When it is all said and done, Oscar De La Hoya has accomplished much in boxing.
Olympic gold medalist. World title holder in six weight classes. Facing and beating some of the best fighters in the sport and doing record business along the way.
However, perhaps his greatest achievement has yet happen.
“I don’t care what it takes,” De La Hoya told RingTV.com. “I will end the Cold War for the fans.”
[Editor’s note: This interview took place before former Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer’s resignation announcement.]
That is a bold statement. The Cold War – the split between the two biggest boxing companies in the U.S., De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Promotions and Top Rank – has pretty much killed any opportunity of a Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Manny Pacquiao fight, along with other fan-demanded matchups, from happening.
And that is too bad, considering the amount of money both fighters and all parties involved (promoters, managers, networks, etc.) left on the table.
But De La Hoya believes both promotional companies can work together, despite the rivalry and competition between the two. So do boxing fans that have played matchmaker of sorts on social media, pairing certain fighters against others from the rosters to Top Rank and Golden Boy.
And it might happen sooner than we think. The boxing world was abuzz before the Mayweather-Marcos Maidana fight when De La Hoya wrote on his Twitter account of a meeting that took place with Bob Arum. De La Hoya said a second meeting with Arum will take place, but did not specify when that will occur.
Regardless, it is a step in the right direction.
“There are a lot of possibilities,” De La Hoya said. “You can do (Marcos) Maidana versus Pacquiao. You can do (Lucas) Matthysse and Brandon Rios. There’s a lot of possibilities.
“First things first, I had a meeting with Bob Arum. I’m going to have another meeting with him. And we’ll talk. We’ll sit down and then see what we can work out. This is for the sake of boxing and for the benefit of the sport. (It is) for the fans. They want to see the big fights happen. Well, I'm going to do it for the fans.”
De La Hoya seems reinvigorated due to staying clean from the well-documented drug and alcohol addiction that had consumed part of his life. His slips and rehabilitation periods kept him away from an active role with Golden Boy.
Many fans and industry people are pleased to see De La Hoya once again involved with his promotional company and the sport. His cross-over appeal into other sports (De La Hoya is part owner of the Houston Dynamo of Major League Soccer) is very strong and he is sought after for interviews whenever he is spotted on the red carpet of newsworthy events.
Aside from the diehard boxing fans that follow the sport, there is nothing wrong with creating new fans or to make casual fight fans follow the sport more closely. With De La Hoya involved with the day-to-day operations and giving more interviews to media outlets, could help boxing’s mainstream appeal.
But if anything, De La Hoya's recent struggles and social media announcements have reaffirmed his commitment to boxing and his intent to promote it the way it should be: the best fights for the boxing fan.
“It showed me that the fans are with me,” De La Hoya says of the public’s response to his recover and his comeback. “The people are with me. When somebody goes down, you don't walk over him. You don't kick him. You lift him up. And you give him the strength to get up.
“And what you do is you raise your hand in victory. That's what you do. And that's what I'm doing now. I'm getting off the canvas and raising myself up in victory because there's a lot of people out there who believe in me.
“A lot of people out there who want me to overcome and succeed and show and be an example. Now I can be an example. Look, I was there. I'm getting up and you can do it to. Whatever it is. Whatever difficult situation you're in, whatever problem you have, you can do it too the way I got up.”
The message sounds like a motivational speech but the consensus in the boxing world is De La Hoya involved in the sport is a good thing. Maybe he could be the one to end the Cold War. Maybe he could be the person to bridge the gap to co-promotions with Top Rank.
“I have a mission,” De La Hoya said, “and that mission is to make the best fights happen, to bring everybody together for the fans. That's all it is. It's for the fans.”
Francisco A. Salazar has written for RingTV since October of 2013 and has covered boxing in Southern California and abroad since 2000. He also covers boxing for the Ventura County (CA) Star newspaper, Boxingscene.com, and Knockout Nation. He could be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing