Golden Boy promoter Oscar De La Hoya sat down for an interview with The MMA Hour on Wednesday and got into a long list of topics.
- His hope to make Ryan Garcia vs Gervonta Davis this year and how many PPVs he thinks that can sell
- That certain person Al Haymon blocking potential major fights in boxing
- His falling out with Canelo Alvarez and why he wouldn’t have made Canelo vs Bivol
- His desire now to work with Dana White and UFC
- The failure of Golden Boy MMA in 2018
- Him not knowing who Jaime Munguia’s opponent this weekend is
Here’s what Oscar had to say.
On boxing being hot right now
“I’ve been beating the drum for years now. Boxing is such a fragmented years. I’ve been beating the drum, let’s all work together. Whether we cross the street or we meet halfway, whatever, let’s get fights done. I take a page out of my good friend Bob Arum’s book when he once told me 20 years ago, when I started promoting, ‘Work with everybody. Make the big fights happen, and boxing will continue to thrive.’ That’s exactly what we’re seeing.
“To make these big fights happen, a lot of promoters and managers have to let their egos down and listen to the fighters for once. I think that’s key here. It’s like Ryan Garcia, who’s fighting Javier Fortuna on July 16, but he wants Tank (Davis). So yesterday I made an announcement telling Tank himself, if he’s a free agent, or even if he’s not, I would love to work with Mayweather and his promotional company and make this fight happen. I’m ready to make him a multi-multi-multi-million dollar offer. We can stage it on both platforms, DAZN and Showtime, and it’s a win for everybody.”
On whether Davis vs Garcia happens this year
“I hope so. I’m gunning for November. Ryan Garcia, if he gets past Fortuna, which I believe he will — I believe Ryan has too much firepower, he might stop him in the sixth or seventh round. If that happens, we hopefully can focus on November and try and get this fight done.
“I would think it’s almost impossible, because there’s a certain person who works against everyone in the industry. The ‘manager on paper,’ Al Haymon, who controls everybody on Showtime and all the fighters there, doesn’t want to make these big fights happen. It’s incredible, I just do not understand it. But I’m going to keep pushing.
“I was once a fighter, so I understand that these fighters want these big fights, and I know what it takes to get them done as a promoter. I’m just listening to the fans here and trying to push as hard as I can. It’s not our fault, it’s not the fighters’ fault, it’s just a certain person who doesn’t want to make these big fights happen.”
On whether there are promoters he won’t work with
“No, I’ll work with everybody. I’ve worked with Bob Arum, I’ve worked with Don King in the past, I’ve worked with every single promoter out there in the world. I have no problem whatsoever, I have no ego whatsoever. I just want to make these fights happen. That certain person, Al Haymon, who basically controls everything, all the fighters at PBC, it’s a tough position to be in. But as long as we keep on beating that drum, hopefully he’ll crack.”
On the current state of Golden Boy Promotions
“I’m extremely happy with where it’s at. Obviously we were, when I started Golden Boy Promotions, I built it and we had every single fighter in the world. The best fighters in the world who were fighting today were my fighters. That certain person I’m talking about, Al Haymon, he’s a very, very interesting character in the sport of boxing. Every single fighter I had, like Deontay Wilder and (Terence) Crawford*, fighters like (Errol) Spence, all those guys, they’re all world champions now.”
[* Editor’s Note: Terence Crawford has never been a Golden Boy fighter. The only Golden Boy show he ever fought on was a Top Rank and Golden Boy co-promoted event in 2011. Crawford has also never been a PBC fighter.]
“What we’re doing now is rebuilding our stable, with the Vergil Ortizes of the world, Zurdo (Ramirez) and Jaime Munguia, Ryan Garcia, JoJo Diaz. This is what we do best, build the best fighters out there. We’re on the cusp of building world champions. They’re one fight away. Ryan Garcia is one fight away, Jaime Munguia’s a fight away, Zurdo’s one fight away* from fighting Bivol, who just beat Canelo. He’s next in line. It’s exciting times at us for Golden Boy.”
[* Editor’s Note: Munguia and Zurdo have already held world titles at 154 and 168 lbs, respectively.]
On whether he wants to sell Golden Boy
“Um, eventually, yeah. I’m actually getting fed up and tired. Look at all these grey hairs, man. (laughing) No, but, look, if the right opportunity presents itself to merge, to partner up — I’ll never sell my company, I love Golden Boy, I love what I do. The sport of boxing gave me everything inside and outside the ring, what I have, what I represent. Boxing is my love. The fight game is my love. I might partner up, but I’ll never sell.”
