REMEMBER THE DREAM MATCH
Golden Boy Oscar De La Hoya vs Manny “PacMan” Pacquiao at the MGM Garden Arena in Las Vegas on December 6
By Dr. Allan Recto
09 Oct 2008
(L-R – Richard Schaefer, Oscar De La Hoya, Bob Arum, Manny Pacquiao, Freddie Roach, Atty. Jeng Gacal and an MGM Executive) Photo taken by Dr. Allan Recto.
San Antonio, Texas - Standing at the podium then pointing his left index finger directly to WBC lightweight champ Manny Pacquiao, Olympic gold medalist, six division and 10 times world champion, Oscar De La Hoya fired fighting words at the PacMan boldly predicting a KO - “But in Dec 6…I’m gonna knock you out…why do I say that here… so you will - Remember the Alamo!” Against the backdrop of Texas’ most famous landmark, De La Hoya’s closing words reverberate after he was introduced by Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer to the crowd waiting at The Alamo, in San Antonio, TX. This happened during their scheduled press conference held last Friday, Oct. 3. It was the 4th city they visited for their “Dream Match” Tour marketing the huge HBO PPV bout in Dec. 6. This highly anticipated event with global impact is co-promoted by Golden Boy Promotions and Top Rank.
Houston, I had a Problem…
My problem, aside from a lost iphone, was to get to San Antonio on the spur of the moment. It was some 200 miles away. After finishing the press conference at NASA Space Center in Houston around 1:30 pm, I quickly boarded a SWA plane at Hobby Airport heading southwest to San Antonio International Airport, where I arrived around 3:00 pm. A taxicab driver took me to “The Alamo” hurriedly, and fortunately, I was there just after the “Dream Match” press conference started. Team Pacquiao’s trainer Buboy Fernandez was surprised to see me as I jumped up the stage taking photos capturing the moments. Select Team Pacquiao members had taken a private plane from Houston earlier and were ahead of me by several minutes. Two others flew directly to San Francisco. I was lucky to be the last one not to miss out on the action in The Alamo in San Antonio. It differs with Houston’s NASA Space Center “Dream Match” presscon since it was open to the public. It was fun and really worth the rush flight and road trip, almost like a dream come true!
Pacquiao’s main Filipino trainer Restituto “Buboy” Fernandez at The Alamo in San Antonio, Texas during their “Dream Match” Tour (Photo taken by Dr. Allan Recto).
Crowd gone wild as Fans root for their Favorite
Packed mostly by Latino fans cheering wildly for Oscar De la Hoya due to the proximity of San Antonio to the border with Mexico, this time fans were given a rare treat. Some had come very early, expecting to see two of the greatest boxers in history, Manny Pacquiao and Oscar De la Hoya and everybody were truly elated and excited. No one seemed to mind the heat, which was not unusual in San Antonio, as it was indeed a warm, sunny gorgeous afternoon.
Mexican American fans were loudly cheering for Oscar De La Hoya. Not to be outdone, the Filipino fans present enthusiastically chanted – “Manny, Manny, Manny!.” Pacquiao was amused and baffled earlier after hearing De La Hoya’s final flurries but probably did not mind because he was connecting those words to the famous battle cry of Texans – “Remember the Alamo” since we were in that historic landmark in San Antonio, Texas.
Historical significance of The Alamo
In 1836, the Alamo became the location of a major conflict in the fight for Texas independence. Bearing the history of Texas itself, the Mission San Antonio de Valero (known as The Alamo) played a significant role in the events that occurred in Texas history. The story of the Alamo has been passed down from generation to generation, until history and legend have become almost interchangeable. Not one person who stood up defending the Alamo was alive to tell what exactly transpired. However, after six weeks, when Sam Houston’s rebel soldiers swept the field at San Jacinto, they ran into combat with a battle cry - "Remember the Alamo" - in honor to those who gave up their lives defending the Alamo. Today, the Alamo is Texas' premier attraction. Yearly, more than two million visitors from all over the world come to see these Shrine of Texas Liberty. They would honor the courage and sacrifice of the defenders. As a freedom symbol not only of San Antonio, but of entire Texas, The Alamo stands as a sacred place to visit and reflect upon being American especially a Texan, myself included.
Remember The “Dream Match” Poster with The Alamo behind it.
(Photo taken by Dr. Allan Recto)
San Antonio “Dream Match” Press Conference Notes
Richard Schaefer introduced Team De La Hoya stating, “in charge of training camp & coordination will be Oscar De La Hoya’s brother Joel and ODLH’s strength and conditioning coach Robert Garcia.” The crowd cheered noisily when Jaime Quintana addressed the Mexicans - “Oscar De La Hoya will beat Manny Pacquiao in Dec. 6 and he is going to do it for you guys - the Mexicans,” as he interpreted for ODLH Mexican trainer Nacho Beristein.
Top Rank chief promoter Bob Arum introduced Team Pacquiao including Freddie Roach and Manny. He was greeted with cheers and sometimes booed.
