He looked clear-eyed and fully engaged, doing his due dillgence in taking questions from media after reading prepared text at a Wednesday press conference to hype his fight card to unfold at Barclays Center in Brooklyn on August 9. Yes, Golden Boy Promotions boss Oscar De La Hoya is back, in charge, all in, it looks like, regarding the promotional company which bears his name, and his likeness on its logo, but for the last several years at least, more input from his CEO, Richard Schaefer, than him.
I wouldn’t call Oscar feisty, but he was quite clear with his thematic POV at Barclays, in a presser set up in the Brooklyn Nets practice facility, rather than in the arena label, and overlooking center court, as every other pre-fight presser has been held. That move gave the gathering a sort of B-grade feel, I guess, and that tied in with the fan reaction to the slate of fights for Aug. 9. Boxing fans, when that cards' specifics were released, took to Twitter immediately, and made it known that they didn’t have anything against the A listers topping the card, Danny Garcia, Lamont Peterson, and Danny Jacobs…but they had no love for the men chosen as foes for that threesome.
Having Garcia (28-0; age 26) and Peterson (32-2-1; age 30) on the same card, but not fighting each other makes next to no sense, they railed, and who the heck is Jarrod Fletcher anyway?
Oscar, sober and operating in the social media sphere which makes living in a boxing bubble impossible, has heard and read the diatribes, it looks like, because he hammered home the point that the sport has always given the heavy underdog a chance and manys a time those underdogs have risen up, with sharpened teeth and claws, and shocked all but themselves.
Give these guys, the 18-1 Aussie Fletcher (who fights Jacobs for a WBA 160 crown), and Edgar Santana (who gets a chance to unseat 140 pound titlist Peterson) and “Lighnting” Rod Salka (19-3 with just 3 KOs; age 31), who gets a shot at Garcia, a chance to show you that they are more than their resumes state, to rise to the occasion and shut down the naysayers. The Golden Boy reminded people that Felix Sturm came to the US as a no name, and nearly upset him back in 2004. (I had Sturm winning on points, for the record.)
Middleweight Danny Jacobs (27-1) shifted the topic away from the underdog uprising to his own arc; he recalled being on his death bed, cancer eating his body from the inside, and hearing that Barclays was being built. Will I ever fight there? Will I ever fight, period, he wondered, and told us during his time at the mic. Indeed he will, and is…and the Canarsie, Brooklyn resident showed how far past he is from that period when he called out to his missus, and asked her if his cancer scare came in 2011 or 2012, while doing an interview with a print reporter.
The 35-year-old Santana (29-4) made me believe a bit more in his chances with the serious look on his face, and his tone, and when he finished his speech with the words, “Let there be war.” We chatted after, for a video to appear on Boxing Channel, and he referenced his low point, a drugs bust which had him in jail briefly, and he left me thinking his fight could well be a better scrap than many are predicting. The Lou DiBella boxer can crack a bit with both hands, and is on a winning streak, and declares that he has learned his lesson, is done with the street lures, and wants to win a career definer on Aug. 9.
But of course, Angel Garcia put his stamp on the proceedings. He insulted Mauricio Herrera, calling him a pitty-pat puncher, and said he gave Herrera just three rounds in his fight against son Danny, in a bout many thought Herrera won, though the judges said otherwise. Garcia did some flag waving, telling us that American fighters don’t get the love they deserve and that outsiders get too much love and too many freebies. His relatives fought in wars for the US, but do they get full credit? No, he said, and went on the promise that Danny will be on Aug. 9, and in search and destroy mode.
De La Hoya wrapped it up by saying that you can never look past or down on the champion in boxing…but that is is unwise to dismiss the chances of the underdog. Aug. 9 is setting up as a night when the underdogs, guys who many say don’t deserve a chance at a title, can either make Oscar look like the Golden Boy of promotion, or make him wish he’d pushed harder for Jacobs, Garcia and Peterson to go in tougher.
Hey, I’ve been doing this awhile. I think we are all allowed to opine and pre-judge, vent out feelings. But fights aren’t fought on paper. I say that at least one of these ‘dogs will have their day on Aug. 9, and Oscar will be able to offer an “I told ya so” if he so desires.