Never one to back down from a fight, boxing legend, turned promoter turned sports entrepreneur, Oscar De La Hoya, who has been helping band together his influential friends in sports and entertainment to step up in the global battle to combat Coronavirus, believes that a return to sports led by the return of the fight game is right around the corner.
As the curve begins to flatten in some of the locales across the nation that have been hit hardest by the Coronavirus pandemic, news and rumors about which sports might return and when have begun to trickle out at a steadier pace recently. New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, even devoted several minutes of his daily press briefing yesterday to discussing the role in which a return to sports would have on the broader transition to what he and many others are describing as the “New Normal.” De La Hoya sees an opportunity for boxing specifically to be one of the first sports to return to action.
“America needs sports right now and we’re very confident that we will be able to resume within the next few months.” said De La Hoya.
De La Hoya went on to add that “Boxing is a sport that has survived wars and the most significant events we’ve lived through in recent times. Boxing has always been able to survive and I don’t expect this time to be any different.”
As to when exactly that might happen, De La Hoya noted that “We are discussing plans to restart in July and have had conversations with the commissioners of various states including California, New York, Texas, Arizona, and Nevada.”
Though it’s not ideal, De La Hoya admitted that any fights that would take place in the near term would have to be held without spectators, a move that most sports are likely to embrace in the near term as they attempt to balance the quality of their product with the obvious public health concerns.
“We all feel that safety is first,” said De La Hoya.
In terms of what such a set up might look like, the 10-time world champion, who has been promoting fights for nearly two decades vis a vis his eponymous Golden Boy Promotions, described a controlled environment in an arena or a venue connected to a hotel without spectators and an aggressive testing protocol. This outline tracks pretty closely to that laid out the other day by legendary boxing promoter, Bob Arum, who is gunning for a June restart in Las Vegas with a bare bones set up in a hotel ballroom and a four-fight card.
In the interim, De La Hoya, who is a seasoned entrepreneur in his own right, is also exploring other means of bringing boxing content and entertainment to people while the logistics of resumption sort themselves out. This would include a potential foray into e-sports and the revival of a popular boxing video game title for which De La Hoya graced the cover during his career.
“We’ve explored a number of different possibilities and have had discussions with EA Sports about potentially using this time as an opportunity to revive the Fight Night franchise.”
In addition to doing his part by bringing live sports and entertainment back to the sports-starved masses, De La Hoya is also putting his money where his mouth is to help his local community in Southern California combat COVID-19 as he personally donated $250,000 to Adventist Health White Memorial Hospital in East Los Angeles – and with the help of some of his friends in boxing and entertainment, was able to raise over $5,000,000 and counting for the hospital that De La Hoya has supported since they helped treat his mother in her fight against cancer.
“Adventist Health White Memorial Hospital is close to my heart so I’ll do whatever I can to help. We were able to help raise over $5,000,000 to buy equipment and supplies (including food) that they didn’t have before and I’m proud of that.”
De La Hoya plans to build upon the work he did with AHWMH to help with Coronavirus relief efforts on a much wider scale, of which bringing assistance and awareness to Latino and African American communities across the nation, who have been hit especially hard by the virus.
“We must continue to educate. There are reasons why more Latinos and African Americans are dying and a big part of that is education – and I see that as my role to help close that gap.”