Boxing: Oscar De La Hoya

De La Hoya 'doing fine' in rehab

October, 24, 2013
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Hall of Famer Oscar De La Hoya made news Sept. 10, during the Floyd Mayweather-Canelo Alvarez fight week, when he announced he would enter rehab after a substance-abuse slip.

The 40-year-old, six-division champion who hung up the gloves after his Dec. 6, 2008, loss to Manny Pacquiao, put out a release that said, in part, "I will not be at the fight to cheer Canelo to victory since I have voluntarily admitted myself into a treatment facility."

That statement was distributed four days before the 36-year-old Mayweather showed young gun Alvarez, age 23, that his mastery of the sport wasn't to be trifled with.

De La Hoya's battle with substance abuse first reared its head in May 2011, when news hit that he'd entered Promises, a Malibu, Calif., rehab facility. He then admitted publicly in August that he'd struggled with alcohol and cocaine usage, and said at that time he'd been in "rehabs" previously.

Wednesday afternoon, I asked Richard Schaefer, who runs the day-to-day operations of Golden Boy Promotions, the outfit headed up by the boxer now beset by personal demons, for an update on "The Golden Boy."

"He is good," said Schaefer, days out from the Saturday Golden Boy event in Atlantic City, N.J., topped by a Bernard Hopkins-Karo Murat main event. "He's still in rehab. He extended his time there a bit. He knows it's important he's focusing on what he needs to focus on, himself and his family. I talked to him, went to see him as well. He's doing fine."

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Yormark pitches Mayweather-to-Brooklyn

September, 24, 2013
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The "boxing is dead" bunch got a kick in the groin on Sept. 14, when Floyd Mayweather took on Canelo Alvarez at the MGM Grand and more than 2.2 million households ponied up to watch the 12-round Mayweather master class unfold on pay-per-view.

If we're measuring the vitality of a business with a dollars and sense metric, and we usually do, the Mayweather-Canelo tussle was a Powerball home run, as it set a new mark as the highest-grossing PPV ever, generating $150 million plus.

The naysayers will counter that Mayweather is the "last star" and the sport will fall off a cliff and turn to a skeleton in a graveyard next to horse racing when he exits the scene. They'll stick to their rigid stance of negatavism, showing their ignorance of the time-honored tradition of the birthing of new megastars to replace the old ones. I semi-respectfully disagree with their reasoning, which is myopic at best. Sounds to me like the CEO of Barclays Center and the Nets, Brett Yormark, is in my camp. Yormark chatted with NYFightblog on Monday morning, and sounded beyond upbeat about the state of the sport, especially within the sphere of the five boroughs.

You'll recall that Yormark flew to Vegas to begin setting the table for a pitch to bring the next Floyd Mayweather fight to Barclays, so I asked him for an update on that junket.

"I'm a big-event guy," Yormark told me. "Do I want to do the Super Bowl of boxing here? Darn right I do. And I will work tirelessly to convince promoter Golden Boy and any other partner that a Mayweather fight could be that much bigger, in the biggest city, New York. In Vegas, I made it known my interest. His nickname is "Money," well, "Money" needs to come to the money city. Mayweather transcends boxing, everywhere I went in Vegas and on the way, people were talking about the fight, and I think people who attended will look back at the event, and say, 'I was there.' "

Yormark said he will be putting together a pitch within a month for Team Mayweather and Golden Boy which will play up the success Barclays has enjoyed, like the buzz pop (including a 66% year-over-year ratings jump) the Video Music Awards received when they unfurled at Barclays on Aug. 25.

"It's about building the story," the Barclays boss said, when asked about the critics who say that the revenue derived from the gaming upsurge a Mayweather-in-Vegas bout spurs means Floyd will never fight outside Nevada. "The money will work itself out. The overall package will excite people. We have Madison Avenue, we have the talk shows, we have the media, things Vegas doesn't have. And I love Vegas. I was there for the fight, and I want to bring the next Mayweather fight here to New York, to Brooklyn, and have it be an 'I was there' event."

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Yormark wants Mayweather in Brooklyn

September, 13, 2013
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The word out of Las Vegas, ahead of Saturday's clash between Floyd Mayweather and Canelo Alvarez, is that the scene is hectic and electric. Promoter Golden Boy is expecting the clash to draw the most pay-per-view revenue ever, surpassing the $132 million collected for the 2007 Mayweather fight against Oscar De La Hoya. Yes, the boxing business isn't dead, apparently; or, at the very least, the Mayweather business is flourishing. The 36-year-old will make a guaranteed $41.5 million, plus a massive bonus, depending upon how well the pay-per-view broadcast does.

