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SENSE OF FEAR: De La Hoya says Pacquiao remains dangerous

By Nick Giongco

KUALA LUMPUR – Oscar De La Hoya feels a sense of fear whenever he is reminded of how Manny Pacquiao conducts the boxing end of his life.

Days before Paquiao attempts to unseat Lucas Matthysse in their World Boxing Association welterweight title fight at the Axiata Arena, De La Hoya recalled an incident when he was still a kid that he vividly remembers.

“My father once told me like I was 10 years old. If you are not a fighter first, it’s an uphill battle. Meaning, you have to put boxing first and everything comes second,” said De La Hoya, who was sent into retirement by Pacquiao 10 years ago.

Pacquiao, an incumbent senator, pastor, basketball league operator, and part-time entertainer, is facing a guy who eats and drinks – and even sleeps – boxing in Matthysse.

“You cannot be a senator, you cannot be doing this and that. You don’t play boxing. You don’t have teammates to hit a ball for you. It’s just you and if you are not focused 100 percent, then things can happen.”

De La Hoya, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame after an exemplary amateur and professional career, believes boxing is a full-time job.

“Manny Pacquiao has a lot on his plate, a lot on his plate,” said the 45-year-old Los Angeles native who arrived here Thursday from the US.

Even Pacquiao’s long layoff could contribute to a poor showing since the Filipino eight-division champion’s last fight was held over a year ago when he got roughed up by Jeff Horn in Australia.

“It can affect him. His timing,” he said.

Still, the inactivity could also serve as a blessing.

“But then again, it can help him because he is fresh and there’s no wear and tear in his body. He’s rested, mentally and physically.”

However, Pacquiao is no longer the twenty-something fellow who left a trail of broken ribs and bloody nostrils behind.
“Pacquiao is still fast but not as fast as he was before. And that comes with age. It is normal. It happens.”

For Matthysse to win, he “has to be cool, calm and collected and he has to force the action,” according to De La Hoya, who won world titles 10 times in six different weight classes.

“He has show Manny that he is younger fresher, stronger because if you don’t show that to Manny, he can walk over you.”