can make him stop throwing it again.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Saturday, 9:25 p.m. ET -- Selling the fight

One of the big sponsors of this fight, and increasingly of boxing in general, is Tecata beer, which makes sense given that it focuses its advertising squarely at a demographic that provides the bedrock of boxing support in the United States: Hispanics, and specifically, the Mexican community.

This week, Tecate staged public events with a mobile boxing ring at retail outlets in Hispanic areas of Las Vegas, featuring Juan Manuel Marquez and Sergio Mora. And it is offering a $20 mail-in rebate toward the pay-per-view with special purchases at participating locations.

The notion, of course, is that, as with all such deals, the partnership is mutually beneficial. Consumers see the commemorative cans advertising the fight, are reminded of the event's existence, and are perhaps encouraged by the rebate to buy the PPV. For Tecate, the benefit is obvious, in that it places the brand front and center among its key demographic, and beyond.

Having made a commitment to boxing, Tecate's Carlos Broughton says, it is in Tecate's own interest to help the sport grow. "The bigger the sport gets, the better off we're going to be. The more big stars it has, the better off we're going to be. The more interesting the watching experience becomes, the better off we're going to be."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Saturday, 9:20 p.m. ET -- This must be big

This must be a big event. More than 1,300 media credentials have been issued -- a huge number, including for the kind of outlets you don't normally expect to find ringside.

My buddy Doug Elfman, an arts and culture columnist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, is here to soak up the atmosphere and write about the big fight scene. And Vanity Fair, certainly famed for its fight writing, has been publishing a series of articles on the event, culminating in the fight itself.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Saturday, 9:10 p.m. ET -- Fun with Uncle Bert

If you want to make it across the MGM Grand in a hurry, don't walk with Bert Sugar. The first few times fans stop him for photographs, he responds graciously. By the time the fifth or sixth photograph has been taken, and he still hasn't moved forward 10 feet, he becomes increasingly irascible.

And you want to be sure to get a rise out of him? Ask him, "Hey Bert, who ya got?"

"Whom do I suspect will win?" he invariably responds with mild grammatical reproach.

Guaranteed hilarity.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Saturday, 9 p.m. ET -- The buzz

The arena is still quiet, but the rest of the casino sure isn't.

For the first time in quite some time, there's a nice buzz on the Las Vegas Strip, and it's centered on the MGM Grand. Outside the entrance to the Grand Garden Arena, a mariachi band is playing. Crowds of people are ambling slowly through the casino; I normally find this a considerable annoyance, particularly when I am anxious to get from Point A to Point B, but on this occasion I have holstered my inner grinch in recognition of the fact that it's a sign that this is a big event.

And, to the undoubted contentment of the good people of MGM Mirage, when there's a big fight in town, there's plenty of other activity. The tables are busy, and the clubs are already humming.

The great thing is, as I mentioned earlier this week, there is no edge to this crowd. It's a happy, excited fight crowd, which is always the way with Pacquiao fights in particular.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Saturday, 8:10 p.m. ET -- More mail

Keep the e-mails coming in to kieranAKVegas@gmail.com. I'll answer as many as I can between now and the main event.

Here's one from Cesar, who asks: "How is it going, Kieran? What direct paths do you see after Saturday night for each fighter? [Floyd] Money [Mayweather] for Golden Boy if he wins or a fight from with the mauler from Manchester, Ricky Hatton? Also if PacMan wins would he fight Hatton? Your the best, Kieran."

I think you hit the nail on the head Cesar. Ricky Hatton is sitting in the catbird seat, the overwhelming favorite to land a fight with the winner, but you can't rule out the prospect of a rested Floyd Mayweather wanting to come back and get himself back into the mix. I can picture a scenario of Mayweather and De La Hoya fighting a rematch, should De La Hoya emerge victorious and Mayweather decide he wants to be back, with Hatton squaring off against Pacquiao and the winners of those two bouts then meeting. Hatton himself alluded to the prospect when we chatted the other day. But obviously Hatton would like the winner, and I think that has to be considered far and away the most likely scenario right now.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Saturday, 8:05 p.m. ET -- We've got mail

Joe Battista writes to share his prediction for tonight's event:

"I am going to go with Oscar De La Hoya KO10. Although I wouldn't mind seeing Ricky Hatton-Manny Pacquiao and think it would be a better fight [than] Hatton-Oscar, I am rooting for Oscar and really believe he is going to pull it out.

"All in all, with the 24/7 show and your blog this has been a great fight to get excited about and I cannot wait until about 11:15 Saturday night. THANKS AGAIN!"

No, Joe. Thank YOU. I hope the fight lives up to the hype and that everyone gets to enjoy the show.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Saturday, 7:55 p.m. ET -- Early night

We could be in for an early night. Two fights, two undefeated prospects have scored first-round TKO victories, lightweight Adrien Broner maintaining the trend.

(Keep your eye on Broner: He has fast hands and a charming, effervescent style outside the ring.)
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Saturday, 7:40 p.m. ET -- Weighty matters

Marc in Orange County asks: "Would you please give a very critical assessment of each guy's body and overall demeanor during the weigh-in?"

Marc, to me both guys looked to be in the kind of shape they would want to be in. To be honest, I was a little surprised that Oscar De La Hoya weighed in at 145, and I thought he looked a tad dry, but I just asked Graham Houston what he thought, and he said he had spoken to a member of De la Hoya's camp who had repeated that they knew all along the Golden Boy would be coming in on, or just under, weight. To be fair, that is indeed what they had been saying all along. (That same source told Graham that they have long felt that De La Hoya is a natural welterweight, but that he has fought recently at junior middleweight because of a reluctance to go that extra mile and squeeze out those extra few pounds).

I was a little surprised at how light Pacquiao weighed in; I thought he would weighin at a couple of pounds more. I honestly don't know what to make of it, and whether this is a huge degree of significance, other than it emphasizes what we all have known for a while: that welterweight is, to put it mildly, the upper limit of his climb through the weight divisions.

I am hearing that HBO is going to report that tonight Pacquiao weighs 151 and De La Hoya weight 156. I'd be curious to know whether Pacquiao had weights in his pockets when he weighed in, or whether he had a buffet breakfast, because I find that much weight gain a little surprising. I think De La Hoya weighing in the mid-150s tonight is entirely predictable and expected.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Saturday, 7:35 p.m. ET -- Early observations

If there is an advantage to being knocked out in the first round of the opening contest, it is that almost nobody is around to see you writhe on the canvas. The doors have just opened, and as a consequence the arena is essentially empty.

I would say there are maybe two or three dozen people in their seats at the moment, if that. And there is at present a smattering of people in the media section, including our own Graham Houston, who, almost uniquely among ringside press, intently watches and takes notes on every round of every fight on every card he attends.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET -- And away we go

The first blows have been exchanged here at the MGM Grand, and junior featherweight Isaac Hidalgo may be wishing they hadn't been. A beautiful left hook to the body from Top Rank prospect Roberto Marroquin crumpled him to the canvas and left him prone and gasping for air.

Top Rank's PR chief Lee Samuels wandered by to mention that the company is very high on the 18-year-old Marroquin, whom they hope might ultimately assume the role of Paulie Ayala as a popular lighter-weight Texas fighter in the stable.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Saturday, 5:45 p.m. ET -- Tickets?

Chris Soriano writes to me to say:

"First of all, I have absolutely loved reading your blog. This is my first fight I am attending and I can't tell you how excited I am to go.

"I was wondering if you could blog about the ticket availability. Personally, I don't yet have a ticket … Any tips? Have you heard much about ticket sales?"

Honestly Chris, I really have little idea about ticket availability. A few of my colleagues have been trying to get a handle on the situation this week, with varying degrees of success. Here's what I do know: The tickets all but sold out within an hour of being made available. However, an unknown percentage of those were bought by brokers, who -- presumably because of the present economic climate -- have reportedly had difficulties selling the tickets at their usual inflated value.