Barclays Center and Brooklyn Nets CEO Brett Yormark would like to bring some of that boxing buzz to New York for Mayweather's next bout. A source tells ESPNNewYork.com that Yormark flew to Las Vegas on Friday and will be a guest of promoter Golden Boy at the fight. "He is determined to get Mayweather's next fight for Barclays Center in Brooklyn," the source said.

Yormark will also meet with some of the Golden Boy fighters who have been showing off their skills in the arena, like welterweight Paul Malignaggi and middleweights Peter Quillin and Danny Jacobs, three New York-bred pugilists. "Yormark is not going to stop until he gets the Mayweather fight," the source said, in closing.

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B-Hop named Barclays boxing ambassador

July, 24, 2013
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Boxing's ageless wonder, Bernard Hopkins, can add a new tag to his collection.

Hopkins, the 48-year-old light heavyweight champion who holds the mark for being the oldest human to win a world title, has been named "goodwill ambassador" of the boxing program at Barclays Center.

The IBF champion, a Philadelphia native, has a story which transcends sports. He is perhaps the best-known success story coming out of Graterford State Correctional Facility in Pennsylvania, where he served 56 months for armed robbery. After his release in 1988, Hopkins turned pro and has made good on his vow to never return to lockup.

Now an executive with Golden Boy Promotions, Hopkins (53-6-2) will serve as a spokesperson at Barclays Center fight cards and appear at news conferences and boxing community clinics in the city. The fighter will also do meet-and-greets with Barclays Center customers and business development meetings.

"I'm honored to represent Barclays Center," Hopkins told NYFightblog after he finished presiding over Golden Boys' Manhattan presser to announce an Aug. 19 card in NYC. "At this stage of my career, I have more time to do things such as this assignment than physically fight. I'm excited."

He understands the potential influence he could have with some at-risk kids who have been written off by authority figures. "I was labeled unfixable," said the boxer, who will soon begin to prep for an Oct. 19 title defense against Karo Murat in Atlantic City. "I will be able to reach kids that are difficult. You are going to lose some, but you have to give the message, and you hope they listen."

Barclays CEO Brett Yormark told NYFightblog that he believes Hopkins can be integral in continuing to build a base of boxing fans in Brooklyn and beyond. "We've introduced boxing to the community and wanted to take that a step further," he said. "It's important to have Bernard as an ambassador, as a face for the program. I think he's a wonderful spokesperson and I'm honored to have him with us."

My take: Barclays is on a roll; it is the top-grossing U.S. venue in the last six months for concerts and family shows, according to Billboard, and is No. 2 worldwide in gross ticket sales revenue ($46.9 million), behind The O2 in the UK. The Barclays crew is optimistic it will get the nod to re-develop the Nassau Coliseum, and see Hopkins as a building block to reinvigorate boxing on Long Island if that comes to fruition.

The Hopkins-as-ambassador-role was by no means a no-brainer. Hopkins is unafraid to speak truth to power, and sends the occasional shot-across-the-bow to people he thinks lack wisdom or integrity, and doesn't flinch on taking on nuclear issues, like race in America. Some could see his flashes of candor as a turnoff, but the Barclays bunch apparently sees it as an asset, which reflects a certain admirable boldness on their part.

Boxing at Barclays has quieted critics

July, 2, 2013
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Back in July 2010, when the people from the Brooklyn arena that hadn't been built yet, Barclays Center, announced they were getting into boxing, with an exclusive deal with California-based Golden Boy Promotions, it's fair to say the reaction wasn't shock, awe and optimism across the board.

After all, the topic was boxing, that much-maligned throwback sport whose best days were in the rearview mirror of the Camaro. A niche sport, they sniffed, relevant once or twice a year -- and probably for not that much longer, once Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao packed it in.

I confess, I had doubts myself, whether the NYC region would sustain the demand for regular dates at the Barclays Center. At the time, I recall asking Brett Yormark, the CEO of Barclays Center and the Brooklyn Nets, if the arena would have a micro-arena built, a theater to accommodate 5,000 or so fans, max. The implication of my question was clear: I don't think you can find enough boxing fans to fill up the barn on a regular basis. He assured me then that there would be no mini arena and that the fans would come.

