De La Hoya to put marketing muscle behind USA Boxing

Updated: July 8, 2008, 5:43 PM ET
Associated Press

The Golden Boy is putting his muscle behind the U.S. Olympic boxing team.

Oscar De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions announced a strategic alliance with USA Boxing on Tuesday, reuniting the 1992 gold medalist and his sport's once-beleaguered national governing body.

Golden Boy Promotions will lend its considerable industry clout to USA Boxing in marketing, event scheduling and sponsorships, USA Boxing CEO Jim Millman said in a joint announcement with Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer.

De La Hoya also announced plans to spend time working with the Olympic fighters and other athletes in Colorado Springs, where the U.S. boxers are down to their last two weeks of preparation for next month's trip to the Beijing Games.

"The more success he can have at Golden Boy, the more it helps the whole sport," Millman said in a recent interview with The Associated Press, when the partnership still was in planning stages. "I think they've put forward a tremendously high-integrity approach to event promotion, so it spills over to all of us. He's doing his job, and we're very supportive of the whole Golden Boy direction right now."

De La Hoya's high-profile run to the only American gold medal in Barcelona jump-started his lucrative pro career, which includes major titles in six weight divisions.

Yet few recent fighters, including 2004 gold medalist Andre Ward, could hope for that boost of popularity and attention from the Olympics, given boxing's overall decline in prominence and USA Boxing's management woes.

Millman, a longtime sports marketing executive, was named USA Boxing's seventh CEO in six years last summer. While fixing the organization's financial problems and restructuring its approach to both the Olympics and its grass-roots growth, Millman also sought to renew its ties with De La Hoya, one of the most successful alumni of a team that's sent Cassius Clay, Sugar Ray Leonard, Evander Holyfield, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and countless more superstars to the Olympics.

"Unlike the NFL or the PGA Tour, where you may have 100 great alumni that can get engaged, in our sport, you probably can count on two hands the really great, role-model people who are available to support the sport," said Millman, who also has engaged Holyfield in various USA Boxing ventures. "It's something that we want to do more of."

Golden Boy plans to use its connections with arena-management giant AEG to get USA Boxing's events in bigger, more visible venues in upcoming years. They'll team up on media production as well, with Golden Boy planning to use Ring Magazine -- which De La Hoya recently bought -- to provide more attention for the team.

"USA Boxing events were important benchmarks in the early development of Oscar's career," Schaefer said. "His Olympic gold medal was one of the greatest moments in Olympic history. We are greatly looking forward to working with USA Boxing during these exciting years of its development."

The U.S. team heading to Beijing has several legitimate medal hopes, including two world champions: welterweight Demetrius Andrade and flyweight Rau'shee Warren, a two-time Olympian.

De La Hoya repeatedly has said he will fight just once more before retiring and devoting himself full-time to Golden Boy.

After a planned September bout with Mayweather was scrapped by Mayweather's abrupt retirement, De La Hoya said he'll finish his career in December. He hopes to fight unbeaten welterweight champion Miguel Cotto, or a rematch with Felix Trinidad.


Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press