By: Hans Themistode
From the moment Oscar De La Hoya burst onto the boxing scene, he was an instant star.
His 1992 Olympic gold medal and world titles in six different weight classes helped fuel a star studded career. De La Hoya hasn’t stepped into the boxing ring from a competitive standpoint in over a decade, but now as a promoter, he has helped put several boxers on the map.
His biggest star, Canelo Alvarez is universally known as the face of boxing. His youngest, Lightweight contender Ryan Garcia is on the fast track to a great career himself.
Most of the older boxers who have retired from the sport have taken on the “get off my lawn” sort of approach to the boxers of today.
If anyone understands just how difficult it is to build a star profile from scratch, it would be De La Hoya. With Garcia headlining the first card of his career on Valentine’s Day, February 14th at the Honda Center in Anaheim, California, De La Hoya is happy as can be to have someone so young and talented as Garcia. At just 21 years of age, De La Hoya can mold Garcia into one of the biggest names in the sport today.
“There is so much talent out there these days that it sometimes does make it a little harder,” said De La Hoya when discussing the difficulties of building a star boxer today as opposed to the era he grew up in. “But when you have a talent like Ryan Garcia, it makes it a little easier because he is doing the work, he’s fighting in the ring and proving himself. As a promoter, it makes my job a lot easier. Yeah we still have to organize the whole event and negotiate and the venue and all of that so it’s a lot of work but when you have a fighter like Ryan who gets it, it makes my job a lot easier.”
Garcia might be making the life of De La Hoya easier now, but it wasn’t always like that. Garcia came into the sport of boxing as a young 18 year old kid who believed he knew everything. The attitude and cockiness he showed both inside and outside of the ring may have brought him fans, but it was a constant headache for De La Hoya. Garcia isn’t exactly a vet at 21 years of age, but he has at the very least, matured.
“It’s experience. Every fight that you have, every training camp, every day that you sweat, blood and tears it helps. It’s just the experience. You gain that momentum and confidence where you feel like you can take on the whole world. Only fights can do that for you and taking on people who are better, stronger, faster and training more can do that for you. Ryan obviously hasn’t even reached his peak because he is so young but he is gaining that experience so that he could be the very best.”
The experience and maturity coupled with of course his skill level, has led directly to Garcia headlining this February 14th, card. It’s a milestone event for the young prospect but it could come with a major issue. Once a fighter transitions from the undercard to the main event, they seldom ever want to go back to the role of an undercard fighter again.
“We will have to see. Being under Canelo is always a good thing. But we’ll have to see because I believe that Ryan Garcia is going to be bigger than a lot of fighters that I promote. People love him. As long as he keeps performing the way he is performing then I think the sky’s the limit.”
Garcia might be a fighter on his way to stardom but the sports biggest star in Canelo Alvarez has his own fight date coming within the next few months.
“I have a pending trip to his hometown in Mexico very soon. That’s our little ritual, we go down there and stay there for a few days and talk for hours and hours to figure out the game plan. Hopefully within the next couple weeks we will have somebody nailed down in concrete.”
Finding an opponent for Alvarez is both easy and extremely difficult at the same time. The Mexican star currently campaigns at three different weight divisions. Those being Middleweight, Super Middleweight and Light Heavyweight. So while the options are long, it also means that everyone wants their shot at him. One name in particular that has emerged as a front runner is current WBO Super Middleweight titlist Billy Joe Saunders. If that’s the name your hoping will be announced, don’t hold your breath.
“No, not at all.”
With Billy Joe Saunders effectively out of the running for the Canelo fight, fans will just have to wait to find out who he’ll take on next.