Fast forward to today; I admit my skepticism was misguided. Barclays and Golden Boy has put on four boxing shows, the most recent one taking place on June 22, topped by a Paulie Malignaggi-Adrien Broner welterweight tussle. The attendance for each event has been healthy, and 11,461 people watched Broner take a split decision from the Brooklyn native.

I sat down last week for a chat with Yormark and asked him to reflect on the journey, getting boxing back to being more of focal point, not just a side dish, in the region.

"In some respects I feel vindicated," he said. "We've been able to do exactly what we hoped for, and more, and that's to bring an incredible sport back to Brooklyn, where it has a heritage, and have it flourish. And in less than a year we've been able to do that."

The grumblers, the tear-down artists, were out in force at the start. Boxing debuted on Oct. 20, 2012 at Barclays, and the "I told you so" crowd noted that they saw ticket markdowns and package deals available everywhere in the weeks leading up to opening night. They cited that as proof the endeavor would fail. In fact, audience response has been quite respectable, Yormark said. The first show drew 11,112; the second, on March 9, 2013 drew 12,293; the third, on April 27, drew 13,048. All the main events and select undercard bouts were televised on Showtime.

Critics mumble under their breathe that those figures represent a large dose of "comps," or freebies, to paper the house. Not so, Yormark told me.

"We did not comp," he said. "We're not comping. There are very few comps. The first two fights we discounted probably a little more than we wanted to, but we have not comped. We don't believe in comping here. One of the things we had to learn, we had to learn price it right, and in the last two fights, I think we really priced it right."

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Mayweather, Alvarez do Times Square

June, 24, 2013
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Two middle-aged people, a man and a woman -- they looked like a couple -- strolled by the massive staging and setup at Times Square on the pedestrian island at 46th Street on Monday. The woman asked the man, "What's going on?"

"It's some kind of boxing thing," he answered.

Neither gets points for perceptiveness, as there was no shortage of signage indicating this event was meant to hype the Sept. 14 Las Vegas showdown between Floyd Mayweather Jr. -- the game's pound-for-pound ace, top draw and richest earner in all of sports -- and Canelo Alvarez, a handsome Mexican hitter who debuted at age 15 and inspires some of the same heart flutters in admirers that his promoter, Oscar De La Hoya, did.

[+] EnlargeFloyd Mayweather Jr. and Canelo Alvarez
Mike Stobe/Getty ImagesFloyd Mayweather Jr. and Canelo Alvarez kicked off their 11-city tour Monday in New York.
That this pair of folks paused to consider the hubbub in Times Square was the point. Showtime -- which lured Mayweather in with a 30-month, six-fight, megamillion-dollar deal at the start of the year -- wants to bring more eyeballs to the sweet science. Mission accomplished, it looked like in NYC, in the first stop of an 11-city media tour, as thousands braved the heat and late-arriving boxers, who were busy getting queried by media in a nearby hotel, to check out the spectacle.

Anyone expecting Mayweather to launch into a bad-boy tirade or insult fest at Canelo would have been disappointed, as the 36-year-old hitter played the crowd like a seasoned WWE performer.

He started a call-and-response chant, yelling "Hard work!" and had knowing fans finish his favored adage, "Dedication!"

He drew appreciative cheers -- after starting out with a majority of boos -- when he said, "There's no city like New York City," twice. He then expertly teased those watching by wondering if they might like to see him perform soon at Madison Square Garden.

The 44-0 Mayweather gets critiqued harshly, as is to be expected when you make $30 million a fight and aren't shy about proclaiming your excellence. Some grumble that he's having Alvarez weigh 152 pounds or less for a junior middleweight (154-pound) title fight, and that's not kosher -- not after Mayweather ridiculed Manny Pacquiao for seeking to level the playing field with catchweights. But most seem to understand that he's the game's signature player, and is thus entitled to tailor some elements to suit him when the opportunity presents itself.

The 22-year-old Alvarez didn't look even slightly awed by the majesty of it all. The 42-0-1 hitter didn't flinch in two stare-downs with Mayweather and declared, "This is my time. ... We're gonna win."

D.C. is the next stop for the tour, which will tally a seven-figure bill and is said to be the largest in fight game history, eclipsing the 10-city Mayweather-De La Hoya tub-thumper tour in 2007.

Can Alvarez perform as well as Oscar did in that unanimous decision loss? He has youth and strength on his side, but Mayweather didn't appear to have lost even a half-step in his previous outing, in May against Robert Guerrero.

Readers, could Canelo be the first to defeat Mayweather?