That being the case, it might well be possible to pick up relative bargains around the MGM. I'm afraid, however, that it isn't my area of expertise.

If you aren't able to get a ticket for the arena itself, remember that MGM Mirage properties (MGM Grand, Mandalay Bay, Luxor, Excalibur, New York New York, Monte Carlo, Bellagio and Circus Circus) will have closed circuit showings. These can often also be a lot of fun, and for a lot less money than a ringside seat, particularly when you have a situation such as this one, in which Flipino fans in particular are passionately focused on this fight.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Saturday, 5:30 p.m. ET -- The case for Oscar De La Hoya

• He is too big and too strong. He is at least four inches taller, has a five-inch reach advantage and as a professional has never fought at a weight class lower than the junior lightweight division. Until his fight against David Diaz in June, Manny Pacquiao had never fought higher than junior lightweight as a professional.

• Although Pacquiao's people have frequently asserted in defense of this matchup that Pacquiao regularly enters the ring at 147 pounds no matter what weight division he fights in, he could only manage 142 at the weigh-in. After De La Hoya has rehydrated, he is likely to outweigh Pacman by 10-12 pounds or more.

• De La Hoya can crack. He stopped Fernando Vargas and Ricardo Mayorga, and twice dropped Ike Quartey. Pacquiao has never been hit by punches from someone with the size and strength of De La Hoya, and smaller opponents like Juan Manuel Marquez have hurt him. And don't forget: Pacquiao has been knocked out by 112-pound fighters.

• De La Hoya has a great chin. He's been knocked down with head shots only twice in his career, and his only stoppage defeat was by middleweight champion Bernard Hopkins.

• It isn't just size. Styles make fights. Pacquiao likes to fight guys who will stand in front of him. De La Hoya can use his jab to box Pacquiao and keep him at a distance. The southpaw Pacquiao is likely to be particularly susceptible to converted southpaw De La Hoya's left hook.

• Pacquiao can become unsettled when things aren't going his way. Witness, for example, his mental struggles after he was cut in his first bout with Erik Morales. If he can't get past De La Hoya's jab, or if he gets cut or wobbled, how will he respond?

• De La Hoya handpicked Pacquiao. What does that tell you?
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Saturday, 5:15 p.m. ET -- The case for Manny Pacquiao

• The size difference is overrated. Yes, he turned professional at 106 pounds, but he was a teenager at the time and still growing. Whatever weight class he has fought at in recent years, he has always had a solid frame. This is closer to his natural weight and he will benefit from not having had to shed pounds.

• The early-career knockouts are irrelevant, too. The first was one of those early-career mistakes, a consequence of being too confident. The second was the result of forcing his body into a weight class in which it had long since ceased to belong.

• De La Hoya has trouble with speed. See, for example: Mosley, Shane; Mayweather, Floyd, among others. Pacquiao is undeniably fast.

• De La Hoya has experienced trouble with smaller fighters before. He lost to Mayweather and Steve Forbes hit him enough to damage his face in their May bout.

• De La Hoya seems to almost always lose his very biggest bouts, albeit most of the time, not by much. He lost to Mosley twice, Mayweather, Felix Trinidad and Bernard Hopkins. The only sure-fire Hall-of-Famers he defeated were Pernell Whitaker and Julio Cesar Chavez, and both of them, especially Chavez, were on the downward slope of their careers when they faced the Golden Boy. Pacquiao is undeniably at his peak.

• De La Hoya needs to jab, but against Mayweather he abandoned the jab early on. Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach was training De La Hoya for that bout; he says he knows why Oscar stopped jabbing, and he knows how to make him stop jabbing again.

• Stamina. De La Hoya fades in big fights, Pacquiao does not. The Filipino is likely to be attacking De La Hoya for three minutes every round.

• Activity. De La Hoya has fought six times in five years, Pacquiao, 12 times over the same period. Their respective records during that time: 3-3 and 10-1-1.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Saturday, 5 p.m. ET -- Fight night

The crowds are gathering at the MGM Grand, and the first fight of the evening is less than an hour away from starting. We will be live blogging from now until the start of the main event at approximately 11 p.m. ET, at which point Darius Ortiz, ESPN.com's boxing editor and Fight Credential czar will take over the controls with a blow-by-low account of Oscar De La Hoya vs. Manny Pacquiao. Dream match? Or Mismatch? Send me e-mails at kieranAKVegas@gmail.com and let me know what you think.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 7 p.m. ET -- Hedging bets?

The fact that Oscar De La Hoya weighed in well within the welterweight limit has a couple of folks wavering a little on their picks.

"I picked De La Hoya KO3," said Tim Smith of the New York Daily News and ESPN.com. "I'll stick with it, but I think Oscar might have overtrained."

"I'm still saying Oscar TKO9," added Steve Carp of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "But I may end up regretting it."

Robert Morales of the Long Beach Press-Telegram and another member of the ESPN.com team, is standing by his prediction.

"De La Hoya TKO7," he said. "Or it might be a knockout. The way I see it, Pacquiao is used to being hit by guys who weigh 122, 126, 130. And Oscar has a great chin."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 6:50 p.m. ET -- Bite fight, Part 2

It's a long story, but every evening, when I leave the media room I head back to my motel room and switch from writing about boxing to writing about polar bears. (I'm writing a book about them, to be published next year.)

You'd think there would be no possible connection, but check out the photo I took three weeks ago and compare it to the classic shot from Tyson-Holyfield II. You think these things have nothing in common?
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 6:30 p.m. ET -- The gloves

Just talked briefly to Alberto Reyes, owner of Reyes gloves. Oscar De La Hoya will be wearing Reyes gloves tomorrow, colored purple on one side, black on the other.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 6:20 p.m. ET -- The weigh-in

Now THAT is how to do a weigh-in.

Whatever you may think about the fight itself, this has been a first-rate promotion, and the weigh-in was a case in point. At a guess, I'd say there were probably 3,000 people in the arena, and at another guess I'd say Oscar De La Hoya fans outnumbered Manny Pacquiao fans by 2-1 or so.

Instead of the usual setup (main event fighters come on stage and weigh in, everybody leaves, undercard fighters weigh in) this one was an actual event. Comedian George Lopez hosted, engaging in banter with announcer Michael Buffer and keeping the crowd entertained.

A series of Golden Boy fighters took the stage -- Ricky Hatton, Juan Manuel Marquez, Shane Mosley and Bernard Hopkins. Hopkins, who knows how to work a crowd himself, took the microphone and declared, "Oscar De La Hoya's gonna win this fight. And if anybody's got a problem with that, I'll be outside."

Lopez looked at the fighters standing at the back of the stage and cracked, "Does this look like the worst police line-up ever?"

The main event fighters came to the stage and the crowd roared.

Manny Pacquiao flexed and weighed 142.

Oscar De La Hoya flexed and weighed 145.

And now we wait.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 5:20 p.m. ET -- The odds

Arbi Asatourian writes to say: "I am sure many people like myself would love to know what the odds are on the fight at the major hotels … including the knockout/decision odds for both guys."

Well, Arbi, here at the MGM Grand, the odds are presently as follows:

Manny Pacquiao: +140
Oscar De La Hoya: -160

Will go 9.5 rounds: -210
Won't go 9.5 rounds: +175

Pacquiao decision: 8/5
Pacquiao KO: 14/5
De La Hoya decision: 7/5
De La Hoya KO: 19/10
Draw: 10/1
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 5:10 p.m. ET -- Bert and Ricky

Today is the 75th anniversary of the lifting of Prohibition. I know this because Bert Sugar, naturally, considers it an anniversary worth celebrating.

Bert's principal function at these events is to sell the pay-per-view as best he can. From morning to night, he is on the phone, talking to radio stations across the country and talking about the fight. Yesterday, he was describing the atmosphere to one radio host, talking about how nice it feels around here. "And that's without the English fans being around to sing?" responded the host, rhetorically.