Bob Arum – “The Philippines is a country of 90 million people. There are also a lot living in the United States.” “During the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the U.S. troops were in the Philippines.” “They were overwhelmed by the Japanese forces.” “The Filipino troops who fought alongside the Americans never surrendered.” “The best fighters in the world are Filipinos.” “And the best fighter ever produced from the Philippines is the current WBC Lightweight Champion, from General Santos City, Philippines…..Manny “PacMan” Pacquiao….
Bob Arum at the podium explaining the Filipino fighting heart and spirit. (Photo taken by Dr. Allan Recto)
Manny Pacquiao – “First, I would like to thank God for giving me the strength everyday” “I would like to thank Golden Boy promotion and Top Rank, the media, MGM Grand, and to all of you…Thank you to all your support…I will do my best…If you know me, you saw my fights…I love to fight and fight and fight…we don’t want to disappoint you guys in Dec. 6….be there…don’t miss it…it will be a great, great fight.”
Manny “PacMan” Pacquiao at the podium w/ respective Teams for The Dream Match. Texas “Lonestar” flag is noted on the left. (Photo taken by Dr. Allan Recto)
Richard Schaefer – “I beg to disagree with Bob Arum…the Mexicans are tough fighters. History brings us back to the Mexican Aztec warriors. Then referring to the Golden Boy Oscar De La Hoya, he said: “He has captured the hearts and imagination of people around the world…he fights for what he stands for, etc.
Oscar de la Hoya - “I remember when I fought here…the best fans are from San Antonio…
People are saying that at 35 years old…why I am fighting a younger fighter…the best pound per pound fighter in the world…this pumps me up…this motivates me to train harder…My heart will always be in San Antonio because I met my wife here.” - then he made the categorical statement predicting the knockout.
Oscar De La Hoya (center) and promoters Richard Schaefer (L) & Bob Arum ® (Photo taken by Dr. Allan Recto)
After the press conference, Manny and De la Hoya posed for the cameras and were interviewed by TV crews. Most of the reporters followed Oscar De la Hoya, who hasn¹t lost his charm in the community, and some went after Pacquiao. This gave more time to Manny and his team to share with the Filipino fans that gathered at the Alamo to see their idol. Manny seem to move freely because of ample security but adviser Mike Koncz was always around helping him get through signing gloves, pictures, etc. and autographing memorabilias.
Oscar De La Hoya with tight security meeting with his fans and chased by TV crew.
Pacquiao with Philippine Flag assisted by Buboy Fernandez and this writer looking over MP’s shoulder. Top Rank executive Lee Samuels seen suprvising media & public relations.
(Photo taken by Harvard educated Sportswriter Pablo Torres of Sports illustrated)
The PacMan has not lost his charm too with the adoring female fans.
My Personal Interviews
Interviewed by the writer of this article, Bob Arum said that it is unusual for Oscar De la Hoya to predict a result for a fight, he said - “This is the first time which leads me to believe that he is very, very nervous…If you’re serious, you say I’m going to do my best and I’m going to win or I will train hard and so forth…not predicting a KO….you do that only if you are afraid to lose.” Bob Arum’s message to the Filipino people - “Manny is going to have a great training. Freddie’s got a good game plan. I guarantee you Manny is going to win this one!” Meanwhile, Atty. Franklin “Jeng” Gacal mentioned when I asked for his comments has this to say, “He’s nervous,” with regards to the pronouncement of Oscar De la Hoya. “He must be dreaming,” Gacal added.
Joel De La Hoya (ODLH’s brother) said he used to fight and most of his uncles plus Dad used to say he was a better boxer but he switched to baseball instead saying it did not hurt that much. When I asked why he quit boxing, he said, “In this sport, you have to have a lot of heart and Oscar has it.” He stated, “To be the only gold medalist of Mexican American descent…I think that means a lot to him.” He added, “This fight is up there in Oscar’s most memorable fights probably top 3.” Joel’s reasons why he thought Oscar will train hard is that - “Manny is one of the best fighters in the world…that’s why it is an extra motivation for Oscar…People like Manny bring out the best in Oscar,” he concluded.
DLH Conditioning Coach Robert Garcia (L), the author (center) and Oscar’s brother Joel De La Hoya (R ) at The Alamo “Dream Match” Press Con last Oct. 3, 2008
(Photo taken by Harvard educated sportswriter Pablo Torres of Sports Illustrated)
The Dream Tour continued to the Golden Gate Bridge next day. After the press conference both camps took a flight to San Francisco, where on Saturday¹s press con Oct. 4, Pacquiao stated that he did not know what Oscar meant by the KO in San Antonio. He said, “…because I don’t know the story of the Alamo…and all I can say is - just do it - less talk and more action” to the amusement and extensive clapping of the audience. The tour ended in East L.A. (Los Angeles), the hometown of Oscar De La Hoya, where it all started as a dream of winning the Olympic Gold medal in 1992. Both fighters are scheduled to continue their training the next day and be ready to fight in two months. As of this time, I got my cell phone lost in Houston, thanks to De La Hoya’s fan Hector S. Cantu for being so honest & returning it via DHL. We will be waiting for more news now that both boxers are in training and will follow them closely towards Dec. 6…if we were to…really - Remember The Alamo!.
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