Weigh-in goes smoothly; Schaefer exhales

June, 21, 2013
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NEW YORK -- Promoter Richard Schaefer breathed a sigh of relief when the Friday weigh-in for the Saturday card at Barclays Center concluded, and no premature violence broke out.

The event unfolded at Brooklyn Borough Hall Outdoor Plaza. Welterweight titlist Paulie Malignaggi and up-from-lightweight Adrien Broner talked trash and glared at each other, but held it together and no melee occurred.

Schaefer's ace in the hole is fighter Bernard Hopkins, who works for Golden Boy and was right there, in between the main-event boxers as they did a staredown after making weight. "I can take a step back and I don't have to worry about it and I know Bernard will have it under control," Schaefer said. "He's my secret weapon."

Schaefer said he thinks some last-minute smart money will go toward Malignaggi, and the 11-to-1 odds in favor of Cincinnati boxer Broner set by the smarts might be too high.

If Broner beats Malignaggi, a scrap with Marcos Maidana could be in the works, Schaefer said. "Who wouldn't want to see that?" he asked.

Other possibilities for Broner, if he prevails, include the Andre Berto-Jesus Soto Karass winner; Devon Alexander; Amir Khan; or veteran Shane Mosley, who won in his comeback fight against Pablo Cano last month.

Schaefer also said that the winner of a Danny Garcia-Lucas Matthysse fight, which Schaefer is working on, would be a good fit against Broner.

Asked about the rumor that 140-pound standout Garcia is more likely to first have a rematch with Zab Judah than meet Matthysse, his mandatory, Schaefer said, "I don't know where those rumors came from about Zab."

He said both teams indicated to him that they want to get it on. Judah will be in the mix again soon, the promoter said, but the people are demanding Garcia-Matthysse. "I don't believe in marinating too much," he said.

Hopkins must beat Murat for superfight

June, 5, 2013
6/05/13
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I didn't want to be rude, or a know-it-all, like one of these pundits who signs off on all boxing matches and comes off as if they think they know better than the promoters, the matchmakers and sometimes the fighters themselves. But I had to admit to Bernard Hopkins, the ageless wonder from Philadelphia who flies under the radar somewhat in the whole-of-sports spectrum, but is still a stunning performer at an age where he has no business being active, let alone fighting at a Hall of Fame level, that I wasn't excited with his July 13 fight.

No disrespect intended to Karo Murat, the man who will glove up against Hopkins at Barclays Center, but I just think that at this stage of his career, he deserves nothing but meaningful fights. Hopkins (53-6-2 with 32 KOs) has earned, with his excellence and longevity, to face only the best and brightest boxers ... or, frankly, to fight whoever the heck he wants to at this juncture. If Hopkins made it clear on the down low that he wants to ease back some, take an easier schedule, not try to climb Everest and set his sights on shorter mountains, who am I to quibble?

So, with that in mind, I gingerly told Hopkins that I was a bit bummed that he wouldn't be facing off with another person who the smart money thinks will beat him. I braced for blowback...

"You sound like me," he answered, referencing his Wednesday media luncheon in NYC, which I couldn't attend, because my oldest daughter needed to get her conjunctivitis treated. "I've been craving one of those fights I haven't had since I fought my now partner, Oscar De La Hoya [in 2004]. That's not one hundred percent why I'm in the game but..."

Hopkins explained that he didn't have his sights set on Murat, a 25-1-1 German resident whose resume doesn't suggest he should be getting a crack at the legend. But all the logical suspects were booked up, or otherwise detained. So he kept his promise to the IBF, whose light heavyweight belt he holds, after snagging it from Tavoris Cloud in his last outing, at Barclays, on March 9. The IBF asked him nicely to please fight the mandatory tittle defense in timely fashion if he should beat Cloud, and that he did, confounding yet again many folks who should know better, who should by now know that to bet against Hopkins is like practicing your karate kicks on a beehive: you might get away with it once, but it just ain't wise.

Hopkins, who has become an indispensable consigliere to Golden Boy day-to-day boss Richard Schaefer in the last few years, showed his promoter chops when he told me that Murat is a not a gimme opponent. He said that anytime a 29 year-old fights a 48 year-old, the younger man has a solid chance to win. I'm dubious, as I saw no reason on March 9 to think Hopkins has slipped an iota. But his promoter-speak does pass the sniff test when he notes that the joint will be fairly filled with folks on July 13 who will attend to see if Father Time has finally laid his greedy hands on Hopkins, and removed the force field which keeps him from deteriorating.