At that point, Ricky Hatton walked past.

"Here," said Bert, "Ricky Hatton will sing you the song himself."

Bert handed Ricky the phone. Ricky sang "There's only one Ricky Hatton," and handed the phone back to Bert.

"I'm starting to hate that song," said Hatton as he walked off.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 5 p.m. ET -- Let's get ready to weigh in

Here's a good sign: Ninety minutes before the doors open to the arena, and just an hour before Oscar De La Hoya and Manny Pacquiao are scheduled to step onto the scales, there is a large crowd assembling, waiting for the chance to enter. Unlike, say, Ricky Hatton fans, there's no singing and chanting. Just a large number of predominantly Hispanic and Filipino fans, patiently waiting for a chance to watch grown men stand on a scale in their underwear.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 3 p.m. ET -- Fight week feeling

Folks often write to ask what the atmosphere is like at fights, and this week has been no exception. The answer, honestly, is that many fights are like each other: You show up, you file, you blog, you see the fight, you write about the fight, you go home.

Some events, like Hatton-Malignaggi, are fairly quiet. Others, like Mayweather-Hatton or Mayweather-De La Hoya, are almost overwhelming with all the work there is to do and all the stories and blog entries there are to file.

And then there are fights like this one. This has just been a nice event to cover: Plenty to write about, but everything is tremendously well organized, and there are lots of different angles to cover.

The fighters influence the feeling of things, too. Both Oscar De La Hoya and Manny Pacquiao are classy, and the people they have around them are classy, and the fans they attract are highly enthusiastic, but really nicely behaved and decidedly un-loutish.

It's hard to explain, but it just feels … nice.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 2:05 p.m. ET -- The nearly man

So, I really am on the front lines here, working as hard as I can to bring you guys the latest news direct from the media room. Need evidence?

That photo on the ESPN.com boxing home page, with the journalists crowded around Manny Pacquiao? That voice recorder on the right hand side of the frame, in front of Dan Rafael's face? That's mine.

The picture here in the blog of a bunch of reporters hanging on Freddie Roach's every word? The glimpse of a right shoulder immediately to Roach's left? That's my shoulder.

Stay tuned for more exciting updates of "Where's Kieran?" between now and Saturday.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 2 p.m. ET -- Talking of e-mails

Joe Battista wrote to me at kieranAKVegas@gmail.com to ask: "I read online this morning that Oscar De La Hoya might be having a little trouble getting down in weight at this point. Have you heard anything like that? Is there a feeling he will not come in at 147 and if he does not, I am aware he has to pay huge penalties, but does the fight still go on?"

Joe, De La Hoya looks pretty good to me. Some people have commented that they have heard he really isn't eating anything at this point, and that he's struggling to stay on 147. That wouldn't surprise me; it's normally the case with fighters and Oscar had a hard time making 150 for Forbes. I think he'll weigh in bang on 147 (I think the talk of him weighing 143 at times during camp is bogus) and he'll be somewhere around 155 or more on fight night.

As for the penalties: I asked Eric Gomez of Golden Boy Promotions if there is any truth to the oft-reported notion that De La Hoya will have to pay a certain amount per pound above 147 that he weighs. Eric insists there is absolutely nothing in the contract to that effect.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 1:55 p.m. ET -- Keep the e-mails coming

By the way, talking of e-mails, please keep the questions and comments coming to kieranAKVegas@gmail.com. Several of you have written with your predictions for the fight, which have been great; I'm not ignoring them, but planning on rolling them out on Saturday.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 1:50 p.m. ET -- Casual Friday

You might think that (Friday being the day before the big fight) is the busiest day of the week.

Actually, it's often relatively relaxed. Weekend deadlines tend to be earlier for the world's last remaining newspapers than weekdays, so if there is a final piece to be filed, it is generally by lunchtime or early afternoon.

(I, being the class nerd, filed my last piece for Reuters last night. I expect to be beaten up in the playground later).

We have a few events today: a media opportunity with a number of Mexican champions and former champions, for example, and of course the weigh-in. But otherwise, it's casual Friday, an opportunity for me to jettison the button-down shirt in favor of a T-shirt and a chance to catch up on some e-mails.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 12:25 p.m. ET -- Stevie likes Oscar

The other day (was it yesterday? Wednesday? Time flies so quickly) we included a prediction from the last man to fight, and lose to, Manny Pacquiao.

David Diaz picked Oscar De La Hoya to prevail over Pacquiao in short order Saturday. This morning, I sent a text to the last man to fight, and lose to, De La Hoya, to see what he thinks.

As it turns out, Steve Forbes has much the same opinion.

"I like De La Hoya by KO, before five," he told me. "I think the size and power will be too much for the PacMan. To give Oscar problems, you have to be slick and defensive. And PacMan is neither of these."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 11:10 a.m. ET -- One fewer thing to do

There had been a press conference scheduled for Saturday morning to announce the Antonio Margarito-Shane Mosley welterweight title fight, but that has now been cancelled.

Fear not, the fight is going ahead -- but not in Las Vegas.

The fight's scheduled date, Jan. 24, is one week before the Super Bowl, and the casinos didn't want anything to take their high rollers' focus off that weekend. So instead the fight will take place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles (which, frankly, is probably a better place for it, given that both fighters' fan bases are centered in southern California).

An official announcement will be made on Tuesday.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 11:05 a.m. ET -- So who's Ricky pickin'?

Don't count Ricky Hatton among those who think Saturday's fight is heavily tilted toward Oscar De La Hoya.

"It's an interesting one really, because there's cases for both," he said. "Oscar's coming down in weight; he might be a little drained; Manny [Pacquiao] might not be big enough. Oscar could tire after seven rounds, and if he does, Manny could come on in the later rounds. But if I had to pick, I'd probably say Oscar by knockout in the first six."

You sure, Ricky?

"Or, maybe Manny on points," he said. "I think Manny will try to throw a lot of punches and show a lot of movement. I don't think he has the power to knock Oscar out. So I think it'll be Manny by points or Oscar by knockout. Because Manny has been knocked out, although not for a little while. Undoubtedly, he deserves to be the best in the world pound-for-pound, but because of the difference in size it makes for a lot of questions.

"I think Oscar's jab could be the key. Is Manny good enough to get across that left jab because of the height and reach? But one thing Manny does have is very fast feet and very good footwork. Maybe he has got the footwork to get past that jab.

"I think the first couple of rounds will tell us a lot."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 11 a.m. ET -- There's only one, you know

Ricky Hatton stopped by the media room on Thursday, less than two weeks removed from his victory over Paulie Malignaggi, and looking none the worse for wear, given that he had spent the time since then partying in Mexico with legendary hard-living Oasis frontmen Liam and Noel Gallagher.

Hatton offered that his performance against Malignaggi was probably his best since he defeated Kostya Tszyu in 2005. His detractors will spit out their drinks at this, but he did say that it was difficult to look good against an opponent who grabs and holds as much as Malignaggi did against him.

"The way that Paulie fought, he was doing a lot of holding and ducking very, very low, and when somebody's doing that, it's difficult for you to shine, but I think I shined as well as anyone could," he said. "I hurt him with the first punch I threw; he did a lot of holding because he was feeling the power, so it didn't surprise me.

"I don't want to sound too disrespectful to Paulie but I felt like I hurt him with every punch I threw. I think the old Ricky Hatton would have been a little over-eager trying to finish him, but I think it was a pretty composed performance. Composure's probably not my strongest point, normally."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 10:50 a.m. ET -- Can't we all just get along?

The undercard fighters' press conference was drawing to an end on Thursday. They had all said what they wanted to say -- Victor Ortiz, Danny Garcia, Danny Jacobs, Juan Manuel Lopez, all the young up-and-coming talent on both the Top Rank and Golden Boy books. Bernard Hopkins had come on stage to give them all a pep talk. It was all very pleasant and friendly.

