Five minutes with Oscar De La Hoya By John J. Raspanti, Doghouse Boxing (Dec 27, 2011) Doghouse Boxing - Tweet
By John J. Raspanti, Doghouse Boxing: A few weeks ago, I was fortunate enough to attend the Abner Mares / Joseph
Agbeko bantamweight championship fight at the Honda Center in Anaheim,
California. In total there were eight entertaining fights that night.
The last bout featured Mares and Agbeko in a rematch of their
controversial first fight.
The atmosphere was electric as Mares and Agbeko battled tooth and nail.
Most of the crowd roared, but some, a small but enthusiastic group from
Agbeko’s native country of Ghana, chanted throughout the fight. Between
rounds, I found myself glancing over and watching these people, as they
clapped, sang and hugged.
After the fights had concluded, I made my way to a runaway exit for a
pre-arranged meeting with Oscar De La Hoya. I spotted lightweight
contender Robert “The Ghost” Guerrero and his publicist ,Mario Serrano.
Great guys these two. After speaking for a few minutes, Guerrero and
Serrano headed towards the press conference.
A security guard stopped the contender to check his I.D. At that point I
couldn’t resist calling out, “Hey you can't stop the ghost.” The
security guy gave me a funny face. A minute or so later he wandered over
to me and said, “Who was that guy anyway?”
"The Ghost," I said. "World ranked fighter."
"Means nothing to me,” he said, and went back over to join his security friends.
I could see Don King holding court near the ring waving a couple of flags (only in America) and grinning. I found it interesting since his fighter, Agbeko, had lost.
But then, what do I know?
Oscar De La Hoya was on the opposite side of the ring surrounded by a
crowd of boxing fans. Oscar graciously signed every book, glove or shirt
placed in front of him. He patiently submitted to all requests for
pictures. I had walked over to the runaway with my tape recorder ready
as the former six-time champion walked towards me.
Of course, I knew him by sight, as did everyone in the Honda Center. His
focus was thirty feet in front of him, where soon he would be hosting a
I caught up with him and said, “Hi Oscar. I’m John with doghouseboxing, I
heard you made a real friend in Sy Sherman yesterday at the weigh-in.”
As soon as De La Hoya heard the name he slowed, glanced at me, and smiled.
"What an amazing kid he is," he said. "He was playing video games and having such a good time. He’s such a sweet kid."
Sy, who is eight years old, is suffering from a rare form of liver
cancer. Last February his doctors told the his family he had eight
months to live. Everyone that who comes in contact with Sy is touched by
his sense of humor and kindness. The little boy is attached to the
Make-A-Wish foundation as is De La Hoya's company.
We were still walking and I knew my time was short. When De La Hoya
founded Golden Boy Promotions, he mentioned wanting to clean up boxing
and bring it back to it's former glory. I asked how he thought his
company was doing.
He paused and said, "I’m very optimistic that the changes are coming.
Obviously, when I first started promoting, I had no clue what the game
was inside the ropes or outside. I really had no idea what goes on. But,
I’m very optimistic boxing will flourish in the years to come. There is
no doubt about it, that boxing will become a sport comparable to
baseball, and the NFL in terms or popularity. It might take some time
but I have no doubt it will happen."
The career of the boxer is short and not always sweet. I've often
wondered how difficult it is to give up something that made you famous,
defined you as a person, and gave you your greatest glory. Most boxers
are in their 30's when they hang up the gloves. There have been rumors
for months that De La Hoya, who retired from the sport two years ago,
was coming back. I asked him how much he missed boxing and if he wanted a
rematch with Felix Trinidad. He chuckled as he met my eyes.
"I do miss it, I do miss going up there and trading punches," he said. "
When I feel that, I wake and go run and the following morning after
that, I run and hit the heavy bag. But then, the following day, after I
hit the heavy bag, I can’t get out of bed. So, that’s a reality check
for me. There’s no more boxing."
“I think you could still whip a lot of guys,” I said with a smile.
De La Hoya's smile was bigger, as he replied “That will never happen.”
We were now standing off to the side of where the press conferece would
commence. In a grand gesture, De La Hoya suggested that we continue the
interview a few feet from the tables and microphones. Lots of people
were milling about and I could feel them looking at me. De La Hoya was
oblivious to all of it. He waited patiently for me to ask my next
"Are promoter Bob Arum's constant putdowns bothersome?"
“No, It’s not bothersome at all," he said. "At this point, I feel sorry
for Bob. That’s all I can feel. There are obviously issues with him,
he’s a promoter that’s been in this game for a long time. He should go
out with honor, promote his fights, and sail off into the sunset but
obviously, that’s not the case. It’s fine with us, let him do what he
wants to do and we will do what we were going to do. Anyway, for the
next forty five years of my life I’m going to be promoting."
I followed up asking De La Hoya why Arum was constantly critical of Golden Boy.
"Because he can’t lie to us, he can’t pull a fast one on us. We are
smarter then him. I can see Bob Arum coming a mile away. I know when
he’s fooling the public. He can’t fool us, that’s why he doesn’t work
with us,” he said.
One of De La Hoya's assistants gave me the sign to end the interview. But I had one more question.
"Will the Saul Alvarez and Julio Cezar Chavez fight happen soon," I asked.
"I doubt it. But, I hope the following year that it can happen." he said, "that will be a big fight".
With that we shook hands. I thanked him for taking the time. "You're
welcome," he said as he stepped away, turned, and was swallowed up by
his staff and the media. --
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