Oscar De La Hoya was one of the most famous boxers in the world the minute he turned pro a couple of months after winning a gold medal at the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona, Spain.
And for the better part of the next quarter century-plus, De La Hoya has been at the forefront of the sport he loves.
He’s proud of the success he’s had in helping boxing grow, but he told Yahoo Sports he believes strongly that the future is as bright as it’s ever been.
“This is what I love doing and I have for as long as I can remember, but the business hasn’t been this strong in a long time,” De La Hoya said. “You hear about these billion-dollar deals with [Endeavor CEO] Ari Emanuel and [UFC president] Dana White wanting to get into boxing, and it lets you know there is a lot of interest in this. There are billions of dollars out there that can and probably will be invested and put back into growing this sport.
“It drives me to know I’m at the helm of one of the biggest, if not the biggest, boxing companies in the world. I enjoy it every single day, but I have realized that because other people see the potential in this sport, you can’t take it for granted. You have to get out there and work at it and try to make it bigger every single day, or someone will go flying right past you.”
De La Hoya will hop on a plane in the next few days and fly to Guadalajara, Mexico, to plot the next step in Canelo Alvarez’s career. Alvarez is coming off an impressive victory over Daniel Jacobs in Las Vegas, and is primed for a third bout with Gennadiy Golovkin.
Alvarez and Golovkin both fight on DAZN, and given the money the streaming service has invested in them, likely wants another fight as soon as possible, because there will be few larger drivers of subscriptions than Alvarez-Golovkin III.
De La Hoya said that Alvarez has plenty of options beyond just another Golovkin fight, and what happens next will be what Alvarez is interested in most.
De La Hoya said he admires the methodical way Alvarez has gone about his career. Like Alvarez, De La Hoya was arguably the biggest star in boxing during his legendary career, but though he made it to the Hall of Fame, he concedes that his penchant for partying hurt him.
“If I had had Canelo’s discipline and commitment, oh, I would have been a 20-time world champion,” said De La Hoya, who won world titles in six weight classes. “Luckily for me, my work ethic in my opinion, was if not the best, one of the best anyone has ever had. I loved training. I loved going to the gym. I loved waking up early in the morning. I understood what hard work was. But I also understood what playing hard was, as well.
“I started right from the start with the fame and the money. For some strange reason, I knew how to balance it, to where I wasn’t getting myself in trouble in the ring. I wasn’t gassing out. I wasn’t losing fights and my playing didn’t derail my career. I somehow did enough to get by. But if I was like Canelo, I think the things I would have been able to do that I didn’t do would have been amazing.”
But with big things on the horizon for boxing, De La Hoya feels like he has a lot left to accomplish.
He thinks bigger and better things are ahead for the sport.
“You’re seeing all these different companies showing boxing and people getting involved in the business because they realized there is an untapped potential there,” he said. “It’s all about making the fights the people want to see and getting out there and selling it.
“With DAZN, we’re just trying to sell, sell, sell those subscriptions, and I think it’s working. When we tell people, ‘You can see Canelo Alvarez a couple of times a year for just a few bucks a month, as well as all these other great fighters,’ they get very excited. There are a lot of people out there who would be fans if we could reach them and get the message out. That’s what I am planning to do over these next few years. I love this sport, and I want to take it higher than it has ever been.”
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