But then, as it was breaking up, Top Rank's Bob Arum took the microphone one last time.

"I want to say one more thing," he announced.

Victor Ortiz, he reminded those assembled, had been a Top Rank fighter until earlier this year. Then Ortiz declared bankruptcy, freeing him from his contract and enabling him to secure new management and sign with Golden Boy. Arum told reporters he did not blame his promotional rival, or indeed the young man himself. But, he seethed, he did not regard those who had advised him to take those steps so benevolently.

"We've appealed the [bankruptcy] decision," he bellowed from the stage to Ortiz' new co-managers. "And when we win, we're coming after you."

"We're going to make them pay through the f---ing nose," he said afterward. "The f---ing nose."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Friday, 10:45 a.m. ET -- The belt

Nigel Collins, editor of The Ring, stopped by the media center. He is presenting the Ring Magazine lightweight belt to Juan Manuel Marquez and mentioned that carrying the Ring belts onto flights these days is becoming increasingly difficult, not least because they are transported in black cases that, to a suspicious TSA officer, look like they should be concealing guns or explosives.

"I was flying to the UK to present the belt to Joe Calzaghe and at Philadelphia airport, I was pulled to one side, and taken into this room," Collins said. And they looked at me and said, 'Open it.' And I was having some trouble with the latch, but I opened it, they saw it was a belt and they sent me on my way.

"When I arrived in London, this customs officer said, 'Open that up, please.' And I said, 'I'm having some trouble with the latch.' And she asked, 'What is it?' And I said, 'Do you know Joe Calzaghe?' She said, 'I love Joe Calzaghe.' I said, 'Well, this is his championship belt.' 'In that case,' she said, 'Off you go, sir. Good luck to you.'"
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 7:30 p.m. ET -- Manny the throwback

Freddie Roach agrees with those who have likened Manny Pacquiao to the legendary Henry Armstrong -- not just because of the potential for winning several big fights at different weights in one year, but because of the style in which they fight.

"Manny Pacquiao is one of those fighters who's very hard to read," Roach told reporters. "He doesn't do usual things. He throws punches from odd angles, you don't know where he's coming from, you don't know what he's going to do next. He's not a traditional one-two-three kind of guy. He's just a natural fighter. He's like a throwback to Henry Armstrong. You really don't know what he's going to do next, because he doesn't know either."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 7:30 p.m. ET -- It's all in the mind

Oscar De La Hoya has frequently been criticized for tiring late in fights. His former trainer Freddie Roach feels the problem is mental, not physical, and brought on by the fact that De La Hoya sometimes thinks too much in the ring.

"I think his problem is definitely mental and not physical in my mind," he said. "I had sports psychologists calling me to want to help Oscar. I know the physical side of his game is great because he works very hard, I've been witness to that, but the mental side is weak. But when I've suggested that to him, he's laughed it off. But in Europe, every team has its own sports psychologist. When I worked with [former super middleweight champion] Steve Collins, he had a sports psychologist with him at all times. Manny Pacquiao doesn't really need confidence, he's a confident guy, he doesn't need any help in that area."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 7:15 p.m. ET -- Roach on De La Hoya

"I like Oscar," said Freddie Roach, who trained De La Hoya for his fight with Floyd Mayweather. "But when he blamed me for losing the Mayweather fight, it p---ed me off and I lashed back. I had nothing to do with him losing the fight. Like Manny Pacquiao said, I get him as ready as I can; it's up to him to win the fight -- not me. Because when the bell rings, I sit down. My job is pretty much done for Pacquiao right now."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 7 p.m. ET -- Beristain: Roach has no advantage

Oscar De La Hoya's trainer, Ignacio "Nacho" Beristain, feels he doesn't believe that Manny Pacquiao trainer Freddie Roach has any advantages from having trained De La Hoya for his fight with Floyd Mayweather in May 2007.

The trainer says the two occasions on which Pacquiao fought Beristain's fighter Juan Manuel Marquez provide evidence to bolster his assertion.

"I respect Freddie Roach, but the first time he fought Juan Manuel Marquez, he couldn't do anything those 12 rounds," he said. "Four years later, after he had watched that video many, many times, he couldn't do anything a second time. He has coached De La Hoya one time. I don't think he knows anything about Oscar De La Hoya. If he has anything, maybe it is the wrong information."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 4 p.m. ET -- Rush hour!

There are long stretches of time when the media room is relatively quiet, when only a few scattered writers are tapping away on their keyboards.

Then there are sudden rushes of activity, when the room is full of fighters, writers, TV crews, managers and publicists.

This afternoon, as the undercard fighters arrived for their own news conference, was one of those occasions. Suddenly, the room was packed, and managers and publicists were steering their boxers to journalists for interviews.

In one corner, Bernard Hopkins was being interviewed by Philippines TV. In another corner, Bob Arum was discussing Saturday's fight with Mexican TV.

Heck, even I was interviewed by Japanese TV.

As I write, the news conference is about to take place, followed by a roundtable with the trainers for Saturday's main event. I'll be back with more afterward.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 3:35 p.m. ET -- Still on the cards?

Juan Manuel Marquez has made no secret of the fact that he believes he beat Manny Pacquiao twice, including most recently in March.

Instead, he sports a record from those two contests of 0-1-1.

Although frustrated that Pacquiao has moved up to 147 to fight Oscar De La Hoya rather than face Marquez a third time, he believes a rubber match between the two could still take place, even if Pacquiao elects not to return to lightweight.

"I can go any way," Marquez said. "I have other options. I can face Pacquiao for a third time. He already knows I beat him twice. I can go to 140, just to fight him.

"Officially, I lost to Pacquiao. But people know who won. People now recognize me more, they approach me more.

Rematch or no rematch, Marquez has moved on.

"I'm happy for the things that have happened this year. After they stole my win against Pacquiao, beating Joel Casamayor was a big victory. I've had bigger, but it was a good victory."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 3:30 p.m. ET -- Marquez goes with De La Hoya

Juan Manuel Marquez, who fought Manny Pacquiao to a disputed draw in 2004 and an almost equally disputed split decision in March, told me how he sees Saturday's fight unfolding.

"The size is a factor," Marquez said of De La Hoya's advantages. The height, the weight and the power. The power of De La Hoya is going to be very strong for Pacquiao.

"The first few rounds are going to be difficult for De La Hoya. But gradually De La Hoya is going to impose, he's going to dictate the action.

"For Oscar to win, he has to use his reach. The left hand especially is very painful for Pacquiao. Pacquiao also has to use his power hook. But De La Hoya, it is the reach, the jab, the uppercut. When I cut Pacquiao, it was with an uppercut. Pacquiao is so strong, he always comes forward to impose himself. Me, I stood back and boxed him. But it's all he can do. He has to do that. He doesn't have another style. He has no reverse.

"My personal opinion is De La Hoya is going to stop him in the seventh round."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 3:20 p.m. ET -- Historical parallels

"How about Ray Leonard [against Marvin Hagler]?" said Bert Sugar when asked for historical parallels and precedents for Manny Pacquiao's leap up in weight on Saturday.

"I picked Leonard in that fight because I never heard of a man making a comeback who was younger than the man he was coming back against. But he moved up.

"Another [example] is Roy Jones against John Ruiz. Big men don't necessarily win. It depends on the fighter. Ray Robinson might well have won the light heavyweight title [against Joey Maxim] if it hadn't been 110 degrees. And he was giving away weight and a half."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 3:15 p.m. ET -- Styles make fights

Bert Sugar believes Oscar De La Hoya can control the fight with his jab.

"But that jab stopped in the fourth round of the Floyd Mayweather fight," Sugar pointed out. "He used his jab against [Steve] Forbes, but who the hell is Forbes? And even though he used it against Forbes, Forbes, who has no punch, puffed him up and cracked his nose. If Manny can make him go backward with those tsunami-like rushes of his.

"But Pacquiao has a very bad flaw in his style: He jumps in, throws a bunch of punches, then jumps back out with his head above his gloves. You can't do that if it's not at an angle. He's got to move away with his left hook. Because then, not just coming in but going back, that's when he's vulnerable. That's when Marquez hurt him."

And for a prediction?

"Pacquiao late rounds," Sugar said. "I think he'll tire him. Oscar's always had trouble with speed."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 3:10 p.m. ET -- Fight of the Century?

When Bert Sugar speaks, bettors should listen.

"I've got this almost even," said Bert Sugar. "You've got a guy who fights with all the frequency of Haley's Comet. He's had three fights in four years, and that's if you count Steve Forbes. And you've got a guy in Manny Pacquiao who this year has fought [Juan Manuel] Marquez, [David] Diaz, and [Oscar] De La Hoya. He'll take on anybody, and so will De La Hoya.

"I'm calling this and it's a little bit tongue in cheek, the Fight of the Century. It's the best fight of the last 10 years, and there's been only one decade this century. No, I love this fight. And to me it's not just a fight, it's an event, because it could be an historic event."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 3:05 p.m. ET -- Does size matter?

One person who doesn't buy into the notion of Saturday's contest between Oscar De La Hoya and Manny Pacquiao being a mismatch because of size differences is venerable boxing historian and bon vivant Bert Sugar.

"Sometime, somewhere, some celestial being, once said, 'A good big man beats a good little man,'" Sugar mused. "And I answer with, when Bob Fitzsimmons at 167 [pounds] knocked out James J. Corbett to win the heavyweight title [in 1897]: 'The bigger they are the harder they fall.' So I don't buy into that. We have two warriors. One is today's best, pound-for-pound. One was the best pound-for-pound 11 years ago. These are two eras."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 2:15 p.m. ET -- B-Hop knows best

Bernard Hopkins knows how this fight will play out.

"Around the fifth or sixth round, that's when the shift happens," he said. "That's when Oscar's going to make Pacquiao change his style, change his thinking. Fighters have to settle in. Oscar's gonna take a couple rounds to settle in. The first few rounds are gonna be speed, speed, speed. They're gonna try to establish who's gonna be the offense and who's going to be the defense. But I'm telling you, Oscar's hyped up for this fight, and like I told him in Big Bear on Saturday: 'Your legacy rides on this fight.'"
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 2:10 p.m. ET -- The Executioner speaks

Bernard Hopkins has no doubt that Golden Boy colleague Oscar De La Hoya will prevail on Saturday and that Manny Pacquiao's promoters are about to see another of their prized fighters fall, a month after Hopkins comprehensively defeated middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik.

"You know what Pacquiao made a mistake at?" Hopkins asked rhetorically. "Or his people? Because he don't call the shots. We know who do. [Pacquiao's promoter] Bob Arum made the same mistake he made with Kelly Pavlik with this fight. Manny Pacquiao gets hit. He has a loosey-goosey defense. He's 100 percent offense. But when you run into a guy that you're fighting in another weight class for the first time, who's not shot -- Oscar's way from being shot, trust me -- that will make a difference. Top Rank made a gamble. They paid a price a month ago. They gonna pay a big price with their biggest cash cow. Bad year for them."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 1 p.m. ET -- Arum bullish on pay-per-view

Top Rank's Bob Arum, promoter of Manny Pacquiao and a seasoned observer of the fight game, is arguing that the poor economy may actually work to the advantage of pay-per-view sales.

Arum's reasoning is that, even in an economic downturn, entertainment continues to sell -- the Thanksgiving movie weekend saw improved revenue over the previous year, for example. And pay-per views, particularly when the cost is shared among several people and alleviated by the rebates being offered by Tecate and Cazadores, suddenly become a very cheap way to enjoy an evening.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 12:55 p.m. ET -- Bernie on the fence

Bernie Bahrmasel, the excellent Chicago-based publicist for, among other fighters, David Diaz and Jeffrey Resto (the latter of whom will fight in Saturday's co-main event), is the man who coined the term "Mexecutioner" for Manny Pacquiao. He sees a closer fight than many others are predicting.

"I see a great fight, both combatants bruised, battered and bloodied as they touch gloves to start the 12th round with the fight on the line," Bahrmasel told me.

His pick: A draw.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 12:50 p.m. ET -- Diaz picks De La Hoya

The last time Manny Pacquiao fought at the MGM Grand, he put on a clinic to defeat David Diaz and take the WBC lightweight title. But Diaz doesn't think Pacquiao can pull off the same trick twice.

"The deck is stacked against Pacquiao," Diaz said. "Oscar's a better boxer."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 12:45 p.m. ET -- Manny Pacquiao's thoughts

It is often difficult to tease much from Manny Pacquiao. He is respectful of his opponents almost to a fault, and is very quiet and reserved. But here are some of his thoughts prior to Saturday's big fight:

"Physically, I feel the same. The speed is there. But it's good, I can still eat. It's good for me."

"We have a big chance to win the fight. It's not hard an opponent. I consider him a great, great fighter. He is a six-time champion. I believe my power and my speed can beat him."

"Even when I'm fighting at 135 pounds, I'm sparring with 154-pound, 160, those big guys, you know. It's not a big difference to me to fight at 147. I'm always fighting a big fighter in the gym. That's why I can tell myself, 'I can fight at 147 pounds.'"

"Oscar and me, we are entertainers. We have to do our job, to make people happy. We have to give a good fight, to make people satisfied."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 12:40 p.m. ET -- Beristain working to PacMan's advantage?

One of the subplots involving Saturday's bout between Oscar De La Hoya and Manny Pacquiao is the fact that Nacho Beristain, the latest in a long line of trainers to work with De La Hoya, has come closer than most to figuring out how to defeat Pacquiao. His fighter, Juan Manuel Marquez, fought Pacquiao to a controversial draw in 2004, then pushed him to a split decision in March.

However, Pacquiao thinks that Beristain being in De La Hoya's corner works to his advantage.

"I know Nacho, I know his fighters' style," Pacquiao said. "Counterpunch, uppercut, hook, jab. I know Nacho's style. It is one of my advantages."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 12:30 p.m. ET -- The revolving door

Oscar De La Hoya is renowned for his habit of switching trainers, swearing everlasting loyalty to his new trainer, and then changing again.

"The reason why I keep on changing trainers is because I'm looking for that trainer to bring out the best in me," De La Hoya said. "I thought [Floyd] Mayweather could do that. He was very close. But now having Nacho Beristain, it's a whole different ballgame. It's incredible what a technician he is, how hard he works you out. It's unbelievable. I didn't think I could push myself to those types of limits."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 10:55 a.m. ET -- Bring on King Kong

Oscar De La Hoya insists he is not going into Saturday's clash with Manny Pacquiao believing that the smaller Filipino can't hurt him.

"That's been out the window since the first day," he said. "What happens is if you think that, you tend not to train, you tend to be overconfident. This comes through experience. I've been through this, many times. You think, 'Oh, he has no power. Oh, he has no speed, he's smaller.' Then everything can go wrong for you. I trained for King Kong."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Thursday, 10:45 a.m. ET -- Weight and see

Oscar De La Hoya compared Manny Pacquiao's weight gain to his own career movement through various weight classes.

"It's still a fast Manny Pacquiao," he said. "I don't think it's going to affect him that much, the way it affected me. I jumped up six weight classes, and by the sixth one it was tough. But his youth is going to balance it out."

Asked if he thought Pacquiao might struggle at 147 pounds, the same way De La Hoya had struggled against Felix Sturm at 160, De La Hoya said no.

"For Sturm, I didn't train right. I came to Vegas three weeks beforehand, and I just let loose. I was gambling until 2 in the morning, whatever I wanted to eat, I was eating in the buffet, I was not sparring. I'm sure with Manny Pacquiao, it's a different story. I'm sure Freddie Roach would not allow that."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 6:35 p.m. ET -- Yes he can

Manny Pacquiao's promoter Bob Arum chuckled after Richard Schaefer introduced the Mexican Hall of Fame contingent.

