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Oscar De La Hoya: Golden in Armani
By Martin Wade (June 3, 2004) 
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Although multi division world champion Oscar De La Hoya has mapped out the “2 fights and out” strategy before I hope this time he’s serious. Not because I believe he’s overrated (like some) and not because I think it’s time for some new blood in the sport. I hope he hangs it up after his September clash with Bernard Hopkins because it would be good for boxing. It’ no secret that Oscars carried the sport (financially) for the better part of a decade, and I am ready to see him duplicate the feat from beyond the ropes. When Oscar decided to diversify and establish boxing based business interests it was a decisive victory for a sport sorely in need of mainstream acceptability. Let’s face it; Oscar and Sugar Ray are two of the few tickets that boxing have into the mainstream dance. Hopefully they can get us in the dance and keep us in the dance.

Golden Boy Promotions Incorporated

Since establishing Golden Boy Promotions in 2002 the fledgling company has established itself as a provider of consistently entertaining boxing cards. Oscar is young enough and influential enough to easily consign himself as the heir apparent to the “big two” of Bob Arum and Don King. King and Arum have long been the “major league” of boxing promotions, but both are in there 70’s and neither enjoys the open door policy that Oscar has in mainstream corporate America. By capitalizing on his longstanding lucrative relationship with HBO Oscar already produces a hit boxing series with “Boxeo De Oro”. The successful medium is a springboard to exposure for the boxers on the Golden Boy roster of talent.

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The Golden Boy roster of talent is a wonderful mix of prospects, contenders, and known entities such as Jesse James Leija and Marco Antonio Barrera. Junior welterweight Kelson Pinto will be challenging Ricky Hatton on June 12th; an upset will put the tough Brazilian on the map in the glamour division of the moment. The talented ‘prospects” under the Golden Boy banner are represented by lightweight Mighty Mike Achondo and IBF Super Bantamweight Champion Israel Vasquez. In a savvy move that represents a commitment to diversity Oscar also signed dangerous Nigerian middleweight Kingsley Ikeke. With Oscar in his corner the towering NABF champ now presents an out of ring threat to Jermain Taylor equal to his in ring menace. As this crop of talent develops, combined with an impressive victory by Barrera against Paulie Ayala on June 19th, the demand for De La Hoya to take his place, as boxings premier “player” will be more imperative.

June 5th will also represent a coming out party for business man De La Hoya when lightweight contender Juan “Hispanic Causing Panic” Lazcano will step up to challenge Jose Luis Castillo for the WBC strap. Juan is the ideal Golden Boy fighter possessing a crossover appeal, crowd-pleasing style and a great nickname. Juan exhibited early
De La Hoya like career planning when he opted for more seasoning in the face of a lightweight showdown with then kingpin Floyd Mayweather, JR. The choice put him in a position to fight in a showcase bout that could endear him to Oscar’s huge pay per view fan base.

The Next Great Reality Show?

As of this writing it appears that the NBC team of Sugar Ray Leonard and Sly Stallone are winning the “hype and buzz,” race with “The Contender”. This has more to do with the fact that the Golden Boy is still and active warrior with a full-blown German middleweight to consider this Saturday night. If all goes well Oscar will then undertake what I hope to be his last fight in September with Bernard Hopkins. De La Hoya’s “next great champ” reality series may be lagging behind, but this is a concept that may get more mileage on the Fox Network. Fox has long positioned itself as the “HBO of basic cable”, the breeding ground for reality TV and a network of choice to “Generation X” viewers. Fox’s reputation for providing more edge driven content may find Oscar the winner in the “reality sweepstakes”. I for one will watch both series, I believe that Sly, Sugar and Goldie have the unique opportunity to head a vanguard responsible for the resurgence of the extinct “celebrity boxer”.

It would only be poetic if Oscar’s parting gift would be to give boxers an opportunity to ascend to similar heights, returning the sweet science to the national conscience where it belongs. In order to fully realize the potential of boxings last “walking corporation” we most hope that he loses his desire for battle. We must hope that in the coming year Bernard Hopkins convinces the Midas one that it is in the boardrooms and golf courses that he can do the most good. Hopefully Oscar approaches the challenge of achieving out of the ring with the same zeal as he did in his Hall of Fame career. We as boxing fans should consider ourselves blessed if De La Hoya can maintain his ability to be as Golden in Armani as he was in trunks.

Until the Next “Jones”
The Boxing Junkie.

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