Oscar De La Hoya on Evander, "I would love to see Holyfield retire!"
14.11.03 - Interview By Carlos Kalinchuk: With the clock ticking to the big showdown between Marco Antonio Barrera and Manny Pacquiao, I caught up with Oscar in San Antonio on a variety of topics. From his thoughts on Evander Holyfield, to one of his funniest moments in boxing, this is a good read. Enjoy.
Article posted on 14.11.2003
Eastside Boxing: You've been pretty business savvy in your career as opposed to other fighters who have left the sport and have had nothing really going for them years later. With your exploits in Boxing, singing and promoting, how do you view boxing today? Do you see it more as a business?
Oscar DelaHoya: At this point we do look at it like a business. At the same time it's a passion of course that I have and I love being in the ring but it's a business.
Eastside Boxing: It's different than when you're out of the Olympics right?
Oscar DelaHoya: Right.
Eastside Boxing: Back then it was just boxing.
Oscar DelaHoya: Now it's one section of my company so to speak. We do business. We have Golden Boy Promotions and my personal boxing career, but it's fun. It's fun. I love it. I really love the business side too. It's intriguing to me.
Eastside Boxing: Do you ever stop and think how unusual it is that now the name Oscar DelaHoya today is almost a corporate entity? It's your name and it's out there and there's things built around that name.
Oscar DelaHoya: Right. Right. Right. You know it's funny, I've gone and traveled all over the world and…it's funny because sometimes I'll go somewhere and people won't recognize me right? And I'll say the name "Oscar DelaHoya" and it's like "Yes, we know the name, the fighter right?"
Eastside Boxing: That's strange.
Oscar DelaHoya: Yeah it's weird. It's like the name has grown so big over the years and people recognize the name more than they would recognize me. If I go to Italy or Indonesia or something, they recognize the name. That was kind of the objective so we could have…and start businesses with the name. So we could use leverage and start doing something with it.
Eastside Boxing: It's probably pretty unusual because most people don't see themselves as a brand or…
Oscar DelaHoya: Exactly. There was a lot of strategy involved behind it and at the same time it just happened on it's own. It took a life of it's own.
Eastside Boxing: Have you been recognized yet as the singer as opposed to the boxer?
Oscar DelaHoya: Oh yes. Oh yes. Actually by older ladies and grandmothers who really don't follow boxing but they've heard my music and they saw me do some promotion for the cd and the say "Aren't you the singer?"
Eastside Boxing: That must have been weird!
Oscar DelaHoya: It was strange. It was strange.
Eastside Boxing: Can you give me an example of that happening and where it happened?
Oscar DelaHoya: This actually happened one time in…(thinking) California! Where I live, my hometown! This lady…I was talking to people and signing autographs, it was at the Supermarket, I actually do my own shopping…and I was at the Supermarket and people are coming up to me and I'm signing autographs and everybody is saying stuff like "Nice fight champ" and stuff like that and this lady comes up to me and she says, "Why are all these people saying good fight? By the way I love your CD the music was great." I was like oh, okay.
Eastside Boxing: That must have been some satisfaction in that.
Oscar DelaHoya: Yeah. It kind of was. That part of my life…I did it. It's part of my life and it's something that I could talk to my children about. I would tell them something like "Your father made a CD and it was successful." So it was a nice part of my life but obviously that's not what made me happy and that's not what really satisfied me. Boxing is…
Eastside Boxing: It's something you're going to be involved with a long time…
Oscar DelaHoya: Yeah. Yeah. Boxing is just in my blood. It's part of my life and that's the reason it's going to be so easy to retire when I'm ready because I'm still going to be in the mix of things. I'm still going to be involved with boxing. I'll still be involved with the sport.
Eastside Boxing: Yeah I've seen it where fighters get to that point where they can maybe see the end in sight and for them it's scary.
Oscar DelaHoya: I can imagine. You see what it is, is that obviously after every fight you have this flow of money coming in and fighters…some fighters…a good percentage of fighters live a good life. They make good purses, but when they know they're going to retire, or when it's coming up or coming soon, then you're scared. You're like, "What am I going to do? What's going to be my income? I've made so much money in boxing, how am I going to make money working a 9-5 job?" They say to themselves, "It's going to be impossible." And that's why a lot of fighters don't retire. They stick around.