"It's great to see these Mexican champions, but most of them are a little long in the tooth," Arum said. "It reminds me of the presidential election. John McCain was a man of great achievement, but he was a little long in the tooth and a little slow. Same for Oscar De La Hoya. He has many achievements, but he's a little long in the tooth and a little slow.

"In Manny Pacquiao, we have a guy who really gets the blood flowing. He reminds me of Barack Obama. God knows, he may even be president of the Philippines one day, too."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 6:15 p.m. ET -- Mexicans for Oscar

Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, introduced a cavalcade of Mexican boxing legends who posed on the stage in support of Oscar De La Hoya. They included Ruben Olivares, Carlos Zarate, Pipino Cuevas, Humberto "Chiquita" Gonzalez, Rodolfo Gonzales, Juan Manuel Marquez, Rafael Marquez, Israel Vazquez, Oscar Larios and Daniel Zaragoza.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 6:10 p.m. ET -- Roach speaks, briefly

"A lot has been said, but it doesn't matter now," said Manny Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach, at the final prefight news conference. "I've worked with Oscar; I know he's a very dedicated guy. As for Manny, he's really happy he doesn't have to make weight. He's smiling, eating good. Manny? You're in the best shape I've ever seen you in, the best shape of your life."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 6 p.m. ET -- More from Dundee

At the final prefight news conference, Angelo Dundee recalled a time when an unnamed fighter walked into his 5th Street Gym in Miami.

"'I want to be a fighter,' the kid said," said Dundee. "I said, 'Where you from?' And he said, 'Las Vegas'. So I called up [legendary Las Vegas-based trainer] Eddie Futch and asked him about this kid and he said, 'Angie, please try and help him out.' And I took the kid to Las Vegas, and who was in his corner? Me, Eddie Futch and Freddie Roach. Our guy got licked. It doesn't matter who's on the stool."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 5:20 p.m. ET -- Boxing needs this

"We need it," says Angelo Dundee of the buzz surrounding this Saturday's fight. "You can't say a bad thing about either guy. They've both been fighting tough guys all their life. They'll both go back to being the same guy afterward. There's no loser in this."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 5:15 p.m. ET -- Going back a long way

Nacho Beristain and Angelo Dundee have been working together with Oscar De La Hoya in training camp. It isn't the first time their paths have crossed.

"I respect Nacho very much," said Dundee. "People don't know I worked against this guy. He worked against me with [featherweight] Vicente Saldivar. I had Sugar Ramos in Mexico City [for the WBA and WBC titles, in September 1964]. I forgot what the result of the fight was, and he reminded me my guy got stopped in the 12th round. So Nacho's a hell of a trainer. He's been around a long time."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 5 p.m. ET -- One voice

"I'm not going to be in the corner," says Angelo Dundee about Saturday night. Dundee will be sitting right by the corner, however.

"One voice," he said, of what a fighter should hear in the corner. "When I see two or three guys talking to a fighter, they're nuts. A fighter should talk to one person. And that's Nacho."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 4:40 p.m. ET -- Never change a leopard's spots

Angelo Dundee has always taken the attitude, exemplified by his work with Muhammad Ali, that a trainer should never change a fighter, merely tweak and fix his mistakes. He has taken the same page with Oscar De La Hoya.

"I'm telling him what to do, what to look for," Dundee said. "I ain't changing nothing, because you never change them. You leave the fighter alone with what they've got. What De La Hoya had before I came along, he would have beat this guy. Styles beat styles. It ain't no size. Size has got nothing to do with it. De La Hoya has the style to beat this kid. Not an easy fight. Nobody fights like Pacquiao. He does stuff nobody else does. But he does a couple of things that I made De La Hoya aware of. They think they know De La Hoya but there's a couple of things he can do that he hasn't been doing."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 4:30 p.m. ET -- Dundee on De La Hoya

Venerable trainer Angelo Dundee spent a couple of days in Big Bear helping Oscar De La Hoya prepare for Saturday's fight with Manny Pacquiao. Dundee is one of the nicest guys you'll meet; he responds to every request for an interview as if you're doing him the biggest favor in the world.

Of De La Hoya, he had typically positive things to say:

"I went to his camp in Big Bear, wide-open mind. He's the hardest trainer I saw since Muhammad [Ali]. And he smiles when he trains. Who the hell smiles when they're working so hard? He smiles, he's got time for everybody. He's a plus. He's so good for boxing."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 2:30 p.m. ET -- Waiting in the wings?

The man who emerged victorious two weeks ago in Las Vegas, Ricky Hatton, is widely tipped to be in line to fight the winner of Saturday's contest. But there's another name being floated around here as a possibility.

There are quite a few folks who would not be shocked to see Floyd Mayweather, recharged and recovered after 18 months of resting and betting on NBA games, stage a comeback in 2009 in either a De La Hoya rematch or a mouth-watering clash with Pacquiao.

I don't think anyone outside Floyd's innermost circle has any idea one way or the other, but it makes for intriguing speculation.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 2:20 p.m. ET -- Media predictions

You can find people around here who think Manny Pacquiao can win on Saturday. But most media feel that this is an event, rather than a competitive fight.

"De La Hoya in five," sayd David Mayo of the Grand Rapids Press. "First time De La Hoya hits Pacquiao with a left hook, it's going to turn everything upside down."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 12:45 p.m. ET -- Oscar De La Hoya bingo

Fighters are often predictable at press conferences, but few (if any) are more so than Oscar De La Hoya. Let's play Oscar De La Hoya bingo and cross off the following as he says them today:

"I am in the best shape of my life."
"It has been a great training camp."
"I am ready to fight."
"Nacho Beristain is a great trainer. I feel like I am learning so much from him."
"I respect Manny Pacquiao, but I am going to win on Saturday."

-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 12:40 p.m. ET -- That's how it goes

Prefight news conferences generally follow a pretty predictable pattern. First, one promoter will speak, then he'll introduce the other. (In this instance Richard Schaefer, as CEO of Golden Boy Promotions and the business partner of the A-side of the draw, will speak first. Bob Arum of Top Rank follows.) One or the other will introduce Keith Kizer, executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, who will thank "Mr. De La Hoya and Mr. Pacquiao" for being here.

Bob Halloran of MGM Mirage will say something about the fighters, the number of bouts each man has had at the arena, and the odds. The trainers will say something -- in the case of Freddie Roach, guaranteed to be very little. Then Pacquiao will speak, then De La Hoya.

The formal comments at the podium are generally bland and useless from a journalistic standpoint.

Once the formalities are over, the fighters are divided up -- one speaking to TV, the other to print media -- and then the roles are switched. That's when we'll get quotes for our stories.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 12:30 p.m. ET -- News conference ahead

The news conference for the main-event fighters will be held at 4 p.m. ET. As they did for the Antonio Margarito-Miguel Cotto clash in this arena in July, organizers set up news conferences for the main-event fighters for today, with the undercard boxers getting their own tomorrow.

This means that those of us who are on deadline can get straight to the quotes we need, and the supporting cast doesn't have to sit at the back of the stage, looking vaguely embarrassed to be there.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 11:30 a.m. ET -- More from the inbox

Stephen Combs writes to me at kieranAKVegas@gmail.com to say:

"I don't think people are giving Oscar De La Hoya enough credit for taking this fight. To me, it seems like a lose/lose situation. To his detractors, if he wins the fight, it's because he was so much bigger than Manny Pacquiao that he was obviously going to win it.

"By the same token, if he loses, in addition to the loss on his record, he'd be hammered by some for losing to an individual who is perceived as being a lot smaller. Say what you will about the guy, but he is truly willing to fight anyone.

"Conversely, for Pacquiao it seems like a win/win situation. He gets the payday, and if he loses, many will chalk it up to the weight issue. If he wins, he becomes a much bigger name in the U.S. and gets the monster fight with Ricky Hatton."

Stephen, I agree with almost everything you say. De La Hoya has fought very nearly everyone there was for him to fight, and except for the Bernard Hopkins bout, he was at worst a narrow loser in all of them. He deserves tremendous credit. And that's why, to be honest, I was personally a little disappointed when this fight was made: Because there are a lot of people out there who, as you say, don't want to give Oscar his props and who, win or lose, will use this fight as ammunition against him.

The only slight difference I have with you is the argument that this fight is further evidence that De La Hoya will fight anybody and that he deserves credit for making it happen. When it was slated as his farewell bout, I thought this was a fine fight. But if De La Hoya wants to continue, as he now says, I would prefer to see him taking on boxers his own size.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 11:20 a.m. ET -- Get pumped!

Are the HBO replays of past Oscar De La Hoya and Manny Pacquiao fights not enough to get you pumped for Saturday's big fight?

Versus will also televise a pair of classic fights involving the fighters Thursday at 8 p.m. ET. The two-hour broadcast will include bell-to-bell coverage of De La Hoya's 2002 junior middleweight unification victory over Fernando Vargas, in which the Golden Boy scored an 11th-round knockout; and Pacquiao's all-action 10th-round knockout of Erik Morales in their 2006 junior lightweight rematch.

In addition to the bouts, the broadcast will include interviews with the fighters about those classic bouts and Saturday's showdown, plus footage from their national media tour and training camps.
-- Dan Rafael


Wednesday, 11 a.m. ET -- No Mexecutioner

Manny Pacquiao and Freddie Roach were in a bar. Erik Morales walked in. The place went quiet, the customers nervous. Pacquiao stood up as Morales approached, and promptly offered him a beer.

Real life? No, a beer commercial on Filipino television, filmed after the third battle in the fighters' epic trilogy. You can see it here.

Before his rematch with Juan Manuel Marquez, I asked Pacquiao about his tag as "The Mexecutioner." He looked visibly uncomfortable and unhappy with it.

Pacquiao is the kind of guy who genuinely has no animosity toward his opponents, who truly does see a fight as a job and not as anything personal. His relationship with former opponents such as Morales and David Diaz, who spent some time with Pacquiao during a media stop in Chicago recently, helps underscore that fact.

In fact, one aspect of professional boxing that is often insufficiently appreciated is that, with some exceptions, many fighters share a unique camaraderie after their bouts that the rest of us can never appreciate.

As Wayne McCullough said to me once, "For 36 minutes, you're closer to that person than anyone else in the world."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 10:30 a.m. ET -- Watching from a safe distance

As Manny Pacquiao revealed in last week's diary entry, his wife Jinkee, who is eight months pregnant, is here.

Jinkee apparently likes to watch her husband fight. But given her condition, Manny understandably doesn't want her ringside on Saturday. Mandalay Bay will have a live feed piped into her hotel room, so she can watch in relative peace and quiet. Problem solved!
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 10:15 a.m. ET -- From the inbox

Matthew Hill from Minneapolis wrote to me at kieranAKVegas@gmail.com to ask:

"Pacquiao is so fast and he has been able to carry his power with him pretty well while moving up the scale. Steve Forbes, who has absolutely no power, marked up Oscar's face. Was that a case of Oscar knowing he couldn't get hurt and disregarding his defense a little? If not, does Manny's speed and power pose a real threat in the form of swelling and cuts?"

Matt, you've hit exactly on one of the key question marks. Those who believe Pacquiao has a great shot in this fight point to the fact that Forbes inflicted damage on De La Hoya, while others argue that De La Hoya left himself open to shots from Forbes because he knew Stevie couldn't hurt him.

I think De La Hoya fights more cautiously and conservatively against Pacquiao, looking to counter as he comes in, hitting him with stiff jabs and hooks rather than opening up the way he did against Forbes.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Wednesday, 10 a.m. ET -- Media room

The media room at the MGM Grand is always a good place to get some work done, and Stephanie Heller of MGM Mirage always makes a point of making it as comfortable and practical as possible.

There are six rows of tables for the print media to work at. As fight week progresses, along the back wall there will be broadcast stations for sports talk radio. And once they start broadcasting, believe me, the relative quiet of today will be shattered. There are round tables for folks to sit at and either have meetings or talk informally, and there is a great central area, with couches and a couple more tables, ideal for doing interviews.

And there's wireless internet, of course.

A lot of folks like to work in their rooms because it's quieter. But for a dutiful blogger there's really no better place to be, tapping away as fighters and managers, writers and publicists come in, grab a cup of coffee, stop by for a chat, unload a little gossip, and then head on their way again.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Tuesday, 5:50 p.m. ET -- The scene

A few folks have written to me at kieranAKVegas@gmail.com to ask about the atmosphere so far and how it compares to that of other fights.

Well, it's still early to say. It's rare that even the biggest fights generate much buzz around town on the Tuesday of a fight week. But both Manny Pacquiao and Oscar De La Hoya commanded good-sized crowds for their entrances, if not enormous ones. There is a sense of anticipation for this event that didn't exist for, say, the Ricky Hatton bout two weeks ago.

Stephanie Heller of MGM has created a beautiful media room for us.

But Las Vegas itself is hurting.

"How are things?" I asked my cab driver at the airport. "Two weeks ago, it was dead."

"Still dead," the cab driver said.

Five minutes of awkward silence followed until we reached the MGM.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Tuesday, 5:30 p.m. ET -- Stroll down memory lane

As usual, HBO is digging out a pair of past fights featuring Oscar De La Hoya and Manny Pacquiao this week to set the table for Saturday night's fight.

First, the network will dust off a fight that hasn't been seen in years: De La Hoya's 1999 welterweight title-retaining decision over Ike Quartey, one of the Golden Boy's most impressive performances. De La Hoya and Quartey were both knocked down in the dramatic fight, but De La Hoya prevailed via split decision.

For fans of Pacquiao, HBO will air his lightweight title victory from June 28, when Pacquiao dominated David Diaz and scored a bloody ninth-round TKO victory.

De La Hoya-Quartey will be replayed Friday at 11 p.m. ET and Saturday at 8:30 a.m. ET. Pacquiao-Diaz will immediately follow the showings of the De La Hoya bout.
-- Dan Rafael


Tuesday, 5:05 p.m. ET -- Statue of De La Hoya

Oscar De La Hoya seemed genuinely moved when, before his fight against Steve Forbes, he was informed that he would be getting his own statue outside the Staples Center in Los Angeles, alongside statues of Wayne Gretzky and Magic Johnson. The fighter's likeness was unveiled Monday.

(Although the cynical would point out that shortly after the announcement, AEG, which owns Staples, bought a minority interest in Golden Boy Promotions).

De La Hoya is the first L.A. native to be so honored.

"To think it all started from humble beginnings in East Los Angeles, and now this statue," he said. "This is such a wonderful tribute for myself and my family, but this is also for all of the people in the Los Angeles community in general, and East Los Angeles in particular, who have believed in and supported me throughout my career."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Tuesday, 5 p.m. ET -- If you've got it, flaunt it

Yes, I've seen bigger and more boisterous grand entrances, including some from Oscar De La Hoya himself. But then, other big fights haven't been held at a time of such economic uncertainty. There used to be a time -- oh, say, three months ago -- when people would come to Las Vegas in droves to spend their money. Still, even now there's no denying that De La Hoya has the power to light up a casino.

As always, the MGM Grand set up a ring in its lobby. Maybe 400 or 500 fans gathered around it, and when De La Hoya appeared, the mariachi band was cued and the fans roared and cheered. Slowly, slowly, De La Hoya walked to the ring, hardly able to make his way through all the cameras. A Filipina TV journalist attempted to do a stand-up in front of a camera and was bowled out of the way by the crush. Then De La Hoya climbed into the ring, accompanied by Ignacio Beristain, Angelo Dundee, Daniel Zaragoza and the rest of his team.

