Oscar De La Hoya tries to clear the air, but confusion and doubt still rule the day

Kevin Iole
Oscar De La Hoya tries to clear the air, but confusion and doubt still rule the day
Oscar De La Hoya tries to clear the air, but confusion and doubt still rule the day

LAS VEGAS -- With the future of his company seemingly hanging in the balance, Oscar De La Hoya held a 25-minutes news conference in a crowded ball room at the MGM Grand in an attempt to assert control of Golden Boy Promotions.

Instead of asserting control, he came off as a man still in search of love, acceptance and understanding.

De La Hoya did not substantatively address any of the issues between himself and Richard Schaefer, the CEO of Golden Boy, that have placed their future and with it, the future of the company they built into a powerhouse, at risk.

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His publicists hoped the news conference would be an opportunity for De La Hoya in his first wide-scale media appearance since getting out of rehab to make amends and to assert his control over the company.

Schaefer has been very public about the problems between De La Hoya and himself, and has said repeatedly during the days before Saturday's bout between Floyd Mayweather and Marcos Maidana that a decision will be made soon on his future with Golden Boy.

De La Hoya and Schaefer haven't been speaking and De La Hoya admitted Saturday that he has yet to discuss his problems with Schaefer. Schaefer conceded that, as the majority shareholder and president of Golden Boy, De La Hoya has the ability to fire him.

The former world champion, once boxing's biggest draw, said it was not his intention to fire Schaefer.

"I can sit down with Richard and talk to him and say, 'Hey, what's the problem? What's the deal here?' " De La Hoya said. " 'Can we work something out? What's going on?' Let's lay out all the cards on the table. Why not? Is that going to happen? I would like [it] to. Absolutely. Absolutely."

The fact that the conversation hasn't occurred at this stage, with the talk of a split so prominent in the media and with Schaefer being so outspoken during the week says more than any of the words that De La Hoya spoke.

De La Hoya has always been a easy person to like, but he's become less vital to the company in the last several years as he has battled drug and alcohol addicition problems. He was in rehab in 2011 and last year and hasn't been involved much with the day-to-day operation of the company.

He admitted Saturday that he was shocked to learn, as was first reported in March by Yahoo Sports, that Schaefer has regularly used fighters signed to Al Haymon advisory or managerial contracts that were not also signed to Golden Boy promotional deals.

It was difficult not to feel sorry for him on Saturday listening to him speak. He talked openly about his issues and said he met with rival promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank Friday in Beverly Hills, Calif. Arum promoted De La Hoya for most of the fighter's highly successful ring career, though they have become bitter enemies recently.

Schaefer has vowed never to do business with Arum again and has been irritated by De La Hoya's outreach to Arum.

"It doesn't make sense to me," Schaefer told Yahoo Sports earlier in the week. "If Oscar wants to meet with Arum and have some kind of reconciliation on a [personal] level, that's up to him. Fine. But Golden Boy is not doing fights with Arum. I'm not working with Arum again as long as I'm the CEO of Golden Boy."

On Saturday, Schaefer declined to address De La Hoya's words.

"I'm not going to hold a press conference and talk about this stuff," Schaefer told Yahoo Sports at ringside on Saturday, about 40 minutes after De La Hoya finished speaking. "I said what I had to say and I stand by those statements. Whatever the future holds, hopefully this can be resolved in the next several weeks."

De La Hoya said his visit to Arum was not a business trip, but said if it leads to the companies doing business together again, it would be for the best and he'd like that.

He said he needs to look out for himself and his company, which bears his nickname. He won the 1992 Olympic lightweight gold medal in Barcelona and was immediately dubbed "The Golden Boy."

He grew into boxing's biggest star, and with his help, the promotional company moved alongside Top Rank as the two most dominant in the business.

How, Yahoo Sports asked him, could Schaefer rely on him to perform his role in the company business given his addictive issues of the last several years. His answer was telling.

"Listen: Everybody has their troubles," De La Hoya said. "Everybody in this room has had troubles and issues and things they've had to deal with. Well, I'm dealing with them. I'm not running away from them any more. The easy part for me [in the past] was running away. But I'm not running away any more. I'm grabbing the bull by the horns.

"What matters to me most right now, obviously, is my family and this company. Boxing. That's what matters to me most behind my family. The fans. They want to see great fights. This is important to me. I had a little derailment. A big one. I did. I don't want to stay down. I'm tired of staying down. I'm a fighter, and I'm going to fight. It's not a comeback. It's not a comeback."

But it wasn't a solution, either. He didn't have a date that he plans to meet with Schaefer, and rather said he would like to hug him at ringside.

He was smiling and appeared several pounds over his fighting weight, but he mostly looked good. But it's clear the fight to overcome his addicition is taking most of his time and psychic energy.

Whether he has enough fight remaining to save his company is still to be seen.

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