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De La Hoya reeling after loss to Pacquiao

As Oscar De La Hoya was being taken to a hospital, the man whose fists had caused the damage stood at a podium inside a casino ballroom to discuss their fight.

Manny Pacquiao was dressed nattily in a dark suit with his black hair combed neatly to one side, looking more like someone who was about to step out for a date than the boxer who had brought De La Hoya to surrender inside the ring one hour earlier.

Pacquiao spoke of how speed was ''the king of the fight,'' how his quickness overcame size and reputation and proved to be the difference in his eight-round technical knockout of De La Hoya on Saturday at the MGM Grand.

And Pacquiao used the opportunity to interject a personal thought.

De La Hoya, the 29-year-old Filipino said, ``is still my idol.''

Only De La Hoya now is a fallen idol.

The luster is off the Golden Boy, a point that Pacquiao made abundantly clear in his overwhelming victory over the former champ.

He landed 224 punches to 83 for De La Hoya, who was so soundly beaten, his left eye nearly swollen shut, that he did not answer the bell for the ninth.

CALLING IT QUITS

''I stopped the fight because I did not want him to leave his greatness in the ring,'' said De La Hoya's trainer, Nacho Beristain.

Beristain made official what most everyone inside the MGM and a pay-per-view audience saw soon after the opening bell: that De La Hoya is no longer the boxer he once was and that retirement might be his only recourse.

Pacquiao was the aggressor at all times, scoring almost at will.

''I knew from Round 1 we had him,'' said Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach. ``He had no legs.

``He was hesitant. He was shot.''

Roach had an axe to grind. De La Hoya hired Roach as his trainer, then fired him after just one fight last year against Floyd Mayweather Jr. Now Roach sat in the opposite corner and delighted in the outcome.

After Saturday's fight, when De La Hoya crossed the ring to congratulate Pacquiao, he turned to Roach and confessed, ``You were right, Freddie. I don't have it anymore.''

Roach said of De La Hoya at the postfight news conference: ``He had a great career. But I would like to see him retire, because it's over.''

RETIREMENT NEXT?

There has been no official word from De La Hoya on that just yet, though he had said beforehand that if he didn't defeat Pacquiao, ``It's over.''

As it probably should be.

De La Hoya, 35, has regressed.

He has now fought just seven times since 2003, losing four of those bouts. He was never in it Saturday.

Pacquiao kept to the game plan, forcing the fight to the middle of the ring in the early rounds and staying on the move to negate De La Hoya's jab.

He increased the pressure in the seventh, hammering De La Hoya with blows to the face and backing him into the ropes. Between rounds, the ring doctor examined De La Hoya but allowed the fight to continue.

But the fight was gone from the former champion.

''I was connecting with everything,'' Pacquiao said. ``He was connecting with nothing.''

Said De La Hoya: ``My body seemed not able to respond.

``I didn't have the strength to stop him.''

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