Olympic Gold Medallist and 10-time world champion in six weight classes, Oscar de la Hoya opened his training camp yesterday to over 100 media members who made the trip up to the secluded mountains of Big Bear, CA to observe the boxing legend's training regiment first hand as he prepares for his December 6 "Dream Match" against The Ring Magazine pound-for-pound champion Manny Pacquiao at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and live on HBO Pay-Per-View.
Along with head trainer Ignacio "Nacho" Beristain, training consultant Angelo Dundee and the rest of his team, De La Hoya welcomed the impressive turnout of media members and gave his insight on his upcoming bout.
"It's great having Angelo Dundee here in camp because of what he brings to the table. It's not necessarily that he is here doing everyday teaching. But he is an inspiration and just listening to the stories he has to tell of all of the great champions he has worked with is motivation for me. To think that I have these two men-Nacho Beristain and Angelo Dundee-in my corner, two legends who combined have trained so many world champions is mind-boggling and makes me train harder."
"Obviously and depending on the outcome of December 6, the way I feel right now I could fight forever. This is what I love to do and I feel great doing it. The sparring, trying hard to be as fit and ready as I can, is just what I my mind and body are always willing to do when I am getting ready for a fight. I don't know when I will be done fighting because as you asked me today, I feel like I can continue on. If your body and mind is right, and you take care of yourself, you can last a long time in this sport.
"I have always wanted to fight the best out there, the most dangerous and the best match-ups. That is how I ended up wanting to fight Pacquiao. He is the best out there. I don't think weight will be a factor and this is the type of challenge that motivates me."
"The problems I see that will be heralds for me that night are that Manny Pacquiao is a southpaw with amazing speed. He is also young and powerful. But we are working on all that in camp and we will know how to neutralize him. We will be well prepared.
"I am bringing my weight down to 147 and actually am the lightest I have been in a long time in my career (De La Hoya weighed 145 yesterday morning). He obviously is coming up in weight. How does anyone really know what is going to happen? No one knows for sure what is going to happen when I fight a guy with his power and speed and he has to deal with me.
"I am fortunate to have a worldwide stage that has paid attention to my career and Manny Pacquiao has a huge following too. Now we are all over the place and the whole world is paying attention to this fight and wondering what the outcome is going to be. That in and of itself, is a thrill for me to be a part of another great event.
"Throughout my career, I have been extremely fortunate to have so many people who have been drawn to the sport of boxing because they were interested in my career. I realize I am a catalyst for the sport and I don't take that responsibility lightly. That is another reason I try to always compete at the highest level and give fans great fights by having match-ups with competition that gives me the most challenge and threat."
"I have great respect for Freddie Roach. I think he is one of the top trainers in the business. He just seems to be a little confused with his comments. When you think about what he is saying, and I am going to throw Bernard Hopkins and Vasquez in the mix here, he has said that all of us should retire once we stopped training with him. Now look at Hopkins' last fight, Vasquez also came back as a winner too. I did the same in my last fight and we will see what happens with this one. We all came back to win without him as our trainer.
"What is ironic to me is that all three of us lost when Freddie was training us, so you have to wonder if it isn't the trainer himself and he just trained us wrong. "
"Training in Big Bear has really motivated me for this fight. It's a different kind of training camp from Puerto Rico where I have been training for my last several fights. It has actually been six years since I was here and it is a whole different experience. It actually is much harder as the altitude gives you another element to deal with when you are training and out running the mountains.
"The altitude (6,752 feet) is a killer, and you have to train twice as hard just to catch your breath; to get in shape. But returning here is the best decision I could have made. The first few weeks were really hard, but now I have settled into the training and it's amazing how great I feel with weeks to go.
"I am a little older now and I have to listen to my body, know when it's getting fatigued and adjust so I can recover accordingly. When you get older, you have to listen to your body to continue to train. I love to train and get in great shape, so I am willing to pay attention and only do what I can on that given day in order to recover and go on to the next day. I feel great right now."
"At this stage of my career, the biggest motivation I have is my family. It's a lot different being married and having kids that need you and care about you.
"After a couple months up here I called Millie and told her they had to come and be with me as I missed them and needed them here. Just having them around, seeing my son and daughter everyday is all the motivation I need. You saw my son (Oscar Gabriel) at the gym today and just seeing his joy is a huge boost for me mentally.
"At this point it is all about my family. That is what I fight for at this stage of my career and it is the best reason I have had so far."
"We are both going to go in there and feel each other out. He is going to feel my punches and I am going to feel his. When that happens, then there is going to be a fight.
"I have to stick to my game plan, take control of the fight and keep that control for the entire fight. I am working on the timing of my punches too. The timing is going to be very important in this fight. I am going to time his speed and punches and match him no problem.
"I have speed and power too. He's shorter than me, and I am longer than him with a greater reach. I am a natural counter puncher too, so do I want to wait for him to make a mistake or make him make the mistake first?
"That is what makes this fight so intriguing. The timing, the pace and the rhythm of the fight is the great unknown. How we will match-up in the ring that night and who will get to execute their game plan the best? It's a very interesting fight and I think it is going to be a great night of boxing."
"Oscar looked very sharp today. He is in the best physical condition and is at a great point in the training process.
"There are three weeks left until the fight with Manny, and we are looking to work on Oscar's speed. He has reached the peak of his conditioning, so we're going to try and accomplish an increase in his speed.
"It's going to be a very difficult fight for Pacquiao. It's already a huge challenge when you face a left-handed boxer and Oscar has his size and great power to go with it so it should be a challenge for Manny. We need more speed and we have three weeks to work on it.
"I won't comment on the strategy too much, we'll save that for fight night. Manny is a great fighter, but a fighter with only one style and that style is not enough to beat Oscar.
"There has been a lot of talk about the weight difference between the two, Oscar is a very disciplined fighter and his drop in weight will not be a factor."
"I never realized Oscar trains like this. It's as though he is going to a picnic. He loves to train and he trains as hard as the nice guy he is, he loves it.
"Oscar is great for boxing. He is the pied-piper right now. My other pied-piper was Ali. He lures the media in and creates a great atmosphere. He gives a great feel to days like this. He is the revival of boxing, a sort of good-will ambassador for the sport.
"I feel that Oscar is a better boxer then Pacquiao. Style wise and conditioning wise, I am confident Oscar will beat him.
"Oscar knows how to fight the tough guy, he's done it his whole life and he excels against this type of boxer. His weight will be no big deal. I predict maybe a pound and a half will separate Oscar and Manny at most on fight night. Oscar will dictate the fight for the most part.
"My main concern with Oscar is that he doesn't leave it all in the training ring. He works very hard, but today he looks very relaxed which is a very good sign. Oscar is 36 and he is disciplined, but people will argue that boxers get to an age where they can no longer go the distance. However, you are only as old as you feel and I know Oscar is no where near that point. Oscar trains hard. He still has that passion he had when he started."
Promoted by Golden Boy Promotions and Top Rank, Inc., presented by Tequila Cazadores, and sponsored by Cerveza Tecate, DeWalt Tools, Full Throttle Energy Drink and Southwest Airlines. De La Hoya vs. Pacquiao, a 12-round welterweight battle, will take place Saturday, Dec. 6 at MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nev. The fight will be produced and distributed live by HBO Pay-Per View, beginning at 9 p.m. ET / 6 p.m. PT.
HBO's Emmy-Award-winning all-access franchise "24/7" returns with Oscar De La Hoya and Manny Pacquiao in starring roles. The four-episode series "De La Hoya/Pacquiao 24/7"premieres Sunday, Nov. 16th at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.