On Thursday, Oscar De La Hoya, head of Golden Boy Promotions, released a lengthy open letter on his Facebook page detailing all the reasons why, in his words, "our sport might not ever recover" from the prospect of a Floyd Mayweather-Conor McGregor fight, which Showtime's Stephen Espinoza hopes will be sometime in "the early fall."
In related news, Oscar De La Hoya, head of Golden Boy Promotions, is promoting the Canelo Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin mega-fight in September.
This is my shocked face.
De La Hoya's argument isn't all that different from what everyone already knows going in: Mayweather is one of the more dominant boxers in history, McGregor hasn't fought a professional match in his life and the former is going to summarily whoop the latter. Accordingly, De La Hoya isn't at all wrong. This is a naked cash grab even by boxing standards, and one that can only live up to its billing for those spectators tuning in to see a car crash.
That's hardly news, and Oscar's take probably wouldn't be either had he not turned the self-righteousness up to 11. He did, though, and it goes a little something like this:
To my fellow #boxing fans:
I write in the hopes that together we can protect the sport of boxing.
"I, extremely rich man with a very large financial stake in this not going down at the same exact time, am just like you, fellow fight fans."
With each passing day, it looks more and more likely that the circus known as Floyd Mayweather Vs. Conor McGregor will be coming to town in the near future.
As undercard fights start to take form, athletic commissions give their blessings in exchange for millions of dollars and the fighters start counting even more cash, one group will eventually be left to make sure this farce doesn't occur.
We, the fans, who are the lifeblood of our sport.
"I, for one, have never used my own fights to extract maximum profit, especially not when I was 9-5 from 2000 until 2008 and drafting off my own long-lost earlier form. I most certainly never have promoted a fight that everyone knew was going to be an embarrassment, and absolutely not within the last month."
Boxing is starting to dig out of the hole that Floyd and Manny Pacquiao shoveled by waiting seven years to put on a fight that ended up being as dull as it was anti-climactic.
Almost like that time Oscar fought Floyd back in 2007.
2017 has started off as a banner year for boxing. Joshua vs. Klitschko; Thurman vs. Garcia; Golovkin vs. Jacobs; Canelo vs. Chavez. All four of these fights – and many more -- have brought the fight game back and reinvigorated interest from the ever-elusive casual fan.
But if you thought Mayweather/Pacquiao was a black eye for our sport – a matchup between two of the best pound-for-pound fighters that simply didn't deliver -- just wait until the best boxer of a generation dismantles someone who has never boxed competitively at any level – amateur or professional.
Our sport might not ever recover.
Boxing in 2017 exists within an exoskeleton of byzantine regulations, endless governing bodies, conflicting ranking systems, carny promoters, a heavyweight division mostly on life support, and massive risk of brain damage to its athletes. Something tells me it's going to survive a fight with an enormous pay-per-view buy rate.
Let's skip ahead.
Now, I know critics will say that I'm only writing this letter because my company is promoting what will be the culmination of an outstanding boxing year when Canelo Alvarez takes on Gennady "GGG" Golovkin in September, and I don't want anything to distract attention away from that fight.
Yes. Literally, that is the only reason you're writing this. Bonus points for the total lack of subtlety in informing the reading public that GOLDEN BOY PROMOTIONS HAS THE CANELO-GGG FIGHT, DID YOU KNOW THAT, DID YOU KNOW WHEN IT WAS, DID YOU KNOW HOW GOOD IT WILL BE?
But my interest is in the health of boxing as a whole. It always has been.
And if Floyd were to come out of retirement to take on someone like Keith "One–time" Thurman, Errol Spence or some other top welterweight, not only would I applaud the fight, I'd be the first one on line for a ticket.
That kind of fight is what the fans – and I am a fan first -- deserve.
"Which is why I, Oscar De La Hoya, noble businessman and promoter, have given myself—and all of you—something we deserve. All you have to do is watch my fight instead, in September. Pretty generous of me, right?"
Floyd's and Conor's motivation is clear. It's money. In fact, they don't even pretend it's not
This is literally everybody's motivation in professional sports.
But it's also a lack of consequences for when the fight ends up being the disaster that is predicted. After this fight, neither of them will need us anymore.
This is the status quo.
Floyd will go back to retirement -- presumably for good this time with another nine-figure paycheck
Again, happening in real time.
-- and Conor will go back to the UFC.
This is true, and also extremely inevitable.
It's a win-win for them. It's a lose-lose for us. We'll be $100 lighter and we will have squandered another opportunity to bring boxing back to its rightful place as the sport of kings.
No one is under any financial obligation to consume this product. You do not have to buy it. There is no compulsory redemption fee.
At this point, only we can shut the circus down by making it clear that we won't pay to see a joke of a fight and telling our casual-fan friends that they shouldn't either.
Annnnnd there it is. This was a laughable exercise to begin with, a billionaire trying to manipulate his reading audience with all the finesse of Bobby Valentine sneaking back into the dugout with costume glasses and a fake mustache. But the only thing more disingenuous than Oscar De La Hoya pretending to give a shit about the sanctity of his sport beyond his direct financial advancement is drumming up a false moral imperative for his customers to proliferate as though they're acolytes preaching some higher gospel.
As De La Hoya himself admits, Mayweather and McGregor are honest about exactly why they're doing this. It can only damage the sport to those willing to elevate the fight into something it's not, which would make them the only people alive dumber than those actually taking De La Hoya's message at face value.
Otherwise, this could be a fun spectacle and quite possibly a legitimate moment in organized fighting, and one that does not necessarily conflict with a consumer's ability to drop an equal amount of money to what should be a legitimately compelling fight between two of the best fighters alive. The only zero sum aspect of this game is which one outdraws the other, and the referendum it would issue about De La Hoya's promotional abilities if he can't out-earn a sideshow fight with the most compelling boxing match that's yet to happen. It would say other things, too, about the sport and its place in American society and media and public relations.
Probably the last thing it says something about, though, is the fans. It is not incumbent on them to carry water for a huckster who cannot kill his competition with clout alone, and whose September windfall might drop a notch from "titanic" to merely "seismic." So do not regard Oscar De La Hoya's message as anything more than blatant self-service, and do not do him the satisfaction of campaigning for his interests. Most of all, do not take him at his word when he says this: