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Oscar De La Hoya: As a Fighter and as a Promoter, He’s Been a Boon for Boxing

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  • Oscar De La Hoya: As a Fighter and as a Promoter, He’s Been a Boon for Boxing

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    By Rick Assad

    Oscar De La Hoya is an anomaly and one of the most successful and unique figures in the history of boxing.

    De La Hoya rose from the mean streets of East Los Angeles to capture the Gold Medal at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain, and then carved out a wildly productive career inside the ring where he became a 10-time world champion in six different weight divisions.

    Sure, De La Hoya isn't the first to take this road and likely won't be the last to navigate this route to fame and fortune. But what separated De La Hoya from so many others who came before is that while still boxing, six years before his final fight, he became a fight promoter. And not just any fight promoter, but one of the most prominent and important, alongside Bob Arum, CEO of Top Rank, which promoted many of De La Hoya's fights.

    After countless big fights and huge sums of money earned on both sides, De La Hoya sued Arum, claiming that millions of dollars never found its way into his bank account. De La Hoya wanted out of his contract and the matter was settled in 2001 with De La Hoya prevailing.

    De La Hoya founded Golden Boy Promotions in 2002. Keenly aware that a boxer, even the best, can fall victim to his own fame and outside influences, De La Hoya wanted to change the template. He knew the pitfalls first hand, having been at the very top and bottom of the mountain.

    Like many boxers before him, De La Hoya has battled drugs and alcohol, a combination more powerful than Bernard Hopkins, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao, three great champions that he lost to in the ring. Still, De La Hoya, like most everything that he's done in his life, has come out smelling like a rose.

    Take the recent rematch between Saul "Canelo" Alvarez and Gennady Golovkin for the middleweight championship at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. De La Hoya, who co-promoted the mega-fight claimed by Alvarez via majority decision, was proud to have had a hand in both money-making bouts.

    Beside Alvarez, Golden Boy Promotions has under its umbrella such up-and-coming stars as Angel Acosta, the World Boxing Organization light flyweight champion, Jaime Munguia, the undefeated WBO junior middleweight title holder who was on the Alvarez-Golovkin II undercard, unblemished Rey Vargas, the World Boxing Council super bantamweight king and undefeated Alberto Machado, the World Boxing Association super featherweight belt holder.

    Knowing just how tough it is to reach the top, De La Hoya recognizes that a boxer's time in the ring is limited and that the right promoter is crucial if he is to reach the top rung of the ladder.

    De La Hoya said that boxing helped him to know what makes him tick. “Talk about never giving up, that's exactly what boxing taught me,” he said. “Look, you're going to get knocked down in a round or two. Just get back up and imagine winning the fight after you get knocked down several times. It's that much more gratifying.''

    De La Hoya, who lost to Shane Mosley twice, said he wants to make the best matches for the fans because without their support at the venue or buying pay-per-view telecasts, his job as a promoter would be that much tougher.

    “That's what it's about, working with everyone,'' he said. “Working with the best promoters in the world so that the fans can see the best fights. In today's boxing landscape...it's not that they are afraid, but they are not taking risks to make the best fights for the public, because they may lose their fighter. It's not our case. If our fighter is ready for a championship fight or to fight with the best in the world, we do it....that's how we are, we think of the fans first.”

    Nicknamed the “Golden Boy” by the media en route to the Olympic Gold Medal, De La Hoya soon after became the face of boxing. Blessed with movie star good looks, an outgoing personality, a powerful jab and a knockout punch, he became one of the most popular fighters ever. He was 31-0 before losing a majority decision to Felix Trinidad at the Mandalay Bay in September 1999 and finished his professional career with a record of 39 wins, six losses and 30 knockouts.

    By any measure, these assets helped De La Hoya transition into his second career as a promoter. “It was a tough road, but not an impossible one,” he said of being a promoter. “I love this hands on. I love this day-to-day. I love the decision making. I love creating and putting together what ultimately is going to be, I believe, my legacy.”

    Of course, De La Hoya, who defeated Fernando Vargas, Ricardo Mayorga and Arturo Gatti and has already been inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, seems to want something more than being recognized as one of the all-time ring greats.

    How about a second ceremony as a fight promoter? “I actually do have a goal as a promoter, and that's to be the very first fighter to be inducted into the Hall of Fame again, the second time around, as a promoter. I don't think it's ever been done,” he said.

    Still the road hasn't always been easy for De La Hoya, who has had some of his demons exposed.

    Glenn Cooper, who worked in ESPN's advertising department, has known De La Hoya for many years. “Oscar's had some problems,” he said recently. “He's battled them and come out better for it. I've had my own problems and I told Oscar that if he ever needed someone to call, I'd be there. He called me a few times and I tried to be there for him.”

    Cooper added, “Oscar's such a really nice guy. But when you lead that type of lifestyle where everybody knows who you are, it's not easy staying out of trouble.”

    Then there was the breakup with longtime business partner Richard Schaefer, a well-connected Swiss banker who joined De La Hoya and helped build what has become a business empire.

    Initially Schaefer, who was the CEO of Golden Boy Promotions before leaving in 2014 in order to form his own company, Ringstar Sports, handled only the business end, often working with fighters and managing their careers. Schaefer then switched gears and began lining up deals for several major boxing matches.

    When De La Hoya was in rehabilitation, Schaefer began taking over more responsibility. Critical was that Schaefer allowed many of the promotional contracts under Golden Boy with adviser/promoter Al Haymon to expire, which obviously left the company vulnerable.

    In June 2014, De La Hoya sued Schaefer for $50 million and the case was settled by an arbitrator in De La Hoya's favor.

    De La Hoya recently expanded Golden Boy Promotions to include MMA. The company’s first venture will be a third meeting between former UFC superstars Chuck Liddell and Tito Ortiz, set for Nov. 24 at the Inglewood Forum.

    "I'm really looking forward to getting involved with MMA and building a new business,'' he said recently. “If any fighter who is an MMA fighter wants to explore a different avenue, come knock on our door, give us a call. I'm really excited about starting Golden Boy MMA. When we do things, we do them the right way, just like we've done in boxing.''

    Don Chargin, who just passed away at age 90, joined Golden Boy Promotions as a senior adviser late in his legendary career.

    With more than six decades of experience under his belt as a matchmaker and promoter, Chargin, dubbed "War A Week" by sportscaster Jim Healy after making so many fan-friendly fights at the Olympic Auditorium in Los Angeles, was a valuable asset for De La Hoya.

    Chargin was perhaps even more of an asset for Eric Gomez, president of Golden Boy, who said he owes Chargin a huge debt of gratitude for teaching him how to be a matchmaker.

    No, De La Hoya isn't perfect, but he has operated Golden Boy Promotions at an extremely high level and has been a boon for boxing.

    Check out more boxing news on video at The Boxing Channel

  • #2
    Next stop President????????????? Still this article presents a valid dimension of Oscar flaws and all. He's like a Junior Arnold Schwarzenegger..

    Comment


    • #3
      De La Hoya has surrounded himself with some very capable people and that has helped his company as much as anything. Roberto Diaz, his matchmaker, not only is very good at what he does but has a very keen eye for up and coming talent.

      Comment


      • #4
        There's no doubt Oscar was a great champion/boxer there for a while.


        But, that last sentence . . . .
        .
        No, De La Hoya isn't perfect, but he has operated Golden Boy Promotions at an extremely high level and has been a boon for boxing”.


        Interesting.




        Cheers,

        StormCentre.

        Comment

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