Oscar De La Hoya started Golden Boy Promotions in 2002. He was the main attraction in the early years, and was involved with two mega-promotions: a split decision loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. in May 2007, and a career-ending loss to Manny Pacquiao in December 2008 when Oscar couldn’t answer the bell for the ninth round.
On Saturday night, Golden Boy had its biggest fight since Oscar retired, with Gennady Golovkin facing Canelo Alvarez. The fact that the Conor McGregor-Mayweather novelty match was held three weeks earlier and did terrific business was expected to have a negative impact on the number of Golovkin-Alvarez buys for pay-per-view.
De La Hoya complained about this last month, and he was derided by many in boxing circles. That’s not new, because Oscar has had plenty of critics — even if he did much to carry the sport in the 16 years from his gold medal in Barcelona in the summer of 1992, through the Pacquiao fight.
Jay Weiner and I were assigned the Barcelona Olympics for the Star Tribune, and we did a fair number of articles leading up to those grand, hectic three weeks in Spain.
I arranged to spend a couple of days around the De La Hoya family in East L.A. in late May. Adrian Pasten, a cousin, was handling Oscar’s PR. There wasn’t yet a media horde, since De La Hoya still had to defeat Patrice Brooks in the box-off to make the U.S. Olympic team.
Oscar’s father, Joel De La Hoya Sr., turned out to be a quiet, gentle man. And Oscar then was easy to root for, dedicating as he was this pursuit of Olympic gold to the memory of his beloved mother, Cecilia, who died in 1990.
We were at the Brooklyn Gym, a converted auto-repair garage, one day. Then, the next day, Adrian said: “Follow us to Resurrection Gym. Oscar’s going to spar.’’
Yes, and to spar with Shane Mosley, who had been upset in the Olympic trials. Watching Oscar and Sugar Shane box five rounds in an old church, as young men with great careers in front of them …
Yeah, that was memorable.
PATRICK'S PLUS THREE
Notes on Barcelona, boxing and De La Hoya:
• Oscar came to prominence at age 17, when he beat another American — Ivan Robinson — for the 125-pound gold at the Goodwill Games in Seattle.
• De La Hoya won the 132-pound gold in Barcelona by defeating Germany’s Marco Rudolph. A tougher fight was an 11-10 win over Korea’s Hong Sung-Sik in the semis.
• Eric Griffin was upset in a protested match and failed to medal at 106. Chris Byrd (silver) and Tim Austin (bronze) joined Oscar as U.S. medalists.
Read Patrick Reusse’s blog at startribune.com/patrick. E-mail him at email@example.com.