De La Hoya trying to turn Brooklyn golden
Oscar De La Hoya will forever be linked with Las Vegas, where the Golden Boy won a fistful of world titles and enough money to last a lifetime.
Now he wants to become synonymous with the fertile boxing grounds of Brooklyn.
The former champion made a trip from Golden Boy Promotions’ base on the West Coast earlier this week to lead a youth clinic at Gleason’s Gym, the iconic second-story hangout that serves as the unofficial epicenter of New York City boxing. The trip also allowed De La Hoya to be seen in New York City, where his promotional company is working hard to build a presence.
”I feel that Brooklyn boxing deserves the opportunity to create champions, and when you see all these kids training at Gleason’s Gym, you can see the glimmer in their eye,” De La Hoya said Tuesday. ”They want to be like us, they want to be world champions.”
The centerpiece of Golden Boy Promotions’ thrust into the New York market is its recent agreement with Brooklyn Sports & Entertainment to bring at least a dozen shows each year to the New Jersey Nets’ future home, the 18,000-seat Barclays Center in Brooklyn.
But the company has also signed veteran Brooklyn fighter Paulie Malignaggi, is developing another hot prospect from the borough in Danny Jacobs, and is even considering whether the Los Angeles-based company should establish an office in New York.
”Take over is not the right word,” Golden Boy chief executive Richard Schaefer said, when asked to describe the company’s goals. ”We’re going to aggressively pursue any and all avenues.”
That may not sit well with rival promoters who have had a lock on the market for years.
Golden Boy has primarily operated in Nevada and California, with some forays into Europe, but has largely ignored the East Coast. That all changed in the past couple years, when the company staged a successful show at Madison Square Garden’s theater featuring Malignaggi – at the time promoted by Lou DiBella – and junior welterweight titleholder Amir Khan.
Now, there are plenty more events planned for the Barclays Center, which is scheduled to open in 2012 as part of the long-awaited 22-acre Atlantic Yards development.
The design of the arena will work well for boxing, with numerous configurations to trim the seating capacity to about 4,000 for smaller shows. The video boards hanging over center court will allow for replays and the relatively low level of luxury suites are also a draw.
Perhaps the biggest thing going for the arena, though, is its location.
The borough across the East River from Manhattan has produced numerous world champions, from Malignaggi and Zab Judah to Mike Tyson and Riddick Bowe. It was also home to Ebbets Field, which hosted nearly 90 fight cards outdoors before it was torn down, and small shows are still held at places like the Aviator Sports and Events Center.
”I’m very excited about his Brooklyn thing, about Golden Boy bringing boxing back,” said Malignaggi, the former champion who made his move to Golden Boy official this week.
Added Jacobs, the rising middleweight contender: ”This is very exciting for me, for boxing to be back in Brooklyn. It’s always been my dream to win a world title, but to win a world title in Brooklyn, in front of my people, that would really be something.”
Golden Boy envisions a variety of fights at Barclays Center, from the Golden Gloves – which has a rich history in New York City – to smaller professional cards featuring local fighters, much like the ”Fight Night Club” events that it holds at the Nokia Theater in Los Angeles.
And of course, there will be high-profile matchups in the arena when the opportunity arises.
”When everyone around you is jealous, it’s usually a good thing,” Schaefer said, referring to animosity that might emanate from rival promoters. ”It means you’re really onto something.”