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Column: Oscar De La Hoya strikes back at perception his fighters are sparring with him

Oscar De La Hoya, left, says everything is fine between him and Canelo Alvarez.
Oscar De La Hoya, left, says everything is fine between him and Canelo Alvarez.
(Getty Images)

The smile Oscar De La Hoya normally flashes whenever he talks about his fighters washes away the longer he talks about their presence on social media.

Life as a boxing promoter is never dull, but it has turned into daily soap opera for De La Hoya. Recently he has dealt with his most high-profile fighters using social media to make disparaging remarks about him or Golden Boy Promotions.

Last month Canelo Alvarez took to Twitter to say he was unaware of a deal Golden Boy made with the IBF that cost him one of his 160-pound belts.

“I’m very upset and ashamed with my fans, to be unfairly stripped of my belt by the IBF, but specially when I did not have the knowledge of the agreement that GBP match maker had signed,” Alvarez tweeted.

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De La Hoya shook his head when asked about the tweet and said it was a result of bad information Alvarez received from people outside of Golden Boy.

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“With social media you tend to react in a certain way and you can’t retract it obviously,” De La Hoya said. “There’s a lot of voices in his ear. Being Canelo’s promoter, I have a huge target on my back. I know that. People were trying to sabotage our dealings and our relationship but there were no surprises. We’re still Golden Boy and at the end of the day we get what we want.”

There has been talk in boxing circles for months about whether the relationship between De La Hoya and Alvarez is fractured, but Alvarez’s tweet was the first public sign of discord. De La Hoya, however, said the two spoke last week and are on the same page after finalizing his next fight on Nov. 2 against Sergey Kovalev. The fight will be shown on DAZN, the digital streaming platform that signed Alvarez to a record 10-fight, $365-million deal last year.

“I’m glad we got the fight done and I’m glad we have a long-lasting relationship that we will fulfill,” De La Hoya said. “We’re under contract for his next 10 fights, so I’m glad that we got him what he wanted. We had to put up with a lot of B.S. from other promoters who were making it impossible to make a fight. That’s what happens when you’re the biggest athlete in the sport and making the most money; you have a target on your back and as a promoter you get the backlash. Everybody wants to sabotage our relationship but everything is fine.”

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Canelo will be moving up two weight divisions in the hope of claiming Kovalev’s WBO light heavyweight title before setting his sights on a third fight against Gennady Golovkin.

Canelo Alvarez, left, promoter Oscar De La Hoya, center, and Gennady Golovkin pose during a news conference in February 2018.
Canelo Alvarez, left, promoter Oscar De La Hoya, center, and Gennady Golovkin pose during a news conference in February 2018.
(Getty Images)

“You will absolutely see Canelo and GGG fight next year,” De La Hoya said. “It could be in May or September, but that fight will happen. But Canelo’s fight against Kovalev is huge. I think it’s bigger than a fight against GGG. It’s a mega-fight. Kovalev has a real shot to knock him out and beat him and people know that.”

Alvarez isn’t the only Golden Boy fighter who has taken his issues with De La Hoya and the promotion public on social media. Ryan Garcia, a 21-year-old lightweight prospect from Victorville with an undefeated record (18-0, 15 KOs) almost as impressive as his social media following (3.4 million followers on Instagram), was supposed to fight Avery Sparrow last Saturday in Carson. The fight was scrapped when Sparrow was arrested before the weigh-in. Sparrow had a warrant for his arrest stemming from a domestic dispute in which he allegedly brandished a gun after a woman threw his clothes out of a window.

Golden Boy’s plan to have Garcia instead fight Romero Duno, another of the promotion’s up-and-coming fighters, never materialized, and Garcia blasted them on Instagram for their handling of the situation. Garcia not only took exception to the money offered, but also to Golden Boy claiming his camp said Duno was “too tough.”

“My promoter acted in a very unprofessional manner (pattern at this point) saying things that were false about me. I’m a fighter and not afraid to fight anyone!!! My team tried tirelessly to negotiate a fair purse amount to save the show but my promoter has shown little interest in my career,” he posted.

De La Hoya said he spoke to Garcia on Monday and the two are on the same page.

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“Ryan has a lot of voices in his ear right now,” De La Hoya said. “That’s fine. I’ve been through it myself but it’s unfortunate because the miscommunication isn’t between us, it’s between his people. We’re going to have an emergency meeting to get everything resolved and we’re going to move on. We’re fine.”

Alvarez’s trainer Eddy Reynoso is also Garcia’s trainer, and Alvarez has retweeted many of the shots Garcia has taken at Golden Boy.

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“That’s fine,” De La Hoya said. “I think it’s great that he’s supporting him. Canelo is mentoring Ryan just the way I mentored Canelo, and maybe one day Ryan can mentor the next guy. But he’s not a world champion.

“Is he my best young fighter? No. Maybe next to Vergil Ortiz. Vergil Ortiz is the real deal. Ryan is in a very unique situation because of his social media following. The fact that he has so many followers is great, but it hasn’t transcended over to boxing. It just hasn’t. That’s the bottom line.

“So how do we do that? He has to win a world title. And who knows how to get him there? I do. Don’t listen to all these voices in your ear telling you, ‘Hey, you have 3 million followers, you’re supposed to be getting paid this much.’ Don’t listen to them. Just trust the process and you will get there.”

Ryan Garcia celebrates with Oscar De La Hoya after his victory over Jose Lopez on March 30.
Ryan Garcia celebrates with Oscar De La Hoya after his victory over Jose Lopez on March 30.
(Getty Images)

De La Hoya spoke as he watched the Rams play the New Orleans Saints from the new Casa Mexico Sky Deck at the Coliseum. De La Hoya is a partner with the tequila company and says he still drinks, but not as often and as much as he did when he was younger. De La Hoya was dropped by another tequila company after he checked himself into rehab in 2011 and 2013.

“I drink responsibly,” De La Hoya said. “I promote products I believe in. It just so happens to taste good, but it’s a business and I treat it like a business. I live a whole different lifestyle now. My lifestyle now is totally different than what it was then. I’m focused on growing businesses and not ruin them.”

De La Hoya knows competing promoters have used his troubled past and current issues with his fighters in trying to knock him from his perch.

“I hear what people are saying and it only motivates me,” De La Hoya said. “It only makes me stronger. Why are they coming after me? Because we’re on top and they want to get where we are, but they can’t. It’s impossible. We know what we’re doing.

“All these people that want to take over have never laced up a glove. They don’t know what it’s like to go in there and fight. They don’t have that fighter in them that I have. They will never beat me.”


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