Oscar De La Hoya Interview Transcript

Richard Schaefer: Welcome everybody to today's conference call. I'm sure all of you have heard the decision. We actually just came from an amazing ceremony, a news conference, in front of Staples Center which was attended by thousands of people. We had over 30 cameras there. It was a very well-covered event. We had Tim Leiweke, the CEO and President from AEG there. We had the mayor of Los Angeles, Antonia Villaraigosa there. Oscar's father spoke. Oscar's wife spoke and so did the head of HBO pay-per-view Mark Taffet..

It's like a bittersweet day today. An amazing career of one of the most accomplished athletes, period, in the world ever - is coming to an end. An amazing career with ten world titles in six different weight divisions, a list of opponents which really reads like the who is who of boxers of this generation. From Trinidad to Hopkins, Mosley, Mayweather, Whitaker, Chavez, Quartey, Vargas, Pacquiao, Gatti, Camacho, Genaro Hernandez and many others. Oscar really was a one man franchise whose 19 pay per view events generated 14.1 pay-per-view buys and $696 million of pay-per-view revenues. That all made him clearly the all-time pound-for-pound king in boxing, and really in just about any other sport. It is truly an honor now for me to turn it over to Oscar, the President of Golden Boy Promotions and my friend. We really are proud to be here with him and share that special day. Please Oscar.

Oscar De La Hoya: Thank you very much Richard. It was a very emotional and difficult decision for me to make. But I have come to the conclusion that I am retiring from being a fighter. It's not easy to even talk about it because every time I think about it, every time I mention it it reminds me that this was my life for the last 32 years. And to know that I will not be lacing up the gloves again; to know that I won't be feeling that same adrenaline and rush that one feels when they fight is difficult. But I thought it was only fair to my self. I thought it was only fair to my fans that I make this decision because it hurts me that I cannot compete at the highest level anymore. It kills me inside that every time I step inside the ring now it's not me. It's not the person, the fighter, that people grew up watching. And therefore that was one of the reasons why I decided to retire along with many more. So I am firm on this decision. I am convinced I'll never ever come back and I am glad that we can now focus on something else that also has to do with boxing and that is being involved and promoting fighters. So it is a bittersweet moment for me but I truly feel I've made the right decision.

Richard Schaefer: Okay. Before we're going to open it up to the media for question I just want to say as well, Oscar has over the years developed a very nice relationship and friendship with many of the writers here in the United States and frankly around the world. And I want to thank all of those people who have worked so hard to help and cover Oscar.Some of them have been critical, others not, but I think with many of you we have really built a friendship and a relationship. In that regard, to make this announcement here in Los Angeles without you guys having been able to be there in a way was a bit sad. And so what we wanted to do and what we will do is we will put together on September the 19th in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand Hotel together with HBO and with all of our sponsors--a mega event, a mega extravaganza celebrating Oscar De La Hoya's career.

It will be a huge event. We will fly in all the fighters he fought. We want to make it like a fan fest, really involve everyone who has been associated or involved with Oscar's career. And in, the coming weeks we will release more information on that. And of course all of you media members will be invited there and we hope you can be there to celebrate this tremendous career. I'd like to open it now to the media and make Oscar available for any questions.

Kevin Iole, I just wanted to offer you my congratulations on great career and on your retirement and wish you all the best. And I wonder what changes for you now that you're no longer an active fighter in terms of how you promote? Are you going to be out on the road more? Is anything going to change in terms of the way you promote and run Golden Boy Promotions?

Oscar De La Hoya: Well I obviously going give myself some bigger responsibilities and be more active and really change it up. We're going to drive that train and we're going to go full steam ahead. It's an exciting moment for me because now I have the opportunity to really build Golden Boy Promotions to what it should be. And we've done an amazing job over these years but now it's really time to kick it up a notch.

Dan Rafael, ESPN: Oscar I will follow with what Kevin said and say congratulations and personally speaking thank you for all the great thrills I've had covering your career for the past ten years. When we talked in Las Vegas on Saturday before the Winky Wright-Paul Williams fight, you were playing coy with us. I understand you wanted to save you announcement for today and you did that. I watched it. But I'm curious, I also had spoke to you in late February when you started to do some interviews after the Pacquiao fight. And then again in Houston when we were down there for the Marquez-Diaz fight. And at that point in February you didn't really seem - to me anyway, I got the vibe that you really weren't quite sure what you were going to do. And then we were in Las Vegas this past weekend you had said you had made your decision and you seemed a little more relaxed about everything. I'm wondering if you can pinpoint a moment or explain when the revelation came or the decision ultimately was final in your mind, "I'm going to announce my retirement. I'm not going to fight anymore." How did that go and what was that moment?

Oscar De La Hoya: I'll be honest with you Dan that it happened this morning.

Dan Rafael: Even after the press conference had planned, you could have changed your mind possibly?

