Oscar De La Hoya is concerned about the long-term effect a fight between Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor might have on boxing.
The Golden Boy Promotions founder and 10-time former boxing world champion criticized the potential matchup in a lengthy post on his Facebook page on Thursday. De La Hoya claims that boxing has only recently began to recover from the disappointing Mayweather vs. Manny Pacquiao fight that took place in May 2015.
“2017 has started off as a banner year for boxing. Joshua vs. Klitschko; Thurman vs. Garcia; Golovkin vs. Jacobs; Canelo vs. Chavez. All four of these fights – and many more -- have brought the fight game back and reinvigorated interest from the ever-elusive casual fan,” De La Hoya wrote. “But if you thought Mayweather/Pacquiao was a black eye for our sport — a matchup between two of the best pound-for-pound fighters that simply didn’t deliver -- just wait until the best boxer of a generation dismantles someone who has never boxed competitively at any level — amateur or professional.
“Our sport might not ever recover.”
Mayweather retired from boxing with a 49-0 record following a decision triumph over Andre Berto in September 2015. He recently ended his retirement to pursue a fight against “The Notorious” one. While McGregor has never had a professional boxing bout, the UFC lightweight champion has showcased impressive skills with his hands inside the Octagon. Along the way, the Dublin native has established himself as the biggest star in the sport.
“I fully understand the initial attraction from any fan of combat sports. McGregor is almost certainly the best pound-for-pound MMA fighter. Floyd is Floyd — the most dominant boxer of his time,” De La Hoya wrote.
“But success in one sport does not guarantee success in another. Far from it. And let’s be clear, these are two different sports -- from the size of the gloves fighters wear, to the size and shape of the ring, to the fact the one sport allows combatants to use their legs to strike.”
While McGregor could be in over his head against an all-time great in boxing, the box-office appeal of such a fight is undeniable. Regardless of how competitive the bout might be, plenty of people would tune in for the spectacle. De La Hoya, meanwhile, is promoting a blockbuster bout of his own later in 2017, when Canelo Alvarez takes on Gennady Golovkin at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Sept. 16. He disputes the notion that he is against Mayweather-McGregor because it might take attention away from Alvarez vs. Golovkin.
“Now, I know critics will say that I’m only writing this letter because my company is promoting what will be the culmination of an outstanding boxing year when Canelo Alvarez takes on Gennady “GGG” Golovkin in September, and I don’t want anything to distract attention away from that fight,” he wrote. “But my interest is in the health of boxing as a whole. It always has been. And if Floyd were to come out of retirement to take on someone like Keith “One–time” Thurman, Errol Spence or some other top welterweight, not only would I applaud the fight, I’d be the first one on line for a ticket. That kind of fight is what the fans – and I am a fan first -- deserve.”
UFC President Dana White recently said that he had completed McGregor’s portion of the deal for the fight and would begin negotiations with Team Mayweather. How those talks progress remains to be seen, but if an agreement is reached it would be a financial windfall for both men. McGregor would most certainly make more than he ever has in his UFC career.
“Floyd’s and Conor’s motivation is clear. It’s money. In fact, they don’t even pretend it’s not. But it’s also a lack of consequences for when the fight ends up being the disaster that is predicted. After this fight, neither of them will need us anymore. Floyd will go back to retirement -- presumably for good this time with another nine-figure paycheck -- and Conor will go back to the UFC,” De La Hoya wrote. “It’s a win-win for them. It’s a lose-lose for us. We’ll be $100 lighter and we will have squandered another opportunity to bring boxing back to its rightful place as the sport of kings.”
De La Hoya’s full letter can be viewed below: