by Momar Visaya/AJPress
NEW YORK – In a historic first, boxing superstars Manny Pacquiao and Oscar de la Hoya took the city by storm and appeared at the Statue of Liberty Wednesday, October 1, to promote their mega-fight: The Dream Match-De La Hoya Vs Pacquiao.
The press conference was the first of a series of events that organizers have planned to promote the epic match. The unprecedented presscon is the first ever staged on the historic Liberty Island, home to the iconic Statue of Liberty, America’s most famous landmark.
Pacquiao and De La Hoya are two of the biggest attractions in the world of boxing and their much-awaited match-up is something that aficionados have been waiting for. De La Hoya, the Olympic gold medalist and 10-time world champion will meet Ring Magazine’s current No. 1-ranked pound for pound champion, Manny Pacquiao on Saturday, December 6 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The fight, touted as the grand finale of the 2008 boxing calendar year, sold out in hours and established a live gate of nearly $17 million, making it the second largest grossing gate in boxing history after the De La Hoya vs. Floyd Mayweather fight held in May 2007 which featured a record-breaking $19 million gate.
“This is the biggest fight of my career and I am looking forward to this match because I know that De La Hoya is also an exciting player. I will do my best to bring honor and glory to my country, the Philippines and my fellow Filipinos around the world,” Pacquiao said after the presscon, as he signed autographs on shirts, boxing gloves, tickets to Liberty Island, even press Ids and posters.
For De La Hoya, it is not just about regaining old glory, it is about fighting the best and winning. “Manny Pacquiao is considered as the best fighter in boxing today and I always want to fight the best. They say I am old and I can’t fight him. I am challenged by that. I am 35 but that is not old,” De La Hoya told the Asian Journal on the way back to Manhattan via a ferry to Liberty.
Pacquiao, who won world titles at flyweight (112 lbs), super-bantam (122 lbs), super-feather (130 lbs) and lightweight (135 lbs) will be fighting for the first time at welterweight (147 lbs). Some consider him as the underdog because at 5’10.5″, De La Hoya is four inches taller than Pacquiao and his reach is 72 inches against Pacquiao‘s 67.
Though not a title fight, a welterweight victory over De La Hoya in the same year he held his previous titles would be equivalent to Henry Armstrong’s historic year of 1938 when he simultaneously held the featherweight, lightweight and welterweight titles.
“We all know about the battle between David and Goliath and who won in the end, right?” Bob Arum, Top Rank’s top man said, much to the cheers and screams of the predominantly Filipino fans who trooped to the Statue of Liberty to see the presscon. Pacquiao said that he gets inspired by the support of fans wherever he goes.
“When I take that walk to the ring to fight Oscar, I will carry all the people of the Philippines on my shoulders. I promise I will fight with all my heart and that I will give everything I have. Like my trainer Freddie Roach says, I have what it takes to win the biggest fight of my life,” he said. For De La Hoya, he shared that he is excited and can’t wait for December 6 to arrive. “I am glad that we were able to make this fight happen because while Pacquiao is at the pinnacle of his success and has defeated all of the top fighters he has faced, I am going to show the world that it stops with me,” he said.
Team Pacquiao and Team De La Hoya, together with their promoters, Top Rank, Inc. and Golden Boy Promotions will also travel to Chicago, Houston, San Antonio, San Francisco and Los Angeles to promote the match. The last stop will be where the Golden Boy grew up—Whittier Boulevard Arch in East LA on October 7.