Oscar De La Hoya shares how pandemic can be 'blessing in disguise' for boxing fans

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If there's a silver lining to be found for boxing fans forced to wait through this current stretch of inactivity amid the coronavirus pandemic, Oscar De La Hoya believes the payoff could be right around the corner. 

De La Hoya, the Hall of Fame fighter and Golden Boy founder, believes he'll be back presenting fights "sooner than later" and believes his fellow promoters across all combat sports will be forced to adjust in a positive way to the public's demand. 

"It's going to make us think twice to make the best fights possible for the fans," De La Hoya told CBS Sports' "State of Combat" podcast on Wednesday. "Imagine putting the best against the best. That's exactly what people are wanting. I think that this pandemic and what we are living is actually a blessing in disguise because now promoters have to put on the best shows possible. They have to put on great fights. I believe we are going to survive this and be OK as long as we make the best possible fights for the fans."

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To backup that statement, the 47-year-old De La Hoya confirmed that plans for this fall include a long-awaited trilogy between his star fighter, Canelo Alvarez, and Gennadiy Golovkin. Both fighters were signed to lucrative deals with the streaming app DAZN more than a year ago for the express purpose of producing a third action fight between them. 

Although Alvarez initially balked at the idea to the chagrin of his promoter, network and fans out of dislike for Golovkin and nothing to prove, a March report revealed both fighters had come to terms on the financials for a third meeting.

"We have to make a statement and GGG-Canelo has to happen," De La Hoya said. "We have to show the world that we can make the big fights happen and that we are here to say. Boxing will always be boxing and will always survive, pandemic or not. Boxing has been around for ages. It's as long as we make the biggest and best fights. Canelo and GGG doesn't get any bigger than that."

Alvarez was initially linked to a May bout against super middleweight titleholder Billy Joe Saunders, but De La Hoya said the fight can be passed over depending upon the timing of boxing's eventual return.

"It's a fight that people are not really wanting," he said. "It's a fight that never got signed but it all depends on Canelo and what he wants. Canelo always fights the best and I have no doubt in my mind that he wants to go after GGG."

Although De La Hoya and Alvarez were publicly at odds with each other in 2019, the promoter says their relationship has improved.

"Look, it's like a family. Families fight and have their differences but at the end of the day, it's family," De La Hoya said. "Me and Canelo are on great terms, everything is good. I'm a fighter and promoter that looks out for the best interests of our stable and Canelo is the biggest draw and star in boxing. We are good; we are great, actually. He knows that we have done a great job for him and we know that he draws and brings in the crowds. It's a business and we both are smart enough to realize that."

As far as when boxing will officially be back in the U.S., De La Hoya remains unsure. He is hoping for as early as June and said he has been in regular contact with state commissions in California, Texas and Florida. The latter recently became the first state to deem pro sports as essential business provided it is done in front of an empty arena. 

UFC president Dana White, often a public adversary of De La Hoya, will promote his first show in nearly two months when UFC 249 on May 9 kicks off a stretch of three fight cards in eight nights for the promotion, all taking place at Vystar Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville, Florida. 

"We dipped our toe in the MMA water with Chuck Liddell against Tito Ortiz and it was a massive success," De La Hoya said. "Dana came out and criticized me and ridiculed me but Dana is doing a phenomenal job in defending his sport and growing his sport. He's doing it big and doing it great. I commend him.

"I believe that people are itching to get back to sports to experience that live event. I strongly believe that there is nothing like a sports event like UFC or boxing at the highest level and I believe people are missing that. I strongly believe that it's a matter of time until we are going to see people filling up those arenas and getting back to the norm."

Along with making the best matchups available, De La Hoya also envisions a post-pandemic boxing world in which fans will benefit from more reasonable ticket prices. 

"Maybe it's an omen, I don't know," De La Hoya said. "Especially boxing, you rely on the international high roller from Asia or the UK to go to [Las] Vegas and spend their money and buy a $2500 ringside ticket. Maybe we have to reduce our prices for every event we do and therefore it will create more excitement and more fans to attend our boxing shows. Who knows? Boxing has always been a sport where if you have two superstars, you can charge $5,000 or $10,000 for ringside tickets. Maybe those days are over."

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Brian Campbell covers MMA, boxing and WWE. The Connecticut native joined CBS Sports in 2017 and has covered combat sports since 2010. He has written and hosted various podcasts and digital shows for ESPN... Full Bio

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