Eastside Boxing: They're scared of that next chapter.
Oscar DelaHoya: Right, that next chapter in their life. I'm already set for the next chapter. If I want to retire, I can retire tomorrow but obviously I still want to fight a few more fights. This business we have with Golden Boy Promotions we started from the ground up. We've built it to one of the leaders in boxing.
Eastside Boxing: Is there anybody in particular that you would like to see retire?
Oscar DelaHoya: Um (thinking), I would love to see Evander Holyfield retire. It's kind of sad. It's kind of sad that he's still in the game and (thinking) I have no idea why he's actually still in the sport! He keeps on saying that I want to win the Heavyweight Crown again. He's 41 years old! Enough is enough!
Eastside Boxing: In fact one of his first fights was in Corpus Christi Texas. (Leija's Manager) Lester Bedford had brought him down here.
Oscar DelaHoya: Oh really.
Eastside Boxing: People like Max Kellerman have been pretty vocal about him getting out. Max said something recently like "He could turn into this generations Muhammed Ali." Do you see that as an accurate assessment?
Oscar DelaHoya: To say something like that about Holyfield (thinking)…it's difficult to agree with the comments that Max Kellerman said. Holyfield has been such a great fighter. He's a great person. He's got a good heart. I don't want to think of him being an example.
Eastside Boxing: I don't think anybody does…
Oscar DelaHoya: Yeah so it's (thinking)…I hope not! I hope not. I'm crossing my fingers that it's not like that.
Eastside Boxing: Winky Wright has been calling out anybody and everybody. With his performance this past weekend, do you see him as a viable opponent in the future? He actually went to war and put on a good performance. Most people know him for being an uneventful fighter that doesn't put people in the seats. Is there a possibility that you will fight him down the road?
Oscar DelaHoya: I don't know. To tell you the truth, I don't think so. Where I am thinking is Mosley. Where I am thinking is Hopkins. Where I am thinking is Mayorga. I am even eyeing Fernando Vargas for a re-match. I don't know. Honestly, no it cannot happen. It can't happen. And also I would want to say that Mayweather has been calling me out and this and that. And that's not going to happen! That's never going to happen! I can assure you that! Even if people are telling him "Oh are you going to fight Oscar someday?" It's never going to happen!
Eastside Boxing: It related more to the respect that you have for Floyd Sr. right?
Oscar DelaHoya: Yes. I think the respect that I've accumulated over the years with Mayweather, I wouldn't want to do it. I just couldn't. I could not face his son. It's just too much respect.
Eastside Boxing: You spoke about a rematch with Sugar Shane. You even mentioned San Antonio as a sight. What were some of the reasons for going out of Las Vegas?
Oscar DelaHoya: The reasons were to create big, big, major events. To fill up arenas of 50-60,000 people. These are my last fights obviously of my career. I want to make them exciting. I want to make them different. I want to make them appealing to the fight fans who are watching on TV or who's there live. I want to make it an event and having it at the Alamodome or having it at the Sun Bowl the way I've fought there…it's exciting! It's something that we're really considering.
Eastside Boxing: What are your predictions for this fight in particular? Barrera is a Champ, a stylist, an experienced fighter…how do you see that playing out because he has that ability to change styles?
Oscar DelaHoya: He can change styles. He's a fighter a boxer. He's playing it smart now. He's realizing that "Man, if I keep on getting into these wars" he's not going to last very long in the sport. He wants to be in boxing for 3-4 more years. He's kind of boxing a little more, which is good. I see it being a brawl. I really do. I don't think Barrera wants to get beaten by Pacquiao because Pacquiao is a fighter who's aggressive and Barrera doesn't want to have people say, "Pacquiao, he was more aggressive than you, he was stronger than you." He doesn't want that for himself. I think it's going to trigger something in his mind to go in there and try to knock him out!
