By Steve Kim:The last several months have seen something that perhaps had never happened during the past decade at Golden Boy Promotions - Oscar De la Hoya dutifully coming to its offices in downtown L.A. and putting in an honest day’s work. His days letting someone else run the shop while he was ensconced in Puerto Rico are over, especially since the resignation of his CEO, Richard Schaefer several weeks ago.
When asked about the status of his company, post-Schaefer, De la Hoya told Maxboxing on Tuesday afternoon, “Since the resignation of Richard Schaefer, well, things are moving forward. We are making fights, we are moving forward with Golden Boy and its business and we have a big fight coming up this weekend. We are preparing and getting ready with the July 12th mega-pay-per-view event with [Saul] ‘Canelo’ Alvarez and Erislandy Lara, so things are moving.”
Was De la Hoya surprised when Schaefer - with whom he was butting heads - suddenly resigned?
“Absolutely,” he answered, “because all along I’ve been saying that I wanted Richard to stay so we can work it out and for weeks prior to his resignation, so it caught me by surprise.”
But you get the sense this was a bit of gamesmanship from Oscar and his legal team, a cat-and-mouse game between the two sides. If this were a marriage, not only were these two sleeping in separate bedrooms, one of them was spending nights at a local hotel. It was bound for a divorce. When asked how his relationship was with Schaefer at the end, De la Hoya stated, “It was a working relationship; obviously, just our focus was to make fights and move forward with Golden Boy Promotions.”
Sources say that at the end, it was rather tense inside the Golden Boy offices with different factions existing between the walls. Last week, COO Bruce Binkow (thought to be a “Schaefer guy”) resigned his post. There is plenty of speculation throughout the industry that Schaefer simply did not act in the best interest of Golden Boy Promotions and did not uphold the fiduciary interest of the company. There is a very good possibility of litigation against the former Swiss banker.
“Well, that’s up to the lawyers; that’s up to my lawyer, Bert Fields, who, in my eyes, is one of the best lawyers around and there’s really no other comment on that. But it’s up to them,” said De la Hoya. One of the key issues regards exactly whom is under the Golden Boy banner and which fighters were allowed to use their dates and television slots as free agents advised by the influential Al Haymon. “I have an in-house lawyer at Golden Boy and we know who’s under contract with Golden Boy. We have several fighters under contract and we’re very optimistic,” said De la Hoya, whose company is staging a card at the StubHub Center this weekend that will be televised by Showtime.
Boxers such as Shawn Porter and Erislandy Lara have made it clear their allegiance is more to Haymon that Golden Boy. De la Hoya remains undaunted by the prospect that some of those who were believed to have been on his roster simply aren’t or will soon have expiring deals.
“Just like we built every fighter that is out there now like Adrien Broner, like Robert Guerrero, the likes of Gary Russell Jr., Danny Garcia and Deontay Wilder; I mean, we’re in the promoting business. That’s what we do and we’re the best at it,” said De la Hoya. It has to be noted that the aforementioned fighters are with Haymon and some - like Russell - are said not have official Golden Boy contracts.
“I have the two top matchmakers - if not in the U.S. - in the world with Eric Gomez and Roberto Diaz. So we’re optimistic that we will continue to do what we’re doing and give the fight fans what they deserve,” he continued. When asked his relationship with Haymon, De la Hoya says, “Great. Al Haymon has been good to work with and I’ve had several conversations with Al that have been very positive and we know he has a lot of fights and all the talent. It’s important that we keep a wide-open communication and one thing about Al is that he has a very close relationship with Eric Gomez because they’re the ones who make all these fights happen.
"So my relationship with him has always been one that has been a good one.”
One Haymon client who made it clear he would have nothing to do with De la Hoya’s company in the wake of Schaefer’s resignation is Floyd Mayweather, who has made his intention clear to return to the ring on September the 13th, most likely at his familiar haunts in Las Vegas. There’s one problem: as of now, he still doesn’t have a promoter’s license in Nevada. Every one of his bouts since 2007 has been under the auspices of Golden Boy.
De la Hoya points out, “Well, look, obviously Golden Boy has the date locked in at the MGM [Grand] in Las Vegas and obviously we’ll be discussing any further details soon because first we’re focusing on this upcoming fight on this weekend and then we’ll be moving onto our next dates we have in July, including the ‘Canelo’ card and so on. So we’re moving full steam ahead; we’re making fights. And my goal is to just give the fans the fights that they want.”
Speaking of which, what about his pledge to end the “Cold War” with Top Rank Promotions by co-promoting a fight by the end of 2014 (this weekend’s bout between Russell and Lomachenko doesn’t count given it was a purse bid situation).
"Absolutely, absolutely,” he said when this issue was broached. “I promised the fans and I will deliver.”
So De la Hoya is back, perhaps really in charge of his company for the first time ever. But being a power broker is nothing new for him; only now, he’s doing it from behind a desk. Being in this business of hard knocks is what he loves and beyond that, perhaps it’s what he needs as he transitions to the next stage of his life, sober and happy.
“Absolutely, like I’ve been here at the office every single day, the first one here and the last one out,” he states. “This is what I love doing; boxing is my life. Boxing is what I breathe and this is what I love doing. When I started Golden Boy in 2002, I had a vision; I had a plan and a lot of times in any business, you have to shake the tree. So life goes on and you move forward and for me, yes, absolutely, it’s like riding a bike. But now, it’s not like I’m riding a tricycle, I’m riding a...”
“Oh, baby,” he says laughing at the thought.
June 20, 2014