I'd be engaging in false hype if I told you that there was a possibility that Hopkins looks past Murat, and that is one reason to hit Barclays on July 13. He knows that a loss to this pretty mediocre man messes up his plan to have at least one more superfight -- I am a one-man drum-band lobbying for it to be against Andre Ward at a catchweight -- and won't fall prey to that.

"The stakes are raised, because if I lose, then a superfight is out the window," he said, in closing.

Oscar De La Hoya at the upfronts

May, 17, 2013
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From Monday through Thursday, television people convened in New York City to hype their stuff and try to convince advertisers that their programming is top grade and worthy of getting top advertising dollars. Boxing exec Oscar De La Hoya made the trek to the "upfronts" from the West Coast, and on Wednesday, made his pitch to potential ad buyers about the health and well-being of his promotional outfit, Golden Boy Promotions.

"I was invited by Fox, our partners," he told NYFightblog in a phone conversation Friday. "We're starting on Fox Sports 1 in August, plus we do a lot of boxing on Fox Deportes. I was in front of the guys who spend the big bucks, and telling them that we put on great fights."

There were several hundred advertisers taking in his presentation, the soon-to-be Hall of Famer told me. "It was all great for the sport."

De La Hoya said he was shooting the breeze with UFC honcho Dana White, who went on after him, in the green room. White is Barnum-esque, a smooth showman who can charm with the best of them. How did De La Hoya fare? "I had the crowd going," he said, chuckling. "I told them if they add a few more zeros, I might come back to the ring."

You're joking, right? Or would you like to come back, give it one more go, against, say, Canelo Alvarez?

"Well ... " indicating that he understands his 40-year-old bones might not stand up to the hard knocks delivered by the 22-year-old who might meet Floyd Mayweather in September.

De La Hoya hung up the gloves officially in 2009, with a 39-6 mark.

"There's not one day that passes that I don't think about it," he admitted, "but I realize that I can't fight at the highest level, and the highest level is the only one I'd want to fight at."

De La Hoya also teased something that could come to fruition, besides maybe more ad dollars for the Fox content. "I have a very, very important meeting coming up, with me and Dana White," he said. I bothered him for a hint about the topic.

"It'll be about how we can work together," he said. "Cross-promoting. This is all combat."

Quillin & Co. on the ascent

May, 1, 2013
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Confession: My thoughts on Peter "Kid Chocolate" Quillin's chances in his title defense against Fernando Guerrero were impacted by his difficulty making 160 pounds on the day before the fight. Quillin was 1 1/2 pounds over and I really wondered if he was even going to bother trying to carve off that weight in a scant hour, which was granted to him by the NY State Athletic Commission. He waved to photogs, posed, did an interview with Steve Farhood for Showtime and I truly thought he was willing to give up his WBO title on the scale. But the 29-year-old surprised me, to the upside, when he came back in a hour, and made 160. But, I wondered, would this process take something out of him, leave an opening for the Marylander Fernando Guerrero? That question was answered at Barclays, when Quillin showed himself to be an immensely strong middleweight as he whacked the challenger around until the fight was stopped in Round 7.

After the weigh in, Quillin told me he was still getting used to a new eating regimen, put together by new strength and conditioning coach Rob Garcia, who used to work with Oscar De La Hoya. I chatted with Garcia at Gleason's a few days before the faceoff and noticed that he had the press cred for the Pacquiao-De La Hoya fight on his gym bag. Why? Because, he said, he keeps it around to remind himself to keep control, as best he can, of what he can. "That was a nightmarish night as a coach," Garcia told me. That's because De La Hoya worked with trainer Nacho Beristain for the first time, and was over-worked by the trainer, Garcia told me.

Garcia said he was actually picked to work with Manny Pacquiao before his last fight with Juan Manuel Marquez, but on again-off again strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza hopped back on board Team Pacquiao instead. Garcia bonded with Quillin, who like Pacquiao trains at Freddie Roach's Wild Card in California. He stuck with Quillin and blew off an opportunity, he said, to work with son of the legend Julio Cesar Chavez Jr., because his dad Ed Garcia sensed that Junior wasn't ready to focus fully on training.

Garcia and I chatted about the use of illegal PEDs in boxing, among other subjects. He said his guys are clean. "If you use illegals, you might rely too much on your strength in fights, instead of your intelligence," he said. Garcia said he has Quillin off all supplements and just eating organic foods.