Oscar De La Hoya: Yes. My wife asked me - she looked into my eyes and asked me, "Are you sure? Are you sure you want to retire?" And right there and then when she opened the door for me to come back and fight again I didn't take it because I just felt something that this is it. I'm not going to fall into the trap. And - because once you fall into the trap there's no way out. So it happened this morning Dan.

Robert Morales, Los Angeles Daily News: Hey listen, I was there today, but unfortunately I couldn't hang around afterwards there - since you're so popular there were about 50 TV cameras waiting in line so I had to get out of Dodge. But I had one quick question for you- did the fact that you had such a one sided defeat at the hands of Manny Pacquiao in your last fight, did that make coming up with the decision to retire even that much more difficult?

Oscar De La Hoya: It actually made it much easier for me to decide that it's over because - I needed that perfect excuse. I was searching for that perfect exit strategy. How do I retire? How does it happen? What is it going to take? Because we athletes are very stubborn and we never know when enough is enough. And when I got beat by Pacquiao it obviously makes it easier for me to say, "That's it. You don't have it anymore." And I can make any excuse that I want and say any excuse, but I ultimately planned and believed and thought about - that's why it took so long that the time is now. It's over. And so - but it made it much easier.

George Willis, New York Post: Hello Oscar and congratulations. Hey I've talked to some people about you and your career, and a couple of them say that you'll probably be remembered more as an attraction than a fighter. Citing the fact that though you did fight people like Hopkins and Trinidad and Mosley and Mayweather that you came out on the short end of those fights. How would you answer those people who say you were more of an attraction than a fighter?

Oscar De La Hoya: I say, "Thank you. Thank you for always watching me. Thank you for making me an attraction. Thank you for believing in me. Thank you for being there." I've had the opportunity to face many world champions and a lot of them I won. Some I lost. But my satisfaction comes - my satisfaction is because at least I tried. I tried to accomplish the impossible and not too many do that. And so if people want to remember me as an attraction then I'm glad I gave a lot of people a lot of entertainment.

George Willis: Great answer man.

Steve Carp, Las Vegas Review-Journal: You know, when we talked Friday you talked about this transition being pretty easy if this was going to be the route you took. If there was not a Golden Boy Promotions, how much tougher would this decision have been knowing that then maybe you wouldn't have been as financially secure as you are?

Oscar De La Hoya: I probably wouldn't be here today announcing my retirement. I mean obviously having something to fall back on, being part of a company that can helps me have something to fall back on and - it makes it much easier obviously. But that was not my reason why I retired. It was part of the reason but not the primary reason. You know, a lot of us fighters have it difficult. It's difficult to say when to retire. And there's a handful of reasons why we can't retire. And obviously money is one of them. And having to do something after boxing, having a life after boxing is one of them. So having Golden Boy Promotions obviously makes it a bit easier for me to say, "Hey, I'm going to hang 'em up for good."

J. Michael Falgoust, USA Today: Hi there. Can you step back now that you're when you look at your career and yourself, where do you put yourself if not in terms of history? I don't know if you're prepared to kind of compare yourself to guys, you know, like the Jimmy McLarnins and Jose Napoles but at least in terms of your era right now with the guys you came up with, Roy Jones was in this era, Evander Holyfield's in this era, Mike Tyson is in your era: where would you put yourself? Can you give an honest assessment of where you think you would rank in terms of not only what you meant to the sport but where you would place yourself in terms of the big picture?

Oscar De La Hoya: Well I've honestly never thought about it, but I would have to say top ten. You know I have accomplished a couple things in my career. I mean I'm probably most proud of jumping up in different weight classes and fighting in six different weight classes. It's not every day that you can see a fighter try to compete in those various weight classes.But I would have to say top ten because, you have a great fighter like let's say for instance Roy Jones, Jr. who is very talented and accomplished so much but there's accomplishment that I - that he can say, "Well Oscar never accomplished it." But there are accomplishments that I did that he can't say, "Well, you know, I accomplished what Oscar accomplished."

So it's - I ultimately have to say top ten, because we've had some great fighters in our era and I've just been very fortunate enough to be at least mentioned with these other top fighters.

Diego Martinez, Reforma Newspaper: It's a three-part question. The first one is, Oscar, you decided to retire now but like many great athletes, Michael Jordan's one of them obviously, they always return. They come back and they try to do it again. Are you totally convinced that you're not going to come back?

Oscar de la Hoya: You know, I've thought about. I've thought about it. The temptation's there. I don't know what I'm going to feel in a week from now, a month from now. But, you know, I went about this like I always have and I've always had a plan not only in boxing but in life. And personally, I'm 100% convinced I will never ever come back. I want to thank the fans for all their support, everything they've done for me, and, you know, always buying my fights.And I've made some good money and most importantly I've been able to keep my money and save it.And I want to thank the people around me that have helped me. And I have people around me that care about me and that have really helped me. And that's the reason why I know for myself 100% that I will not come back to boxing.

Diego Martinez, Reforma Newspaper: Oscar, what was your favorite memory in your career?