On what went wrong in his relationship with Canelo Alvarez
“It’s a long, long, long story. There were certain powerhouses and players who were against us at Golden Boy. We’ve had many, many enemies, man. I’ve been fighting, uh, people left and right. It’s — promoting is a tough business. When they want to take you down, it’s, um, it’s a tough business to be in. But, look, we survived it. We had to sign the contracts and let him go. I really can’t get into details of what exactly happened, but it was a very unfortunate situation for us.”
On whether he would have made Canelo vs Dmitry Bivol
“No. Never. Never. Because it was a lose-lose situation. Nobody knew Bivol whatsoever. I would have promoted Bivol to have (come in with) a bigger name, because nobody knew who he was before he fought Canelo. He was irrelevant, he was nobody. We were actually going to face him against Zurdo Ramirez. Canelo has a promoter now that obviously doesn’t come from the boxing world, he doesn’t really know the fight game, and he got Canelo beat. It was the wrong style. Las Vegas had no buzz whatsoever. I was there, actually, sitting ringside, supporting Canelo.
“Canelo is the superstar of the game right now. Eddie Hearn didn’t do no justice to Canelo when he faced him against Bivol.”
On no longer having a relationship with Canelo
“I haven’t talked to him. I went to the Caleb Plant fight. I think I’ve been to three of his fights (since he left Golden Boy). I love the game, I love boxing, I love fights. I’ll support any fighter to the death. It’s what I do. I love this game, I have so much passion for it. Having to watch Canelo live, the biggest fighter in boxing today, was a big honor for me.”
On not being an Eddie Hearn fan
“No, I mean, look, it’s, he’s — he’s building, he’s doing a lot of fights that mean nothing. Especially here in the US. He might be a good promoter in the UK, and he’s building European fighters, but it means nothing here in the US. I know this is a business and he’s partners with DAZN, and obviously now I’m partners with DAZN. But let’s just stay in our own lane and do our jobs right, let me focus on the US market and build champions, and boxing will keep on thriving for many years to come.”
“He’s a character. That’s all it is. The business of boxing, to build superstars, to build champions, it takes a lot of strategy, it takes a lot of insight, knowing the fighters, knowing their styles, and that’s one thing that I’m an expert at. When I built Canelo Alvarez, when he crossed the border from Mexico at the tender age of 18 years old, and I promoted his first fight (in the US), we knew exactly what we had in our hands, and built him to be a monster. That’s exactly what I intend to do with Vergil Ortiz and Ryan Garcia, the next generation.
“Other promoters don’t know the secret of how to build a superstar. I’ve promoted Mayweather, I’ve promoted Pacquiao*, I’ve promoted all the big superstars in the past. There’s a formula that you need to have in order to build superstars.”
[* Editor’s Note: Golden Boy never really promoted Manny Pacquiao. He did sign a deal with Golden Boy in 2006, but never fought under it, instead returning his signing bonus and staying with Top Rank, who had built him and were the company where he spent all of his peak years as an attraction. Pacquiao did fight on cards co-promoted by Top Rank and Golden Boy.]
On how he makes sure Ryan Garcia doesn’t leave Golden Boy
“Contracts. (laughing) Bottom line! This sport is heartbreaking. Fighters tend to make a lot of money and when they lose or if one thing is wrong, then they blame the promoter. They blame the promoter for everything. So it shows your true colors, it shows exactly what the fight is all about. One thing about me that I learned, again, from Bob Arum is don’t take it personal, it’s a business.”
On his abandoned comeback attempt in 2021 and his bout with COVID
“It was actually bad. It was really, really bad. It was very unfortunate. I was actually in great shape, but I have to admit I was lying to myself. When I was sparring, I was getting hit a lot. I was being stubborn. I was in great shape, my reflexes — videos that I posted, they were legit, they were fast, I felt my reflexes were incredible. But when I was sparring, I was getting hit too much. Everything happens for a reason. I’m glad I didn’t fight, because obviously (Vitor Belfort) is a big guy and he knocked out Evander Holyfield. I’m glad that I got over it, I didn’t fight, and I can just sit back and relax and grow some grey hairs promoting fighters.”
On whether he still plans to fight again
“No, I’m done. I’m done. Like I said, everything happens for a reason and I’m actually glad I didn’t come back. My ego got a little bit of me as a fighter. I’ve always liked — being in the ring to me is my safe zone. Boxing, the ring is, like, it’s everything to me. Nobody can touch me in there. I feel safe. The fact that I wanted to get in the ring and train and feel that adrenaline, it kind of took over me mentally. And I believed myself, that I can really do this. That’s the nemesis of a fighter. When your mind tells you, ‘Yes, you can do it,’ but your body is just not responding. It’s a love-hate relationship I have with boxing. Everything happens for a reason, I got COVID really bad, I’m glad I survived it. And here we are. I’m not gonna come back any time soon, that’s for sure.”
