Arum-De La Hoya Can Be a Great Reality Show
A few weeks ago Oscar De La Hoya said he’d call the father/daughter Sunday morning gabfest, but when Sunday arrived, De La Hoya didn’t answer the bell.
As a result, we put boxing promoter Bob Arum on Sunday, and he pounded De La Hoya, telling the 570 audience that De La Hoya “quit” in his title fight against Bernard Hopkins, and that De La Hoya is “not very bright,” and really is nothing more than a programmed puppet.
“I did you a favor,” De La Hoya joked Monday by telephone from his home in Puerto Rico. “No one will ever stiff you again and not show up for your radio show.”
We’re now in discussions with John Wooden and his daughter to appear on the father/daughter gabfest, and if successful, I sure hope we don’t have to call on Arum again.
ARUM HAS promoted all but two of De La Hoya’s fights, putting almost $200 million into the boxer’s corner, while doing nicely himself. But after the loss to Hopkins, the two went their separate ways -- with that gap widening daily.
"[Oscar] claims he got a liver shot and [couldn’t] move against Hopkins,” said Arum of the ninth-round knockout. “Well, it was certainly not a liver shot.
“I think what happened was he got hit with a good right hand on the chin ... [then] gets hit with a body shot, says, ‘Oops, I earned my $40 million, and that’s enough.’ ”
I asked Arum if he was suggesting De La Hoya took a dive?
“I associate a dive with a fighter who pre-arranged goes down in a fixed fight,” Arum said. “I don’t think he took a dive. Do I think he quit? Yeah, I think he quit. Could he have gotten up and fought? Yeah, I think he could have gotten up and fought. Would he have ever beaten Hopkins? No, he never would’ve beaten Hopkins. If he had gotten up and fought, would he have taken a beating, a bad beating? Yes, he would have.
“I think he felt the prudent thing to do was stay down, hit the canvas like he hadn’t hit Hopkins during the fight, and collect his $40 million.”
That would suggest De La Hoya was acting, I said, and Arum replied, “it was a very good acting job. You have to see the tape, it’s hilarious.”
I told De La Hoya I’d imagine most people would find his acting hilarious -- certainly based on his earlier attempts to make it in Hollywood -- and he laughed.
But then he fired back at Arum. “What does he know? Here you have a promoter who has never put a glove on for a fight -- I’ve been feeling punches for 28 years of my life, and he’s telling me I quit. Instead of worrying about me, he should be worrying about what’s happening to his company with the whole FBI situation.”
The gloves were off. The FBI raided Arum’s Top Rank offices in Las Vegas a year ago, and the investigation apparently continues.
“If I had been behind by a landslide and felt in my mind I couldn’t win, I would’ve probably stayed down and taken no more punishment,” De La Hoya said.
“But I was still in the fight and there were still four rounds to go.”
DE LA HOYA SAID recently he wants to clean up boxing after Arum and Don King are gone -- suggesting that won’t be long. I asked Arum if he was firing back out of anger or bitterness?
“No, no, you have to know Oscar as I know Oscar,” he said. “Oscar really is not a bright kid. Oscar doesn’t have very many original thoughts. What Oscar says is what people have been [telling] him, and then he parrots it and says it very well.”
He said De La Hoya’s business advisor, Richard Schaefer, will be the reason if De La Hoya is successful as a promoter. “Oscar is really Charlie McCarthy to Schaeffer’s Edgar Bergen,” Arum said.
Hard to believe these guys were once so close that De La Hoya gave Arum his Olympic gold medal as a birthday present.
“Oscar is an empty vessel,” said Arum, claiming De La Hoya gave him the medal because he was following instructions from his former advisor, Mike Hernandez, “a guy who had a lot of humanity about him.”
Arum said he’ll return the medal when De La Hoya retires from boxing. Arum said De La Hoya shouldn’t try to “bilk the public” again by fighting, and said no one would put up the kind of money De La Hoya is used to getting.
De La Hoya said, “We did a lot for each other, and it’s a shame it’s come to this when we should be sitting together at ringside,” but yes, he said, “there’s definitely a big-money fight still out there for me.”
I’m guessing Arum won’t be the promoter.
ARUM also said he’s on the verge of closing a deal for a July 9 Staples Center fight, calling it the “Million Dollar Lady,” which will match Lucia Rijker, “The Blue Bear” who injured Hilary Swank in the Oscar-winning movie, against Laila Ali, Muhammad Ali’s daughter. Maybe the winner can take on Butterbean.
RICK SMITH, Phil Mickelson’s swing instructor, told ESPN.com’s Bob Harig that Mickelson is going to take a few weeks off after being beaten by Tiger Woods. “He’s in disbelief right now,” Smith said, which is odd, because it’s not the first time he has choked when matched against Woods.
RICK NEUHEISEL is going to receive a $2.5-million cash payment from the NCAA as part of his $4.7-million wrongful termination victory in court, and just in time to get his bets in on this year’s NCAA basketball tournament.
TODAY’S LAST word comes in e-mail from Robert Terjenian:
“I’m trying to track down the Santa Anita GM to verify the report he’s replacing Fan Appreciation Day with a Tribute to Trainer Jeff Mullins. Each paid admission will receive a Collector’s Edition Mug with the inscription, ‘I am an Idiot,’ as well as a coupon redeemable at ‘In-N-Out’ restaurant for a free -- you guessed it -- milkshake.”
I had no idea horse racing still had fans.
T.J. Simers can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. To read previous columns by Simers, go to latimes.com/simers.