De La Hoya should feel "comfortable" with his choice

By George Willis


De La Hoya should feel "comfortable" with his choice

Sometimes spiritual forces put things and events in place that we later realize were for our own good. I believe that’s what happened over the last several weeks as Oscar De La Hoya was trying to decide whether to keep Floyd Mayweather Sr. as his trainer.

The drama ended Tuesday with De La Hoya announcing Freddie Roach would work his corner for the May 5 mega-fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.  If you read my column on this subject a few weeks ago, you know I believe it was the right thing to do.

But this was no slam dunk for Oscar.  Deep down De La Hoya wanted to be loyal to Mayweather Sr. for all he has taught him over the past six years, and Mayweather Sr. wanted to be loyal to his son no matter how estranged the two might be.

It’s why De La Hoya initially offered Senior $500,000 to work the fight and another $500,000 if he won.  And it’s why Senior wanted an unheard of $2 million because “that’s my son.”

Both went through the motions of wanting to keep their union intact for the biggest fight of their careers, but in the end it wasn’t so much about money as it was about blood, family and a boxer making sure his trainer has his back. “My decision was based on me feeling comfortable and having a trainer that’s on the same page with me,” De La Hoya said.

Those doubts about feeling “comfortable” and questioning whether Senior would be “on the same page” became very real when Senior demanded $2 million.  It proved he didn’t see this as just another fight against just another opponent.  It proved that he was fully aware of who would be in the opposing corner and that it would take an inflated salary to do the unthinkable.  Subconsciously, it may have been a price tag Senior knew De La Hoya wouldn’t pay.

But the truth is money was the root issue. It was about questioning whether Senior could be fully committed to training somebody to beat up his son. He can say he would have been committed for $2 million, but who knows what will go through his mind when the bell rings on May 5.

“I want to feel as comfortable as possible in training camp,” De La Hoya said. “With the comments he made in the past, I didn’t feel he’d be as passionate as I’m going to feel training for May 5.  Going in that ring, I’m there to win. I didn’t sign this fight to be up against the best pound-for-pound fighter and not win. I’m there to ultimately win and get the knockout.”

Sure the Jerry Springer crowd wanted to see the Mayweather feud play out as part of the promotion: junior and uncle Roger trading barbs with Senior.  But this fight doesn’t need the extra hype, not with tickets selling out in three hours, a national press tour that begins at the Super Bowl and HBO doing a four-part reality series.

Mayweather-mania had the potential to give ammunition to those who despise the sport. “We don’t need any distraction or negativity,” said Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer. “We didn’t want to add fuel to the fire in a father and son dispute.”

Roach is a solid choice, a proven tactician, who has turned Manny Pacquiao into the sport’s next great superstar. Judging from his words Tuesday Roach wants to win just as badly as De La Hoya.  “You’re going to see the best Oscar De La Hoya of his life fighting Mayweather,” Roach said. “We’re going to do everything we can to win the fight.

There is no reason for Senior to feel slighted by this.  As I said, sometimes spiritual forces make things happen that are for our own good.  If he really wanted the gig, he would have accepted the $500K up front with another $500K if De La Hoya won.  Just about every other trainer on the planet would have accepted those terms.

“He really is a good guy,” De La Hoya said of Senior. “He talks with his poems and he brags about how he’s the best trainer in the world and he comes across in the public eye in a different way than he really is. Knowing him over the years, me as a person, I just didn’t feel comfortable (with him) training against his son.”

If Senior is smart, he’ll benefit from this.  He’ll be in demand for interviews from the print and electronic media to offer his viewpoint on the historic bout. Maybe he earns some decent cash that way.

And maybe just maybe this keeps the door open to reconciliation where father supports son on the biggest night of his career. “If he goes and trains his son, I would be happy for him,” De La Hoya said. “At least I did some good for the family.  You hate to see a father and son apart for so many years.”

I believe De La Hoya is speaking from the heart when he says this.  He didn’t always have the best relationship with his own father, and the recent birth of his own son has nurtured his own father-son bond.

In the end, this all worked out for the best.

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