This is the second fight Garcia has been with Quillin and the boxer has exhibited a noticeable bump in power; he dropped Hassan N'Dam N'Jikam to win the belt last October, and Guerrero twice in the second and seventh. Garcia told me that he only wants to work with coachable people and that he sees similarities in De La Hoya and Quillin. "They both work really hard and came from nothing," he said.

With many sensing Sergio Martinez nearing the end of the line, people are adjusting their view of the middleweight division; Quillin is on the rise and that leaves me that much more curious what is the next challenge for him.

More drama ahead of Garcia-Judah fight

April, 25, 2013
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If the Saturday clash between WBA and WBC 140-pound champion Danny Garcia and ex-junior welter and welter titlist Zab Judah contains half the drama that the buildup to the fight has provided, then fans at Barclays Center and watching on Showtime will have gotten their money's worth.

Team Garcia and Team Judah butted heads on Tuesday, at a promotional appearance held at the Modell's sporting goods store across from the arena, with the Garcia crew maintaining that Judah crashed the event and thus spurred a dustup. No punches were thrown, but Garcia's dad/trainer Angel Garcia yelled at Judah, the 35-year-old Brooklyn-born hitter, and tried to flip a table. Promoter Golden Boy didn't want a repeat performance, or even a full-blown rumble, so they sent out word on Wednesday night to both camps that the final press conference would run differently than normal. The fighters would appear at the arena separately, and wouldn't cross paths, the promoter decided.

So, after Oscar De la Hoya talked about the headline bout, and the undercard attractions, and let fighters like Peter Quillin and challenger Fernando Guerrero speak, the dais was cleared, and the Garcias sat down. Angel, who has history of being incendiary and provocative, apologized to Modell's for the dustup the other day. The 25-year-old Philadelphian Danny Garcia (25-0 with 16 KOs) then took to the mic and said he was "gonna destroy" Judah (42-7 with 29 KOs). "I'm injury free, the most motivated I've ever been, and I'm more dangerous than I was before," Garcia said. He promised to "beat the s---" out of Judah and then sat down.

The press was then told that Judah had been waiting at the arena, but had left. De La Hoya commented to the press that Judah's conduct was "unprofessional." Lo and behold, 10 minutes later, word spread that Judah was on his way back, and would make an appearance.

Fifteen minutes later, after Team Garcia was hustled out, Judah, along with his father-trainer Yoel and about eight other crew-members, took to the mic. "You called me unprofessional," Judah accused De La Hoya, who was about seven feet away from him, on the stage. Bernard Hopkins stepped between the men, to blunt any escalation.

"He made a comment," Judah said of De La Hoya. "You got to fix your facts first. I never had a problem with you!" Oscar took sips from a water bottle, a tight look on his face, but he didn't respond.

Judah complained that he'd been in the arena, with some of his crew, since 11 a.m. He said that he felt disrespected, a second class citizen and deserved better with almost 17 years in the pro game. He took questions from the press and said that he did indeed return to Barclays after reading on Twitter that De La Hoya called him "unprofessional."

He said he crashed the Modell's event not to make trouble, but to support fellow Brooklyn and New York talents Danny Jacobs, Peter Quillin and Marcus Browne. He implied that he did so to send a message that Brooklyn is his turf. He said, "I was born and raised in Brooklyn!" The veteran fighter had choice words for the senior Garcia, who he called a "dopehead" and a "custie," which is street slang for a user.

Judah then got off the stage and was barraged with more questions from the press. After a few minutes, Oscar came over and shook his hand, nodded at him, without saying anything, and left. Judah explained further that he came back for the presser to show he's "not a quitter, not a runner."

A source from Showtime told NYFightblog that Judah called Showtime executive Stephen Espinoza after the boxer left and said he was coming back, to clear his name. The source said that both camps were informed Wednesday night that the press conference would be formatted like this, so Judah should not have been surprised at the lengthy wait.

A weigh-in is to be held Friday at Barclays, at 1 p.m., and is to be open to the public. A source close to the promotion told me that switching the weigh-in to a private event is likely not an option, so probably arrangements will be made so once again, Team Judah and Team Garcia don't cross paths.

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Hopkins' willpower knows no bounds

March, 7, 2013
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Bernard Hopkins gave a sense Tuesday of how he truly feels about the short shrift he's gotten from the mainstream press considering he's 48 years old, a middle-aged man who is still fighting at a world-class level. And doing it while clean, not on PEDs, he asserted at a Gleason's Gym workout ahead of his Saturday main event clash with IBF 175-pound champ Tavoris Cloud.