On choosing to fight with Triller and not his own promotional company
“At the time, when they promoted Mike Tyson, it looked great. I actually bought the fight and it was great. It was a great production and I was pretty amped up about it. Having to work with somebody else, with Ryan Kavanaugh at Triller — it just looked awesome, it was a huge production and they painted a beautiful picture. The deal was amazing. Like I said, everything just happened for a reason. It didn’t take place, unfortunately. But I’m glad I didn’t fight this monster of a fighter (Belfort), because he’s a big guy, he knows what he’s doing, he’s talented. As old as we were, we still can throw punches. We saw it with Evander Holyfield, where he knocked him out. I think I dodged a bullet there.”
On the failure of Golden Boy MMA
“I did that one show. It was, uh, such a great experience. Obviously it’s not my sport that I know, that I’m knowledgeable about. It’s still the fight game, it’s still the same promotion, it’s still — you have fighters, you have the venues, you have the pay-per-views. The business model is all the same. We had the arena jam-packed. Pay-per-views didn’t do too well for certain reasons, certain cable operators weren’t really working with us. But I think it’s just because I received too much heat from Dana White, that’s literally the bottom line. Also being busy with Golden Boy Promotions; I decided, ‘Hey, I’m gonna stay in my own lane.’
“I did it because fighters came to me and said, ‘Why don’t you help us out here? We want to try something new here, we want to try to build something here with you.’ I tried it. It was a great experience, I actually really loved it. The atmosphere and the fans, it’s really engaging, it was a lot of fun.
“But I received a lot of heat for not really knowing the insights of MMA and everything that goes on, all the players and everything, the fighters. Dana criticized me and all that, and for a good reason. It’s for a good reason. There were some exchanges going back-and-forth with Dana, which I apologized to him 1000 percent.”
On possibly working with Dana White and UFC
“I think there’s still a lot of business to be done between me and Dana in the future. I know he was trying to cross over here to boxing. I don’t think it’s been successful or he’s really pushed it that much. But if he ever wants to talk and sit down, I mean, imagine merging our two powerhouses together and creating something together. It would be pretty unique.”
“I would love to work with him. I’m actually building a house in Las Vegas, and I’m gonna move there full-time to focus more on my business and other businesses I have as well. It would be a lot of fun and interesting to build something together. Look, boxing is a very fragmented sport. What the Fertitta brothers did and Dana did with the UFC is incredible. Buying the company many years ago, building it into a powerhouse, into a league, into what it is now is just so admirable. I’m extending an olive branch and I would love to sit down and talk and smooth things out. Let bygones be bygones and focus on business.
“I haven’t (reached out to him). I would love to sit down with him and just talk it over and see what we can come up with. Maybe there’s a formula that we can both work together and do something really special.”
On whether he still has hard feelings with Dana White
“No, no hard feelings. It is what it is. Everything — I said a couple of things that were not notice, he said a couple of things that were pretty below the belt, let’s just say. But no hard feelings whatsoever. It is what it is. We can move on as adults and figure out something if he wants to. I’m here, I’m all ears, I’m more than happy and willing to listen and create something very special. I’m a businessman. I love to build on something that, you know — a foundation that can be very, very special. Me and Dana coming together can be very special.”
On Ryan Garcia vs Gervonta Davis possibly doing one million PPV buys
“I think it does closer to 1.5 (million). Given the fact that, if this fight does get made, Showtime has their marketing machine, and been DAZN has been doing extremely well with Canelo. With Mayweather on Tank’s side and me on Ryan’s side, this promotion can be pretty special. I can already see us on two separate jets going all over the country promoting this fight. It’ll be massive.”
“The truth will come out. I’m not worried about it one bit. Anybody who knows me, anybody who over the period of my 49 years of existence — it’s all BS. The truth will come out, that’s the bottom line. I really can’t discuss it and talk about anything, but the truth will always, always prevail. I’m not worried about it whatsoever. The truth will always come out and prevail.”
On this weekend’s Jaime Munguia vs Jimmy Kelly fight
“We’ll have, like, 12,000 people there. He’s fighting actually — I don’t even know who the hell he is, who he’s fighting. Yeah, but that’s how — I was trying to make a Jaime Munguia vs (Jermall) Charlo fight, but the problem is Al Haymon, again, he blocks it. So I had to move on to the next contender. It’s this kid (Jimmy) Kelly, who really — I’m the biggest fight fan ever and I don’t know who he is. But it should be a fun fight. It’ll be on DAZN. Then we have Vergil Ortiz making his comeback. He’s already knocking on Errol Spence’s door, he’s the No. 1 contender. Exciting fights coming up for us at Golden Boy.”