Pacquiao diary: Memories of Oscar

Editor’s note: This is the first of four diary entries, exclusive to Yahoo! Sports, from Manny Pacquiao, the No. 1 fighter in the Y! Sports pound-for-pound poll. Pacquiao fights Ricky Hatton at super lightweight on May 2 on HBO Pay Per View in the biggest fight so far in 2009.

I’m getting ready for one of the biggest fights of my career, when I face Ricky Hatton at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas on May 2, but I was very interested to hear what Oscar De La Hoya was going to announce Tuesday.

As I’m sure you know by now, De La Hoya said he is going to retire, so I can only wish him the best. He did a lot for boxing and he had a lot of fans.

Oscar was my idol and I never thought I would have the chance to fight him. When the fight was made last year, I was very excited. It is a big honor for me to have fought him in what was his last fight.

I think he made the right decision. It’s never easy to retire, because we all love boxing so much, but I think Oscar knew the time was right to retire. I’ll miss seeing him in the ring, like his fans will, but I’m happy for him that he’s healthy.

Photo Stepping in the ring with the great Oscar De La Hoya was an honor I never thought would happen.
(AP)

It’s only 16 days until I’m back in the ring. I’m already in very good condition and I’m working hard every day, though there is a lot for me to do to promote the fight. I had a workout for the media on Wednesday at the Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, Calif., and I couldn’t believe how big the turnout was.

It was pretty neat. There must have been 100 reporters there. It seems like the number keeps getting bigger for each fight. But that is fine with me, because that helps us let the fans know about this fight. I had to answer a lot of questions, but I don’t mind because I like to talk about boxing.

Ricky Hatton is a strong fighter and I know he’s very popular. He’s so popular, we had to go to England on the press tour to promote the fight there, in Ricky’s hometown of Manchester. He’s a nice guy, and I like him, but I was glad to see there were some Filipino people there who said they would be rooting for me.

I never expected that because it was my first time in England, but it was nice.

I can’t underestimate Ricky. I know I’m faster than he is, but I am taking him very seriously. He’s won a lot of fights and he’s a tough fighter. I have had a very good training camp already and I’m learning a lot, even now.

We’re going to fight this fight at 140 pounds. It’s a good weight for me and I like the weight. My fight against Oscar was at welterweight, and I could make it, but I’m very comfortable fighting in this weight division.

My trainer, Freddie Roach, has helped me so much. My whole coaching staff has been great to work with and they’ve taught me a lot. The former heavyweight champion, Michael Moorer, is working with me this time and he’s a good guy. I am learning a lot from him, too.

I know that Ricky’s trainer, Floyd Mayweather Sr., has been talking a lot, but I don’t really have too much to say about that. He can say what he wants. I don’t mind what he says. When the fight begins, it doesn’t matter anyway. It will be just Ricky and I in the ring.

I am going to do a few more of these training camp diaries for the readers at Yahoo! Sports. On Tuesday, I’m flying to San Francisco and I’ll throw out the first pitch at the Giants’ game at AT&T Park against the Padres. They’re giving fans a bobblehead doll of me. I hope they keep one to give to me!

I’ll let you know next week how that went and what else went on in my training camp. I hope everyone can come to the fight, too, because it’s going to be very exciting.

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Updated Thursday, Apr 16, 2009