De La Hoya appeared trim and fit, wearing a white shirt and a pair of jeans. As the crowd called his name, he flashed that million-dollar smile.

At that moment, he looked like the happiest man in the world.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Tuesday, 4:45 p.m. ET -- A few words from Schaefer

Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, stopped by to say hello. He says that Oscar De La Hoya is still on weight, and he doubts De La Hoya will weigh more than 152 pounds or so on fight night.

Schaefer also says De La Hoya is very happy that Manny Pacquiao has agreed that the fighters will wear 8-ounce gloves, rather than heavier 10-ounce gloves. De La Hoya feels the lighter gloves will accentuate his presumed advantage in punching power.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Tuesday, 4:40 p.m. ET -- The reviews are in

I arrived in Las Vegas just a little too late for Manny Pacquiao's grand arrival at Mandalay Bay. As I settled into the media room, Steve Carp of the Las Vegas Review-Journal, who had been there for Pacquiao's arrival, entered. I asked him how it had gone.

"A zoo," he said. "Craziest one of those I've seen. Filipino media, Filipino fans, American media. A huge crowd."

A nicely dressed Pacquiao said a few words to the crowd, then went up to his suite.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Tuesday, 4:30 p.m. ET -- In Vegas

It begins again. The same walk from plane to taxi. The same ride from airport to hotel. The same walk to the credentials desk and then to the press room. The same visit to the bathroom, and the same realization that the same soap dispenser next to the same washbasin still has no soap …

Oscar De La Hoya's grand arrival at the MGM Grand happens in a few. I'll have a report for you.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Tuesday, 12:30 p.m. ET -- Manny Pacquiao, superstar

Manny Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum said he couldn't remember ever promoting a boxer with the kind of fan base the Filipino enjoys.

"When you promote a Manny Pacquiao, it comes with a lot of responsibility because an entire nation is focused on his every move," Arum said. "Everything that happens to him is reported on extensively. I believe the Senate and Congress are going to close this week because they won't have a quorum, because of all the senators and congresspeople flying over. I know the vice president of the Philippines will be flying over on Wednesday."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Tuesday, noon ET -- In defense of the matchup

Asked during this afternoon's media conference call about the opinion of some -- arguably many -- that Oscar De La Hoya is simply too big for Manny Pacquiao, Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum launched into an impassioned defense of the matchup:

"This flies in the face of the whole history of boxing, where smaller guys have gone up in weight to fight great fighters at higher weights. And very often, they've won."

Of course, the problem critics have is not that a fighter shouldn't move up in weight, but rather the sheer number of weight classes Pacquiao is being asked to leap for this bout. But Arum argued forcefully that he genuinely believes his guy has a chance.

"I have a very great sense of responsibility to Manny Pacquiao, who is an icon to an entire nation of 90 million people," Arum said. "I wouldn't have made the fight if I didn't think he was going to win. You don't put a guy like that in a fight you don't believe he can win, just for the money. You don't do it. I think he can win the fight, [Top Rank matchmaker] Bruce Trampler thinks he can win the fight, Freddie Roach thinks he can win the fight. The haters and know-nothings can say what they want. It doesn't affect me."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Tuesday, 11:45 a.m. ET -- Who's next?

There's no question that Oscar De La Hoya remains the sport's biggest attraction. What happens when he finally retires and boxing is left without a marquee crossover attraction?

"I don't think the pay-per-view business is going to collapse," Schaefer said. "It might be the same as basketball, when things dipped a little after Michael Jordan retired, and then LeBron James came along."

"I remember what a big hit it was when [Muhammad] Ali left the scene," Arum said. "Then later when Ray Leonard left the scene, then later when Mike Tyson left. Boxing has a history of renewing itself. It may take a few years, but it always renews itself."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Tuesday, 11:10 a.m. ET -- Maybe it is, maybe it isn't

Remember when this was going to be Oscar De La Hoya's last fight? And then it wasn't? According to Richard Schaefer, it still might be.

"This might be Oscar's last fight," Schaefer said. "It will have to do with not only his winning, but how he feels on the night and all through camp."

Schaefer acknowledged he and De La Hoya talk often about the time when the fighter should not fight anymore, but the Golden Boy's CEO said that he believes his boss is smart enough to make that decision for himself without needing to be pushed.
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Tuesday, 11 a.m. ET -- It's the economy, stupid!

During a media conference call on Monday with Richard Schaefer of Golden Boy Promotions, Top Rank's Bob Arum acknowledged the elephant in the room: the fact that Saturday's big fight is being conducted at a time when many are concerned about a shaky economy.

Arum said that had they known at the time the fight was made that the economy would be in the shape it's in, "we would still have made the fight." But, he acknowledged, "We might have considered dropping the price of the pay-per-view by $5."

Still, Arum insisted ticket sales have been strong.

"In the first hour, we sold $15 million worth of tickets. Why change that? True, some of the people who bought them were brokers, and they're having trouble moving them on. But if someone can't sell a ticket at two, three times the face value -- well, that's too bad. I'm very happy with ticket sales, and I expect to be very happy with pay-per-view sales."
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Monday, Noon ET -- Fight week schedule

A quick rundown of some of the key events this week, so you know what to expect and when to expect it:

Monday: Media conference call with Richard Schafer of Golden Boy Promotions and Bob Arum of Top Rank

Tuesday: Las Vegas arrivals of Manny Pacquiao (Mandalay Bay, 2 p.m. ET), and Oscar De La Hoya (MGM Grand, 3:30 p.m. ET)

Wednesday: Main event press conference, MGM Grand, 4 p.m. ET

Thursday: Undercard press conference (3:30 pm. ET); media round table with trainers Freddie Roach, Ignacio Beristain and Angelo Dundee

Friday: Weigh-in: MGM Grand Garden Arena. Undercard at 5:15 p.m. ET; De La Hoya and Pacquiao at 6 p.m. ET. Open to the public

Saturday: First fight at 6:15 p.m. ET; HBO PPV telecast begins at 9 p.m. ET; main event begins probably around 11:15 p.m. ET
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Monday, 11:45 a.m. ET -- Homicide Manny?

Fred Sternburg, Manny Pacquiao's ace PR whiz, notes that 70 years ago, the great Henry Armstrong became the first and only professional boxer to hold world title belts in three weight classes simultaneously when he added the lightweight and welterweight crowns to the featherweight title he already owned.

As Sternburg points out, that couldn't happen today because the Alphabet Boys don't allow their fighters to hold belts in more than one division at a time (although it wouldn't preclude a fighter from being recognized as the true champion in any division by media and fans alike). But Sternburg makes the case, with some justification, that if Pacquiao beats Oscar De La Hoya on Saturday, it will be the closest modern equivalent: Pacquiao would have gone in consecutive fights from 130 to 135 to 147 pounds.

Of course, Armstrong went from featherweight to welterweight, beating Hall-of-Famer Barney Ross, and then back down to lightweight, defeating another Hall-of-Famer, Lou Ambers. There was no game-but-relatively-limited David Diaz in there. Even so, were Pacquiao to pull off the upset Saturday, it would undeniably be a huge achievement.

The question is: Does he legitimately have a chance? Or is this in fact a total size mismatch that De La Hoya can't possibly lose?
-- Kieran Mulvaney


Monday, 11:30 a.m. ET -- Back in the saddle

It's the last big boxing event of the year, and the blog is back in the building! We'll be including updates from now until fight time right here in the Fight Credential, so stop by for news, views, gossip, sightings, interviews and your daily horoscope. OK, possibly not your daily horoscope.

We'll be on site at the MGM Grand from Tuesday lunchtime, which is when Manny Pacquiao and Oscar De La Hoya make their grand arrivals in Las Vegas, but there is plenty to report on today already. Be sure to send me e-mails at kieranAKVegas@gmail.com, with any questions or observations on the "Dream Match," and I'll try to answer as many as I can.
-- Kieran Mulvaney