Oscar De La Hoya appeared on ESPN’s “First Take” with Stephen A. Smith and Max Kellerman on Tuesday, ostensibly to kick off the hype for the Sept. 16 middleweight title bout between Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Alvarez.
It’s arguably the best fight that could be made in boxing at this point and has been debated for nearly two years now.
During that appearance, though, De La Hoya was very much like the working guy who won $100,000 by purchasing a $1 lottery ticket but then took the winnings and blew it all on one roll of the dice in the casino.
Instead of talking about what a great fight GGG-Canelo will be, De La Hoya used some of his precious airtime and brought up Floyd Mayweather.
“Even Floyd, after this fight with Canelo and Golovkin, forget about ‘The Notorious One,’ [UFC lightweight champion Conor McGregor],” De La Hoya said on “First Take.” “Forget about a fighter who has zero experience, who has zero fights, who has zero amateur experience. Forget about that. Mayweather’s better than that. Mayweather, if you want to fight or have a rematch against Canelo, or a fight against Golovkin, go after them. After Canelo and Golovkin fight, go after the winner.”
As big as Golovkin is among the hardcore boxing audience, he still lacks the name recognition among casual fans and unquestionably among the general sports audience, which only buys the absolute biggest boxing matches.
De La Hoya’s job over the next four months is to raise Golovkin’s profile in order to help maximize the pay-per-view sales.
In his only two pay-per-view bouts, Golovkin has sold a combined total of about 320,000. That’s the equivalent of a badly performing Alvarez pay-per-view. They’re not good numbers, and they’re far fewer than what a star in the ring of Golovkin’s magnitude should sell.
He remains, though, a largely unknown name and face among all but the most fervent boxing fans.
Triple-G is a great fighter, but there is enormous work to be done to introduce him to the public at large, which will make the difference between a successful pay-per-view and a dud.
This requires focus, and it’s something that De La Hoya lacks at this stage of his career. He’s in the news as much for his nightlife as he is for his promoting, and that’s not good when his big-money promotion needs a competent, coherent, fully engaged De La Hoya to crisscross the country selling the fight.
Mayweather is 40 years old and hasn’t fought since defeating Andre Berto on Sept. 12, 2015. The earliest he could possibly fight the Triple-G-Canelo winner is May 2018, when he’ll be 41 and retired for 32 months.
He made it clear when he was active he wouldn’t fight a middleweight.
He can make more than $100 million for fighting McGregor in what would be an easy, one-sided fight. Why should he accept less to fight what could potentially be a difficult, dangerous fight that could spoil his perfect record and his argument about being “The Best Ever?”
De La Hoya was obviously trying to use Mayweather’s name to boost interest in the fight, but it’s not going to help him.
He needs to build up Golovkin and create an image of Golovkin as such a dangerous opponent that Alvarez fans will fear for his safety before the first bell rings.
Bringing Mayweather into the conversation simply takes the attention away from where it needs to be: On Golovkin and the fight with Canelo.
De La Hoya knows far better than to make such a rookie mistake.