by Joseph Pimentel/AJPress
EAST LOS ANGELES – The final leg of the Manny Pacquiao and Oscar De La Hoya publicity tour started with a shot and a big chug.
A Tequila Cazadores official kicked off the press conference by opening a large bottle of tequila, poured himself a shot and downed the alcoholic beverage in front of a large pro-Mexican crowd in East Los Angeles.
Meanwhile, Mexican-American comedian George Lopez, who served as the emcee, grabbed the bottle and downed it akin to a scene in the Animal House.
After going around on a six city tour of the US for the past week-in-a-half, many members of the De La Hoya and Pacquiao camps needed a drink to relieve them of all their travels.
“All I can say is that it’s good to finally be back home,” said Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s trainer.
“I was glad to see all the Filipinos from everywhere,” added Pacquiao. “It makes me feel good knowing that all those Filipinos I met are all supporting me.”
“I am home,” said De La Hoya. “This is where it all started for me.”
“We visited all the historic monuments across the US —the Statue of Liberty in New York, the Sears Tower in Chicago, the Space Needle in Houston, the Alamo in San Antonio, and the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco but here, East LA, this is our monument,” added De La Hoya to the pro-Mexican crowd.
On a sweltering hot day, Mexicans and a small number of Filipino fans gathered underneath the Whittier Arch, the gateway to East LA, to watch two of the most popular stars in boxing announce their upcoming match on December 6 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
The fight titled The Dream Match is expected to be one of the highest grossing fights in the history of boxing, possibly even surpassing last year’s multi-million dollar mega match between De La Hoya and Floyd Mayweather Jr.
Cheerleaders from Oscar De La Hoya Charter High School waved their blue and yellow pom-poms, a red-suited mariachi band blasted its traditional music, and people were literally on the roof and climbed up windowsills trying to catch a glimpse of boxing’s pound-4-pound great Pacquiao and boxing’s biggest box office draw De La Hoya.
Filipino Jeff Sacro of Carson arrived to the press conference early.
“I’m here to support Manny,” said Sacro, who was flanked by jeering Mexican fans. “I’m always there for all of his fights in Las Vegas.”
FilAm Jason V., who did not want to use his last name because he skipped work to attend the event, said he’s also here to support Pacquiao.
“He’s No. 1,” said Jason.
Sacro said that Pacquiao’s match against De La Hoya would be his toughest because of the Mexican’s long reach advantage.
“I just want Manny to fight until the end,” said Sacro, who originally hails from Cavite, Philippines. “Don’t quit. De La Hoya is big but Manny’s quick. We love Manny.”
Biggest fight of career
Roach said that he’s happy that the publicity tour is over because it’s time for him and Pacquiao to go back to work at the Wildcard Boxing Club.
Roach admits this is the biggest fight of not only Pacquiao’s career but his as well.
“After this, no more small fights,” said Roach. “All mega fights from here on out – Ricky Hatton or even Floyd Mayweather Jr. if he comes back.”
The Hall of Fame boxing trainer said that Pacquiao’s like a son to him. He wants to make sure Pacquiao is prepared and gives maximum effort.
“I’m 90 percent sure that Pacquiao will win this fight,” said Roach to the Asian Journal. “I don’t think Oscar can stay with Manny’s pace. Manny’s too fast for him.”
To combat Pacquiao’s speed, De La Hoya has hired Pacquiao’s nemesis Juan Manuel Marquez’s trainer Ignacio Beristain to help prepare for this fight.
Beristain has already warned De La Hoya of Pacquiao’s ring speed.
“He told to me watch out for Pacquiao and prepare for 12-rounds of boxing,” said De La Hoya. “He’s fast but he has to look for my right hand.”
Pacquiao, who has been plagued with distractions in several of his fights, said that this fight he’s more focused and determined.
“This time I’m really focused,” he said. “No more visitors at house. I’m just going to stay in the gym and head home. This fight won’t have any distractions.”
This fight is also of importance to Pacquiao not because he’s facing the Golden Boy but that this might be one of his last fights.
“I think maybe one or two more fights after this,” he said. (www.asianjournal.com)