Golden Boy turns the page
Last week at the Golden Boy Promotions office on Wilshire Blvd in Los Angeles, a press conference was held to formally announce IBF bantamweight titlist Randy Caballero’s first defense. For this company and its founder, Oscar De La Hoya, it was symbolic of their present – and future.
While the recent settlement with Al Haymon and former CEO Richard Schaefer produced a mass exodus of blue-chip talent, Golden Boy and the “Golden Boy” are still very much in business even without some of the bigger names who once dotted their bout sheets.
In this dissolution from their former CEO and house adviser, they were left with but a few fighters (like Leo Santa Cruz and Lucas Matthysse) and a hefty check from Haymon for their troubles. However, they were really given a fresh start as they turn the page with De La Hoya fully in charge of his company.
“Obviously a peace of mind but now we can do what we do best – that is put on action fights, no one-sided fights,” De La Hoya told UCNLive.com. “We can do what we do best and that’s build champions. There’s nobody better than my matchmakers, myself. Golden Boy Promotions, we know how to build champions; we know how to build future champions. So it’s going to be exciting; it’s going to be fun.”
For years, Oscar was an absentee owner, who was lost in his own addiction and vices as his company might have been very well been ransacked in the process. De La Hoya might have woken up just in time.
“Oh absolutely, absolutely. Look, things happen for a reason and everything that’s happened to me in my life has happened for a good reason and I’m glad that I woke up and I’m glad they woke up the sleeping giant because now it’s ‘Game on.’ I’m going to do what I do best and that’s look out for the sport that I dearly love,” he said with enthusiasm. You want to believe him. For too long, his company (regardless of who was running it) was part of the problem as it engaged in a “Cold War” with Top Rank Promotions and other petty conflicts that weren’t in the best interest of the sport.
During his recent renaissance, De La Hoya has rebuilt the bridge with Top Rank’s Bob Arum, both professionally and personally, re-established his ties with HBO and promised to make the best fights possible. But there are significant hurdles Golden Boy must overcome after losing the services of Adrien Broner, Danny Garcia, Lamont Peterson, Keith Thurman, Robert Guerrero and newly-minted heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder, among many others. A promotional company is only as good as its assets and, any way you cut it, Golden Boy lost a good deal of talent.
The last nine months were turbulent for Golden Boy as they untangled this mess. While they broke ties with Schaefer, they were still saddled with doing promotions involving Haymon’s boxers. When De La Hoya is asked what this period of time has been like, he responded. “It didn’t handcuff us at all. Look, in the meantime, we were signing our own fighters. We’re signing young fighters, re-signing Lucas Matthysse and we’ve signed close to 20 to 25 young fighters who we’re going to be showcasing real soon. It did have us handcuffed, so to speak, for a little while but now we can get to work. We can show the fans what Golden Boy is all about.”
The edict from De La Hoya is clear: No more Danny Garcia-Rod Salka mismatches. Let’s make real fights.
Eric Gomez, his boyhood friend and a GBP matchmaker, states, “It’s one of the things Oscar really prides himself on: making fights. Look, he did it throughout his career. He fought the best; he’s always believed in good fights. He never ducked anybody. It’s what he’s all about; it’s the person he is. It’s what defines him and what got him to the Hall of Fame. He didn’t win all his fights but he fought the best. I don’t think anybody can ever take that away from him.
“So it’s something that when we’re making matches, he’s always been on me, ‘Hey, make good matches. Match these guys tough; get these guys in there. Especially the guys with the big amateur background. You can move them a little faster.'”
Proof of the new direction of Golden Boy is the announcement that it’s reviving its “Fight Night Club” series. It was a program that wasn’t necessarily a money maker for the company but aimed at developing local talent.
“Absolutely, we must go back to the roots of Golden Boy,”said De La Hoya, excitedly. “Golden Boy Promotions is all about building young champions, giving them the opportunity but at the same time making sure that we put on the best fights, best action fights for the fans and ‘Fight Night’ is a perfect example of that.”
As you talk to the staff at GBP, there is a new found energy – perhaps relief – after a turbulent 2014.
“I’m as passionate as ever; the whole group is and we really enjoy working for Oscar, making him happy and we believe in his vision, where the company should be and where it’s headed. We’re passionate about what we do,” said Gomez, who has been with the company since its inception.
Golden Boy is still a major player in this business but it has been forced to adjust, retool, revamp and reboot. So just what exactly is the future of this company?
“Better than ever,” said De La Hoya, without hesitation. “Like I said, we’ve signed over 25 fighters to Golden Boy Promotions. It’s just a matter of just building champions one fighter at a time. That’s what we do best and the fact that we have the biggest star for years to come in Canelo Alvarez, we have [Lucas] Matthysse, fighters like Jorge Linares, fighters like David Lemieux, who is a sensation in Canada and just made a huge splash here in the U.S. in terms of generating big ratings for HBO and a potential showdown with ‘Triple G’ [Gennady Golovkin].
“So it’s a matter of doing what we do best and build fighters. The future for boxing, for fighting, is brighter than ever because now Golden Boy Promotions is going to get to work.”
Sure, but you have to wonder, Oscar might now be fully engaged but will he eventually get bored with the day-to-day grind of showing up to the office and putting in an honest day’s work? Gomez insists, “We’re in it for the long haul and this is Oscar’s life. Look, again, he was very successful in his career when he was a fighter. He doesn’t have to do this. He has more than enough money to just relax, retire, do whatever he wants. He’s doing this because he really believes in it. He loves it; he wants to give back. He wants to be involved in boxing.
“It’s his being; it’s in his fiber. It’s who he is.”
Here’s the latest episode of “The Next Round” with Gabe Montoya and Yours Truly
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