Oscar De La Hoya said the loss of his company’s chief executive won’t derail plans to keep his Los Angeles-based Golden Boy Promotions functioning as a “well-oiled machine.”
“I love the fact that I took the bull by the horns,” De La Hoya said Thursday at the Los Angeles Biltmore Hotel, where the 1992 Olympic gold medalist and multiple former world champion hosted a news conference for a Saturday fight card at StubHub Center in Carson.
The card, televised by Showtime, is headlined by a welterweight bout between former title contender Robert Guerrero (31-2-1, 18 knockouts) and Japan’s Yoshihiro Kamegai (24-1-1, 21 KOs), and also includes a featherweight title bout between Gary Russell Jr. (24-0) and two-time former Olympic gold-medalist Vasyl Lomachenko (1-1) of the Ukraine.
A super-welterweight fight between Devon Alexander (25-2) and Jesus Soto-Karass (28-9-3) will also be televised.
The bouts mark Golden Boy’s first major card since former chief executive Richard Schaefer left the company following a rift with De La Hoya to explore other interests -- amid speculation that Schaefer could be angling to return to the sport as head of a different promotional company.
That company could well unite Schaefer with his friend and active manager Al Haymon, who represents a herd of star fighters, including Floyd Mayweather Jr., Danny Garcia, Leo Santa Cruz, Marcos Maidana and Guerrero and Russell.
“The card is loaded with some great, entertaining events, the event is selling well,” De La Hoya said. “We are moving forward 100 percent. ... Let’s continue doing what we do best.”
The intrigue is not in the the present, however, but how the future will play out as it becomes established which fighters are tied to Golden Boy promotional contracts, and which are bound only to Haymon.
De La Hoya, who’s pronounced himself healthy and recovered following an alcohol rehab stint last September, said “we know that,” adding he’s dedicated now to running his business the way he’s always longed to. He’s been in the office every day of the work week, he said.
There are many questions to work through.
Will Golden Boy continue to promote Haymon fighters, or force them into promotional contracts? What fighters – Golden Boy’s or Haymon’s -- will fill future Showtime dates?
Mayweather, for instance, has explored getting a promotional license in Nevada in advance of a scheduled September date, but that effort could be hamstung by his criminal past.
De La Hoya, for now, is maintaining a portrait of optimism. Many boxing insiders feel he’s in a better position than Schaefer in a possible legal battle, but he may ultimately suffer a subtraction of Haymon-managed talent.
“There’s no absence, we feel no dent in our armor whatsoever ... we’re continuing to do the best fights possible,” De La Hoya said. “ I’m excited, optimistic about moving forward and doing this for the fans, giving them the best fights possible.
“The sleeping giant has awakened. Boxing is what I love, what I breathe. This is my world, what I love doing. I feel the same desire, dedication, discipline I needed in training for the Olympics. I’m here. I’m here to stay.”
One of De La Hoya’s pushes is to do business with fellow promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank, whom Schaefer was defiant in no longer promoting fights with.
Golden Boy narrowly won a purse bid against Top Rank to promote the bout between Russell (Golden Boy) and Lomachenko (Top Rank).
“Gives me an opportunity to display my skills against someone who is worthy,” Russell said of the title fight. “You always need that opposite, the guy everyone wants to see you against. The unmovable object against the unstoppable force.”
Asked how he plans to beat Lomachenko, who was beaten by decision by an overweight Orlando Salido in his most recent bout, Russell said, “Easy.”
Although this is a forced attachment, with the World Boxing Organization declaring Lomachenko the mandatory challenger to top-ranked contender Russell for the vacant belt, De La Hoya said, “It’s obviously a step in the right direction. This is a Golden Boy event, but it’s nice to see ... the Top Rank crew.”
The companies haven’t co-promoted a major bout since Manny Pacquiao-Ricky Hatton in 2009, but could potentially stage a slew of significant bouts that would include stars such as Pacquiao, Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Miguel Cotto.
How many of those stars Golden Boy has access to down the road is the great unknown.