The stakes are such, and Oscar De La Hoya is such a professional, that in all likelihood, the Golden Boy could train himself for his May 5 showdown with pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr.
But, Oscar announced on a Tuesday conference call, he will not be training himself, nor will he have Floyd Mayweather Sr. as his chief second on May 5. Instead, Oscar has tabbed Freddie Roach, the Massachusetts-born former pro boxer to head up his training and work his corner for the sport’s grandest megapromotion since Lewis met Tyson in 2002.
De La Hoya indicated that he feels in his gut that Senior would feel too much internal conflict were he train Oscar to beat his son, and thus wouldn’t be able to muster the necessary desire to be at his best. Oscar contemplated several replacements, including Nacho Beristain, he said, but chose Roach to work with in the ultimate challenge of his 14-year pro career.
“It was a very thoughtful decision and it wasn’t a difficult decision,” said De La Hoya, age 33. “I analyzed the whole situation, and my choice is Freddie Roach, who I strongly believe is in my corner 100%, passionate the way I am about this fight.”
Roach called this opportunity the apex of his training career, and mentioned that he’ll hand off his most notable client, Manny Pacquaio, to assistant Justin Fortune if a April 28 fight with In Jin Chi takes place.
“Thank you very much for having the confidence in me,” Roach said, “and I look forward to helping you win the fight. It’s the biggest show ever and a must win for me.”
De La Hoya lauded Floyd Sr. repeatedly, and said he was most happy that he’s contributing to a possible familial reunion between the Mayweathers, who’ve been estranged for several years. In fact, De La Hoya said, he could see Senior working Junior’s corner on May 5.
“That’s his son. I would be happy if he trains his son,” the WBC junior middleweight champion said.
Two and a half weeks ago Mayweather asked Oscar for a $2 million payday to train him on May 5, and it was speculated that a hesitance to pony up such a vast sum contributed to Oscar’s choice to dump Floyd Sr. At the time, we at TSS speculated that the elder Mayweather’s salary demand was an exit strategy for Floyd Sr., and Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer admitted on the call that this theory entered the mind of the Golden Boy brain trust as well. “Money wasn’t the issue,” De La Hoya stated. “Money had no impact whatsoever.”
Oscar offered to pay Senior $500,000, with a $500,000 bonus if he were to win. De La Hoya declined to answer how much he’ll pay Roach, who he said is a “master at dissecting opponents,” saying that the financial specifics were a personal matter between him and Roach.
Roach said that he’ll work with Pacquiao getting ready for his late April scrap, but will leave the Filipino come late February for Puerto Rico, where Oscar will get ready for his May 5 tussle.
Oscar left the door open to work with Floyd Sr. in the future, but insisted that he’s only concentrating on May 5, and isn’t certain that he’ll fight again after he tests his legacy against PBF. Oscar said that Senior was informed of the decision to go with Roach, but the implication was that somebody else told Mayweather.
The fight, which takes place at the MGM Grand, sold out in less than three hours, according to Schaefer, setting a record for a live event in Las Vegas. The Mayweather vs. Mayweather subplot isn’t necessary to sell the show, so jettisoning Senior, while taking the high road as a ‘family reparation specialist,’ makes sense for De La Hoya. He maintains that if Senior talks smack, he won’t engage in a back-and-forth beef, as he knows “where Floyd comes from when he makes negative comments. Deep down, he doesn’t mean them.”
Why do I think that this Zen resolve to turn the other cheek will be tested mightily between now and May? Floyd Senior has never been shy about indulging in confrontation, or speaking up if he feels he’s been done wrong…