The personal travails and embarrassments of De la Hoya are well-known and documented and over time, he became less and less of a presence at his own company. When he was asked if his return is tied to his personal recovery, he stated, “Listen, I won 10 world titles [in] six different weight classes, [Olympic] gold medals, a life of luxury, a lot of everything; I don’t know how I made it. I don’t know how I did it. It was just a blur but now, now that I retired, I had this knockdown in my life. I had a knockdown in my life; I was down on the canvas. I was down.
“And I could’ve stayed down; I could’ve stayed down and just stayed there and nobody would ever have heard me again. But I decided to get back up. I’m going to get back up. I’m going to get back up and lift my hand in victory. That’s what I’m going to do.”
“What I’ve always intended to do right from the beginning - to help the sport that helped me.”
As De la Hoya speaks, you can hear the enthusiasm and passion in his voice. Yes, in the past, you could accuse him of being scripted and contrived, a cliché-machine whose statements were as predictable as him throwing a left hook during his prime. His tone is both relaxed and confident. There is now a certain emotion and excitement to his body language and facial expressions. Right now, he’s like a politician on the campaign trail, making media appearances, shaking hands and kissing babies.
It’s no secret that he and his CEO, Richard Schaefer have different visions regarding the future of Golden Boy.
“Look, we’re going to work things out. Things are being worked out; that’s it,” said De la Hoya, when asked about this relationship with the former Swiss banker, who has made it very clear that he simply will not do business with archrival Top Rank Promotions and its head, Bob Arum. Beyond that, De la Hoya would like to perhaps stem the influence of Al Haymon and his clients, who, in recent years, have taken up more and more slots on their cards on Showtime and FoxSports1. It’s no secret that De la Hoya has enlisted the services of powerful attorney Bert Fields to help sort this all out, as there almost seems to be a cat-and-mouse game between the two. You get the sense that terms like “fiduciary duty” and “non-compete” will soon become part of the boxing lexicon in the upcoming weeks and months as this conflict is resolved.
Could there be a Golden Boy without Schaefer in the future?
“Look,” said De la Hoya with an upbeat tone, “right now, as we speak, we’re just working things out - that’s it. I haven’t even thought about that. It hasn’t even crossed my mind. That seriously has not crossed my mind. But to answer your question quickly, anything...anything is possible. Like I said, I’m here and Golden Boy will be bigger and better than ever - regardless of what happens.”
Whatever takes place, De la Hoya, who will be working all four legs of this press tour (which started in Los Angeles, then will land in San Antonio, New York and then Puerto Rico), will be more hands on. “That’s my company,” he pointed out forcefully with a laugh. “This is my company, y’know? I’m here.”
OK, it’s one thing to chaperone “Canelo” - who is perhaps the most important client Golden Boy has on its roster - but is Oscar ready to show up to work on a much more consistent basis and spend more time at the office instead of the golf course? For years, he could best be described as an absentee owner.
“Absolutely, that’s what I’ve been doing now for the last few weeks. It’s been great. See, you have to realize and you have to recognize that I’ve been the ‘Golden Boy’ since was eight, nine years old. They gave me the official title in 1992 when I won the gold medal. But I’ve been this ‘Golden Boy’ ever since I started,” said De la Hoya, recounting his two-fisted Cinderella story. “I was the kid who was going to take my family out of poverty and move them to bigger and better places and I’ve always had that pressure on me. I’ve always been that person that’s going to...y’know, be ‘the savior of everything’! But y’know what? What about me? Who’s thinking about me?
“Well, I’m now thinking about me and a long as I’m OK, everything’s going to be OK.”
There are some who will simply take Oscar’s words as empty rhetoric and some will never forgive him for his past indiscretions (some of which took place out of the ring) but he can be a hero to a legion of fans by ending the “Cold War” between Golden Boy and Top Rank. Can he be the driving force that can tear down this wall? “I believe in myself 100 percent. I can get that accomplished,” he says with confidence. The problem is his CEO has different ideas, to which De la Hoya reiterates, “I’m the owner of the company. I can get that done 100 percent.”
For a period of time, Oscar – who, just last year, was handing out retweets on Twitter like government cheese to anyone who pledged to cancel their HBO after they jettisoned his company from their airwaves - had no problems lobbing grenades of his own. He wasn’t above taking a shot or three at his former promoter, Arum. He regrets letting this conflict fester for so long.
“Oh, yes, of course. Look, I have no personal issues with Bob Arum anymore. I did before, which was very wrong of me but now, I went to his house. He has this beautiful house that I probably helped him build,” cracked De la Hoya, who got a good laugh out of that one. Last week, they broke bread. “We remembered old times together. I just wanted to tell him thank you for what he did for my career. And now that we have buried the hatchet - and we didn’t talk no business whatsoever - but who knows? Maybe the next meeting or the following meeting after that, we can talk business.
“Why not? For the betterment of the sport, for the betterment of the fans, to make sure that we get those fights and make them happen.”
So Golden Boy and Top Rank can and will work together in the near future?
“100 percent...100 percent,” said De la Hoya, who understands the network alliances that exist but can still envision a scenario in which the two companies can call each other, propose fights and make those the public yearns for. And this process will include him. “I will be right there involved in everything, OK? That’s why we have a staff; that’s why we have a family of people that work with us. That’s why we have a COO; we have CFOs; we have CEO’s and then we have the owner. I will be right there involved in everything.”
De la Hoya says he hears from the public about the frustrations about the “Cold War.” “Every single day but let me tell you - let me assure you - I’m working on it.” In many respects, he feels it’s his duty to make up for past transgressions. “There’s so much room for growth; we haven’t even scratched the surface. Boxing is the sport that gave me everything. This is a way to give back.”
So there he is; the “Golden Boy” is burying hatchets and trying to rebuild bridges, all after hitting rock bottom.
“I decided I didn’t want to be a statistic. I decided that. I didn’t want my family to hear the news that I’m dying...no, that’s not me. That’s not what the ‘Golden Boy’s’ all about. I’m going to fight. I’m going to fight and get off the canvas,” he said with conviction. “I named my little girl ‘Victoria,’ which means ‘victory’ in Spanish. I’m going to win this fight. I’m going to win this fight and I’m going to raise my hand in victory - for me, for my family, for the sport, for the fans.
“I’m going to do this.”
Here’s this week episode of “The Next Round” with Gabe Montoya and Yours Truly:
An interesting crossroads bout between Juan Manuel Lopez and Francisco Vargas has been added as part of the Canelo-Lara pay-per-view undercard bout...The June 28th bout between Terence Crawford and Yuriorkis Gamboa is set for the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Nebraska on HBO. A press conference (which is open to the public at 12:30 p.m., CT) is scheduled at this venue on Thursday...RIP Jimmy Ellis...Can’t wait for the NFL Draft. No, seriously, this coverage has now become overkill...That HBO “Real Sports” segment on dog breeding last week was pretty depressing...“The Simpsons” “Lego” episode was pretty doggone clever. Hey, who didn’t enjoy Legos as a kid (or even now for that matter)?...Geez, the Warriors fired Mark Jackson?...Ican be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and I tweet at www.twitter.com/stevemaxboxing. We also have a Facebook fan page at www.facebook.com/MaxBoxing, where you can discuss our content with Maxboxing readers as well as chime in via our fully interactive article comments sections.