Oscar De La Hoya is far removed from his days as an amateur boxer, but he still has fond memories of his days as a 19-year-old fighting for the U.S. at the Barcelona Olympics.
The gold medal winner is looking forward to this summer’s Rio Olympics but he is far from happy with the recent proposal to open the competition up to professionals as well (a move the Amateur International Boxing Association is set to vote on in June).
“Coming from an ex-Olympian, you are taking away that kids dream that had that aspiration of being an Olympic gold medalist,” says De La Hoya, who went on from Barcelona to win world titles in six weight classes during a 16-year pro career. “Now we are just going to throw a Manny Pacquiao or a Floyd Mayweather in there to make an Olympic team and bring back gold.”
De La Hoya acknowledges the new ruling could improve the U.S. medal count, but he believes it damages the greater spirit of the Games.
“I mean great, our country will come back with more gold medals … your just taking those dreams away from those kids, and that’s where I have an issue.”
The boxer-turned-promoter has concerns about the removal of protective headgear, which was recently shown to increase the instances of concussion despite its intent to prevent head injuries. The removal, along with the introduction of pro-style 10 point must scoring, will be a double edged sword at the 2016 Games.
“It will make for more exciting boxing that’s for sure. No headgear, you’re seeing a lot more knockouts. But that’s where it can get tricky because if the fighter gets cut, which he is vulnerable to, then how can he continue the next day. That’s a big problem.”
Before the Golden Boy Promotion chief heads down to Rio to check out the Olympic action and perhaps step into the announcer’s booth, he is first focused on Canelo Alvarez’s upcoming bout with Amir Khan on Saturday.
De La Hoya knows the danger that Khan’s speed can pose to a larger fighter like Alzarez, and compared the bout to his final fight, when Pacquiao surprised many by handing him a loss.
“I would tell Canelo, and the whole world, do not overlook a fighter who is quick like Amir Khan,” says De La Hoya. “A fighter who is the underdog. Because that underdog has nothing to lose and that underdog is training just as hard as you, if not even harder, because he has everything to win.
“When I fought Manny Pacquiao, the world thought that I was going to just steamroll right through him. But guess what? He retired me.”
De La Hoya also warned that Alvarez would be wise not to look past Khan to the fight with Gennady Golovkin that many hope will be the rising Mexican star's next bout. The promoter in the retired star began to shine through when discussing the résumé of the Kazakh knockout artist.
“It certainly is time for Golovkin to fight somebody who fights back. When you take a look at Canelo’s career at 25 years old he has already fought Mayweather and Lara and Trout …When you look at Golovkin’s career he has fought one, maybe two fighters that have been champions or ex-world champions.”
With the Golovkin fight looming overhead, De La Hoya and his Golden Boy Promotions are hoping Alvarez can take care of the quick but fragile Khan on Saturday night, so that they can spend Sunday negotiating to put together what would surely be the most anticipated fight of 2016.