Oscar de la Hoya: The gold medal. Winning the gold medal was my best memory in boxing

Diego Martinez, Reforma Newspaper: What was your worst moment or memory in boxing?

Oscar de la Hoya: Well, my worst moment was losing to Bernard Hopkins, getting knocked out by Bernard Hopkins. That was the worst. That was the worst feeling and it was very difficult for to get over. But that was the worst feeling I ever had in boxing.

Salvador Rodriguez, Diario Record: Oscar congratulations on your retirement. I want to ask you, you had a lot of plans before you announced this retirement. You had a lot of plans: to retire with a win to try to erase the thought of the Pacquiao loss; to fight in Mexico City in Estadio Azteca Stadium in Mexico City: what happened with those plans now? What do you think about that?

Oscar de la Hoya: Yeah, that's what made it very difficult for me to reply to come up with this decision. Yeah I wanted to fight in Azteca Stadium. And I wanted to retire like a champion. That was the plan. But it made it very very difficult and that's why I couldn't come up with the decision right away. But I'm sure that I'm making the decision. I know that it's the best decision for my health. I understand as well that I'm not fighting at that very very high level anymore to be able to compete with the top fighters. And that's the reason why I made the decision. It really hurts. It's eating away at me. But I can tell you that the decision was made by myself on my own. It wasn't because of my friends, my family, my father, my wife. It's a decision that I came up with on my own.

Michael David Smith, AOL Fanhouse: Hi Oscar. First of all I'll echo both my colleagues and all the boxing fans around the world in congratulating you. My question is what are your goals as a promoter and as a businessman? And do those goals extend beyond sports - to other sports beyond just boxing? I know you've had some interest in mixed martial arts. You've had some interest in soccer. And I wonder whether you'll continue to branch out beyond your first love of boxing?

Oscar De La Hoya: Well thank you very much. I'm a very ambitious person. And whatever we touch in business whether it's promoting, whether it's soccer, we want to make sure that we give ourselves the opportunity to be our best. And my plans - our plans for Golden Boy Promotions--the sky's the limit. The sky's the limit because we're promoting a sport that used to be the sport--the sport where we can fill up arenas, where we can have millions of people watching and talking about boxing. And we have an opportunity to build it back. And slowly but surely we're heading toward that right direction and we have a great team that we've put together. And we're going to work hard towards the betterment of the sport whether it's taking care of the fighter or whether it's making sure that the fans are not confused who the champion is or whether fighters are receiving medial help.

T That's the vision. Those are the things we want to work towards. And, you know, we're very optimistic that it is going to get done sooner or later. For soccer with the Houston Dynamo--now we're involved in a different sport where we have the opportunity along with everyone else involved in the MLS to grow the sport to make it as popular as it can be here in the States, to make it the sport amongst our kids. And so it's a great responsibility but we embrace it and we at Golden Boy are hard workers, ambitious people and realize the potential that these sports have.

Ron Borges, Boston Herald:Oscar it seems like a long way from sitting with you and a few other people in Barcelona and you have the gold medal around your neck at lunch to that night against Manny Pacquiao. And I'm just wondering in the months leading up to that fight what doubts if any did you have that you were not the same guy because that night against Steve Forbes you really didn't look like the same guy? Did you have doubts yourself that you weren't right?

Oscar De La Hoya: Yes, I mean I - the first sign that I felt was with the Mayweather fight. I felt that that was the beginning of me not having it anymore, maybe - probably the second half of the fight. And you don't - at the time you don't want to accept it. You want to continue to lie to yourself and say, "You know, maybe something went wrong." Obviously the Forbes fight even though I won I got hit like there's no tomorrow, so then that obviously was a clear sign to me.

And especially the Pacquiao fight: you know, that was kind of like the icing on the cake so to speak. But I did feel that things weren't right in training camp. I did start getting beat up during sparring which in all of my boxing career it's never happened--ever ever in my life. I've never got beat up by sparring partners. And I was getting beat up by sparring partners in that training camp. But I didn't want to accept it. I didn't want to realize it. I was lying to myself. And so I had a hunch that this was coming sooner than later. I kind of had a hunch that something was wrong in the Pacquiao fight.I had a hunch that maybe I'm not going to beat him. But I've always said things in my life happen for a reason. And yes I did lose in a devastating way to Pacquiao. And yes people never imagined that would happen. But it happens for a reason because it made my decision that much easier to retire from a sport that I love dearly. I feel I have all my marbles. I feel I can still, physically work.

I feel that I'm still intact. So I think I've come out okay from such a difficult sport and a sport that I've been competing in at the highest level for such a long time. So that's why it made my decision that much easier.

Kelly Swanson: Okay thank you everybody. That was Oscar's last question.

Oscar De La Hoya: Thank you very much. From the heart sincerely thank you for everything you've done and we've been through this many times. Over the years we've lived through many great memories and I appreciate the people that I know, the people that I've met. You know, we're a community that is one that we appreciate each other and I want to thank you for that.

Article posted on 16.04.2009

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