Hopkins' promoter, Richard Schaefer, offered some insight on Wednesday into his fighter's self-discipline, which might seems obsessive in the eyes of many of us.

Schaefer talked about a dinner back in 2004, after Hopkins beat Oscar De La Hoya and then considered joining the Golden Boy Promotions stable. After Oscar, Schaefer and Hopkins sat down to eat, Hopkins considered the shrimp scampi and asked how it was prepared. The server told him it was flambeed, with a splash of booze. "No, no, no," Hopkins said. He didn't want to ingest even a teaspoon of alcohol, even if the booze was going to be burned off.

Another time, Schaefer lit up a cigar around the boxer. Hopkins bolted. "I can't be around smoke," he said, and walked off.

His self-discipline is maniacal, as he seemingly never deviates more than five pounds from his fighting weight. And the no-booze anecdote makes sense. Hopkins decided after leaving a penitentiary stint that he'd never be back, and thus, he'd need to have all his faculties about him, 24/7.

Anything that might dim his radar, Hopkins wants no part of. At times, he can appear to an unknowing onlooker as mildly paranoid, but then again, once you wrap your brain around how the boxing business often works, maybe what appears as paranoia should be seen as realistic.

Keith 'One Time' Thurman opening eyes

March, 1, 2013
3/01/13
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I was talking to a boxing manager the other day and he was telling me he doesn't care for the attitudes of many of the boxers today. When he hears a kid he is contemplating signing say, "Skills pay the bills," he said, he's inclined to put away the pen and paper. No, signing cuties who prize not getting hit more than inflicting punishment isn't on his to do list. That manager doesn't manage Keith Thurman, but Thurman, a welterweight who fights March 9 at Barclays Center, is the sort of throwback attacker he'd like to have in his stable.

The 19-0 (1 NC, head clash) Florida resident, who has 18 knockouts to his credit, spoke to NYFightblog about his March 9 bout in Brooklyn against ex-champ Jan Zaveck (32-2 with 18 KOs, ex-IBF welter champ; from Slovenia), his rise to this place and why he calls out the top names in the game.

"I'm psyched to fight in NYC on March 9 at the Nets Center [aka Barclays Center]," Thurman told me. "New York is one of those legendary boxing capitals I've yet to enter, and it feels really great to hit New York up." Thurman-Zaveck is support to a Bernard Hopkins-Tavoris Cloud mainer, on a card promoted by Golden Boy which will run on HBO (9:30 PM ET start).

Thurman opened eyeballs when he took out Brandon Hoskins on the May 5, 2012, on the Mayweather-Cotto PPV undercard, more yet when he stopped Orlando Lora on the July 21, 2012 Broner-Escobedo undercard on HBO, and exponentially more when he stopped (TKO4) slick vet Carlos Quintana on Nov. 24, 2012, underneath the Guerrero-Berto scrap, again on HBO. Zaveck is probably a step up from Quintana, and Thurman isn't assuming he's going to blast him out with ease.

"Zaveck I know is a very tough and durable fighter, he's been in with world champs, he's an ex-world champion, he's 36 and knows if he wants to be champ again the time is now," Thurman said. Good assessment from the fighter, who grew up in a single parent household, with his mother holding the fort after dad left.

He got into boxing at age 7, and found a mentor in trainer Benjamin Getty, who was with Thurman until he died in May 2009. Thurman won silver at the 2008 Olympic trials, to Demetrius Andrade, and turned down a slot as an Olympic alternate. He turned pro in November 2007.

Thurman isn't shy about trying to separate his foes' heads from their shoulders, or calling out those presently higher than him on the ladder. "I called out big fighters in my HBO debut, I called out Malignaggi, Bradley, Floyd Mayweather, I created buzz," he said. "People maybe said why is he calling people out, he hasn't done anything. I don't claim to have done anything but to I want to show you what I'm about to do. It's about letting the world know the future of boxing is Keith "One Time" Thurman."

And that nickname, "One Time," where does that come from?

Thurman said his dad back in the day would throw hands with buddies, and he'd often put someone down with a single body shot: "I am Keith Thurman Junior, I might as well take his nickname. I didn't announce that nickname till I had eight first-round KOs, I didn't want to brand myself right off the bat, I wanted to show what I can do."

My takeaway: His inclination to finish fights, paired with a smart mix of chutzpah and humility has placed Thurman on my must-watch list.

