Watching the Oscar de La Hoya-Manny “Pac-man” Pacquiao fight was of special interest to me. While I’m a boxing fan anyway, I also have worked for several professional boxers as a nutritional advisor. In this capacity, I worked with Oscar De La Hoya for 10 fights, beginning with his bout with legendary Mexican champion, Julio Cesar Chavez, in 1996, and ending with his bout with Oba Carr in 1999. I was part of a conditioning team that including Jon-Jon Park, the son of the great bodybuilder, Reg Park. Oscar never came close to losing a fight when we worked with him, although he was loath to give us any public credit for helping him to win. In fact, he had an exasperating habit of declaring himself in the best condition of his life prior to his bouts, only to say that he “wasn’t at his best,” immediately after the fight, despite winning such fights clearly.
When we initially approached Oscar in 1996, we had to convince him and his trainer that lifting weights wouldn’t hamper his main offensive weapon–his speed.
From a nutritional standpoint, Oscar’s diet was nothing short of atrocious. He had mostly junk foods, with a low protein, high processed carb diet. The fact that he was already a world champion said more about his innate skills than anything he was doing in his preparation for the fights.
I put Oscar on a high protein, moderate carb diet, and provided a host of supplements, several of which had never been used by any champion athlete. Within three months, the changes in Oscar became noticeable. His skin looked better, and he was showing far more muscle than he had previously.
We worked on rehabilitating his prior injuries and biomechanical defects, involving shoulder and lower back problems. I still recall Oscar telling me that the new program had “increased my speed about 20%.” And this was from an already fast boxer.
For the first 2 years, Oscar proved to be a man who took his celebrity status in stride. Besides being his nutrition advisor, I also doubled as a bodyguard whenever Oscar made his public appearances, since he was always mobbed by fans of all ages, particularly Latino women. These women would pass me notes to give to Oscar. I recall one that said,” Oscar, I will have your baby and you won’t have to pay for it!” Oscar always got big laugh out of such sentiments. On another occasion, Oscar gave the okay to have three gorgeous women let into his posh suite at the Caesar’s Palace hotel in Las Vegas. I sat next to Oscar and proceeded to tell the women how Oscar literally puts his life on the line every time he steps into the ring. The women left soon afterward, however, since Oscar’s then fiance was on the way in. He never married that particular woman, who appeared to have a single digit IQ, although she was quite the looker.
The third year working with Oscar, I noticed a change. He seemed increasingly arrogant and suspicious. The quiet, relaxed guy now turned into a tense guy who seemed angry about something. What I didn’t know at the time was that Oscar was in the process of firing his business manager. When he did this in 1999, he got rid of everyone, including his conditioning team. The only survivors to the purge were his brother and his boxing trainer, who himself lasted only one more fight.
Since we stopped working with him, Oscar has apparently returned to the same ancient training methods and diets that got him into physical trouble when we first met him. Rather than do the interval aerobic training that we had him on, which simulated the 3-minute rounds of actual boxing, or the weight-training exercises that likewise simulated boxing movements, Oscar returned to chopping wood and running long distances.
When he showed up to fight Pacquiao, he looked grossly over trained and catabolic. The muscle we had helped him build was only a distant memory. He looked, in bodybuilding parlance, “smooth and small.” Indeed, the much smaller Pac Man outweighed Oscar on the night of the fight, despite Pacquiao having a smaller frame, and being five inches shorter. Could we have helped Oscar win that night? Perhaps, when you consider that Oscar didn’t lose a fight until he stopped working with us. In fact, the first fight he had after us, to Felix Trinidad, he lost.
Pacquiao is without doubt a great and extremely aggressive fighter, and I think Oscar could have used all the strength and power, as well as speed, he had shown in the past. I believe that Oscar’s poor conditioning played an equal role to Pacquiao’s boxing skills in explaining Oscar’s devastating loss. Oscar looked both slow and weak in the ring. This is something I had never seen when he worked with us, and I don’t think it can be just written off to age. Had Oscar been properly conditioned, and provided some new supplements that I know about (all legal, no drugs), the outcome may have been different. Oscar lost not only to Pacquiao’s crisp and accurate punches, but also to his own arrogance and stupidity.
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