Eastside Boxing: How easy was it to make this fight? You always see this problem in boxing when you see people that are so talented in the ring but the fight can't be made. You see it with Bernard Hopkins especially. Why was this fight so easy to make?
Oscar DelaHoya: I think it's because, the relationship that we have now with Marco Antonio Barrera, we told him "Look these are going to be the highlights of your career. These fights here with guys like Pacquiao and a rematch with Morales-you have to fight these guys! You have to fight big opponents to be big in the sport." And he realizes that. We made the fight easy. It was no problem. Pacquiao wanted the fight and he (Barrera) wanted the fight and we made it happen. Actually it was no problem. We negotiated. It was not that difficult and we made it.
Eastside Boxing: The relationship that you and Marco had before, from what I understood, you guys were friends and got along well. Did that transition from friendship to business go well all through out in being able to say "Now I'm your promoter" and working harmoniously with respect to your friendship?
Oscar DelaHoya: Barrera is a classy guy. He's a nice guy. He wants the best for his career and he realized that I'm going to bring that to the table. I'm going to be honest with him. I'm going to put all my cards on the table and say, "Look here, this is what you're making and at the end of the day, you're going to take this much money home." And he's not being cheated and that's what he really respects. He knows we're being honest with him. He knows that I went through that situation too. I'm a fighter so I've been through that. Not to the extent where he was at but in the beginning of my career, I had some difficulties with certain people. So I know what it's like to feel that way. When I approached him he understood that I was there to help him.
Eastside Boxing: I've been wanting to ask you this for a while but with all your experience, what is your funniest moment in the ring because I'm sure there's a lot of stories. The thing that you can look back on and say, "That was hilarious!"
Oscar DelaHoya: Oh man (thinking).
Eastside Boxing: Or out of the ring…
Oscar DelaHoya: Yeah, you caught me off guard right there. There's been some funny moments (laughing).
Eastside Boxing: You're thinking of which one you're going to tell me right? (laughs).
Oscar DelaHoya: Yeah (smiles). There's plenty (laughs). Actually I told one of my buddies last night this experience. It was actually in El Paso. I get to the Airport and I get out of the plane and there's like 10,000 people waiting for me. And so I'm signing autographs and there's like this fence there acting as a barricade (keeping the people at a distance). And so I'm signing autographs and taking pictures and people are going crazy and girls are screaming and all of a sudden, out of nowhere, these bras start flying everywhere.
Eastside Boxing: (Laughs).
Oscar DelaHoya: And I'm like whoa man! Okay this is pretty cool. Oh God…we start saying "hey that looks like a 36D oh and that looks like a C" and we're throwing them back
Eastside Boxing: (Big Laughs)
Oscar DelaHoya: and we're saying, "Hey, there's kids here!" And all of a sudden we see…I thought it was a parachute! We see like a (bra size) 40F just fly over!
Eastside Boxing: (Big Laughs)
Oscar DelaHoya: And everybody…we saw it in like slow motion like on TV
Eastside Boxing: Like the Billion Dollar man?
Oscar DelaHoya: (BIG LAUGHS)
Eastside Boxing: (I added sound effects)
Oscar DelaHoya: (BIG LAUGHS) We started cracking up!
Eastside Boxing: Like it was fan-man right.
Oscar DelaHoya: (BIG LAUGHS). The fan man…(MORE LAUGHS).
And everybody was like "What the hell was that?!" And we stood there for like 5 minutes and everybody was like "WOW, that's impressive, who's is that?!"
Eastside Boxing: Did you find the owner?
Oscar De la Hoya: Yeah and she was like "It's mine, it's mine!"
Eastside Boxing: (BIG LAUGHS)
Oscar DelaHoya: It was hilarious. We finally got a little stick and just threw it back (Laughs). It was funny. That was one of the funny times.
Eastside Boxing: How do you seem to know all the sizes?
Oscar DelaHoya: (BIG LAUGHS) No, we were just guessing. We were just having fun with it. It was nice.
Eastside Boxing: I appreciate it champ. Thanks a lot
Oscar DelaHoya: Thanks.
Contributing Writer & Photographer
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