Rapper 50 Cent enters boxing biz

February, 15, 2013
2/15/13
4:13
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He's conquered the charts in the rap music category, parlayed a stake in the beverage company Glaceau for a buyout payday to Coke, so you might figure 50 Cent would parachute into the boxing business and set up shop looking to be the top dog from the get go.

Get out of the away, Bob Arum. Step aside, Oscar de La Hoya. Check out how the new blood does it, OG Don King.

But no.

Fifty, who announced his entry into the boxing promotion business in July, is soaking up the industry practices by watching vets like Arum and Lou DiBella, the New York-based dealmaker. He saw Arum's Top Rank machine in motion ahead of the Dec. 8 Manny Pacquiao-Juan Manuel Marquez scrap in Las Vegas. Top hitter in his stable, Yuriorkis Gambo, fought and won on the undercard.

On March 1, Fifty, whose fight promotion entity is called SMS Promotions, is putting on a show at Foxwoods in Connecticut, along with DiBella. SMS' Billy Dib, the IBF featherweight champion, tops that ESPN "Friday Night Fights" card, facing off with Evgeny Gradovich. The rapper-mogul is getting his hands dirtier on this card, shadowing DiBella, who has three decades in the business. "I don't want to learn from my mistakes," 50 Cent told NYFightblog. "That's how you pay in business. You utilize someone who has already made those mistakes. Having experienced people with you is how you acquire information faster."

The Queens-born entertainer was a constant presence by the side of pound-for-pound ace Floyd Mayweather the last few years. Their relationship cooled, however, after Mayweather's three month jail stint this summer. I wondered about the state of their union, and asked if there was a possibility that 50 Cent would promote Floyd's next fight, after his May 4 Golden Boy promoted bout. Fifty said, in fact, he reached out and messaged Floyd not long ago about promoting the May 4 fight. He told the fighter he could come up with a $40 million pot. "There were a lot of roadblocks coming from Floyd," he said. "I've said publicly, he's like my brother. If he chooses not to invest, that's OK. If you'd never seen me around Floyd, things would be the same."

So, is the door shut on promoting a Mayweather fight? "He's aware the option is there," Fifty said.

Mayweather doesn't have a foe picked for his May tussle, so I asked Fifty to put on his promoter cap, and weigh in on who he thinks Floyd should pick. Robert Guerrero? Devon Alexander? Manny Pacquiao? "The most exciting fight is "The Ghost" Guerrero," he said. "Devon is talented, but I don't think it's an exciting fight. The Manny fight, I think it was blown up so big, it popped. Will it ever happen? At one point, before Floyd went to jail, he was willing to make it, but money issues [prevented it]. I don't think it happens now. I think Floyd is concerned with just hanging on. His brand is so big he could be fighting anybody. He could fight me if I could make the weight. People tune in to see the event, not for the excitement of the matchup."

My takeaways: I am impressed, and told 50 Cent, that he is wisely aligning himself with industry stalwarts. That shows wisdom and humility. I can see him sticking with this, for a long haul. He said he sees himself being at or near the top of the pack in five or so years, when the next generation of boxing promoters has stepped up.

Apollo to host second boxing event

February, 8, 2013
2/08/13
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The Apollo Theater is best known as a music venue.

On March 2, however, the Harlem landmark will host a talent search of sorts, in a boxing promotion staged by Golden Boy.

Mexican Daniel Ponce De Leon (44-4) defends his WBC featherweight crown against Puerto Rico's Jayson Velez (20-0), topping a night of boxing, which will be featured at the building for the first time since 1997. This will be just the second professional boxing event staged at the fabled space.

Showtime will televise some of the scraps, including the mainer and a clash between Richard Abril (17-3-1) and Sharif Bogere (23-0). The vacant WBA lightweight title will be up for grabs in that one.

"There's nothing like boxing's Mexico vs. Puerto Rico rivalry and this fight between Ponce De Leon and Velez is going to be explosive from start to finish," said Oscar De La Hoya, president of Golden Boy Promotions. "New York City is the perfect location for this event and we can't wait to have our first show at the historic Apollo Theater."

"This will be a great fight once again the classic battle between Puerto Rico and Mexico," said Miguel Cotto, who promotes Velez. "Jayson is ready to take the challenge and fight for the world title. Puerto Rico will have a new world champion on March 2."

Gary Russell Jr. (21-0) tangles with Vyacheslav Gusev (20-2) in the TV opener.

Nigerian David Izon stole the show on the 1997 Apollo card, knocking out Lou Savarese of the Bronx in round five.

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