Renegade Bernard Hopkins stands by Oscar De La Hoya
ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. — Golden Boy President Oscar De La Hoya said he and Bernard Hopkins cemented their future during a five minute face-to-face conversation five month ago.
Their meeting took place on the morning of July 12, the day Canelo Alvarez won a split-decision over Erislandy Lara at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. It also transpired just over a month after the acrimonious resignation of Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer, to whom Hopkins had declared his loyalty.
“I remember that meeting. It was actually that Saturday morning right before the Canelo fight with Lara,” De La Hoya told RingTV.com. “We sat down and he heard me talk for five minutes and he was convinced. After that, he said that he was going to support me, 100 percent. That meant a lot. It proved that the truth will always prevail.”
De La Hoya was in attendance for Thursday’s final press conference at Caesars Hotel in advance of Saturday’s light heavyweight title unification bout between Hopkins (55-6-2, 32 knockouts), holder of the IBF and WBA belts, and WBO counterpart Sergey Kovalev (25-0-1, 23 KOs) at Boardwalk Hall.
Hopkins raised the subject of that meeting with reporters, and said his support was conditional given De La Hoya’s past substance abuse issues.
“I said to him that ‘If I am coming here, then you’re going to walk the straight line,'” said Hopkins. “You ask him. That’s what I told Oscar. I said, ‘You’re going to walk the straight line.’ I was raised old school.”
Hopkins, who turns 50 in January, has twice become the oldest man to win a major title, following that up by becoming the oldest fighter to unify the belts. After winning the IBF’s vacant middleweight title from Segundo Mercado in April 1995, Hopkins went on to defend it a record 20 times before losing to Jermain Taylor by a split decision in July 2005.
A ninth-round stoppage of De La Hoya in September of 2004 represented Hopkins’ 19th defense. In addition, the victory added De La Hoya’s WBO middleweight belt to the IBF, WBA and WBC belts that Hopkins already owned.
It was not long after their fight, said De La Hoya, that Hopkins was named a partner in Golden Boy.
“Here you have a guy who, when I made him a partner, people started talking and placing actual bets on the over and under as to how many months it was going to take for Bernard Hopkins and Oscar De La Hoya to call it a day, because back then, Bernard Hopkins’ reputation was one where he was always questioning the promoter,” said De La Hoya.
“His reputation was one of always questioning the managers and of fighting for what’s right. But I think that the fact that we’ve stuck together for so long, it goes to show you that the way I work is working with honesty, and respect and with integrity. Over the years, we’ve had a perfect relationship.”
Their partnership received a big assist in August, when De La Hoya and Golden Boy matchmaker Eric Gomez secured Kovalev for Hopkins with Main Events CEO Kathy Duva.
“I’ve been a renegade in boxing all of my life,” said Hopkins, recalling the July conversation with De La Hoya. “That’s why I took his side.”