Last weekend Oscar De La Hoya showed his face in public at a sporting event for the first time since he had it pounded in by Manny Pacquiao in December. Of course, it wasn’t where most people would have figured Oscar would show up. Considering that his good friend and business partner Shane Mosley was fighting Antonio Margarito for the welterweight title in Los Angeles, you would have thought Oscar would be in attendance to show his support.
Instead, De La Hoya was down the street in Anaheim attending Affliction: Day of Reckoning, where Fedor Emelianenko was knocking out Andrei Arlovski in the first round as he continued his “Knock Out All The Former UFC Heavyweight Champions Tour.” But why was De La Hoya at the Affliction show instead of supporting his good friend Mosley? Well, if you were to ask Larry Merchant it’s because Affliction was paying Oscar $5 million to be there.
On Saturday’s HBO telecast, analyst Larry Merchant added another reason when he said De La Hoya was paid $5 million to appear at the Affliction: Day of Reckoning mixed martial arts card just down the road in Anaheim, Calif.
“A celebrity who is here in bronze only, Oscar De La Hoya, [while] the live version is in nearby Anaheim, where his company got a $5 million fee from a T-shirt maker so that he would be personally involved the promotion of a mixed martial arts show,” Merchant said.
“I was curious whether Oscar would make his first public appearance at a fight since Pacquiao, so I asked [Golden Boy Productions CEO] Richard Schaefer whether he would be there,” said Merchant about what he asked Schaefer at the prefight news conference Thursday. “Richard told me that Oscar was going to be at the MMA event because a $5 million sponsorship by the T-shirt company included his personal involvement.”
Golden Boy Productions and Affliction announced a partnership back in December in which Golden Boy will help set up and promote the fights since Affliction doesn’t have a promoter’s license, and Affliction would handle the paying of the purses. So what’s the big deal about Oscar getting $5 million from them if they’re partners?
Well, $5 million is $1.7 million more than all the fighters on the card got combined while the gate brought in only $1.5 million, though that was before factoring in the pay-per-view. Still, Affliction’s VP Tom Atencio denies that De La Hoya was ever paid and points out that their date was set long before the Mosley-Margarito fight was moved to Los Angeles on the same date.
“It is not true and it is, in fact, 100 percent false,” Atencio said of the alleged payment to De La Hoya. “Oscar was involved with this from the beginning with our partnership. He’s a good partner and he honored his agreement. Our date was set before the Margarito-Mosley date. Richard went to the boxing and Oscar honored his word and came to our show. That’s what a good partner does and Oscar and Richard are good partners.”
So which side is telling the truth? I don’t know for sure but I’m leaning towards Affliction and De La Hoya here. It wouldn’t make sense for Affliction to give him $5 million just to attend an event his company is already a partner in, so maybe Larry Merchant just misunderstood what Schaefer told him before the fight. Maybe he meant that Oscar got $5 million from Affliction as a part of the deal back in December when they joined forces, or maybe Merchant was just bitter that even De La Hoya realizes MMA is way more entertaining than boxing, so he thought he’d try to bring him down.