LAS VEGAS -- Oscar De La Hoya’s announcement Tuesday that he was returning to rehab to address his substance abuse problem and would miss Saturday night’s Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Canelo Alvarez showdown at the MGM Grand came as a surprise to many, especially because of the timing.
The announcement came just before the biggest fight his company, Golden Boy Promotions, has ever promoted, perhaps with the exception of De La Hoya’s own 2007 pay-per-view record-setter against Mayweather.
But Golden Boy chief executive Richard Schaefer, De La Hoya’s business partner and close friend, said De La Hoya had to do what was necessary, even if the timing is not good for the company. De La Hoya, a mentor to Alvarez, has been front and center throughout the promotion, talking up Alvarez’s chances and helping sell the fight.
Schaefer said that De La Hoya told him in the past week that he was having problems again, although Schaefer said he had not suspected anything.
“I’m nobody's babysitter,” he said.
Schaefer did not specify what problem De La Hoya was seeking treatment for, but he is an admitted alcoholic and has also abused cocaine.
“He really sounded very bad,” Schaefer said of De La Hoya. “It wasn’t one of the things where you can wait until next week. When you’re sick, you go get help, but I was surprised. But at the same time I was very supportive. I didn’t try to convince him that he had to be here. It wouldn’t have been the advice of a friend. I was hoping it wouldn’t happen, but it did happen.
“I’m very proud of him [for seeking help]. It’s not perfect timing, but what is? The show must go on. Oscar has a fight where he is and we have a big fight here.”
Alvarez said he understood De La Hoya’s situation and wished the best for him.
“I support him in his life battle,” Alvarez said through a translator. “I am sure he is going to win his battle, and I am going to win mine.”
Mayweather and De La Hoya have had a frosty relationship -- to put it mildly -- for years and have needled each other, promotion in and promotion out, when Mayweather fights. But Mayweather was also supportive when he heard about De La Hoya’s return to rehab for the second time since 2011.
“I wish him nothing but the best,” Mayweather said. “Hopefully he can pull through, like a true champion.”