Oscar De La Hoya arrived back in the United States yesterday after a seven-day visit to with our troops fighting in the Middle East. He was accompanied by up-and-coming fighters Adrien Broner, Danny Jacobs and Seth Mitchell. They toured Kuwait and Iraq locations, mixed it up with the soldiers and conducted boxing clinics.
De La Hoya is an Olympic gold medal winner and a former ten-time champion in six different weight classes. He knows something about fighting but he got his lessons in what it means to fight with weaponry other than boxing gloves.
Prior to the trip, Oscar couldn't even reveal when he and his group would take off, never mind where he expected to be. The visit took them to visit eight military bases. Among some of the installations visited were Camp Arifjan, COB Basra, Camp Victory, Camp Liberty, JSS Loyalty and JSS Justice.
If he ever wondered whether our fighting men and women would be interested in meeting him and coming out to see the boxers, doubts were erased quickly. Most telling of the group's popularity was seen at Camp Victory, where more than 600 troops turned out to attend a USO boxing demonstration featuring the fighters.
Despite the tour coming to a close, its impact on De La Hoya and the others were felt once they returned home. "You don't realize what it means to be a participant in our military efforts and the sacrifices each one of them is making to fight for and protect our freedom until you see it first-hand," De La Hoya said upon landing.
"The opportunity to see how our troops live and understand their ability to be ready for anything at a moment's notice showed me what it means to be truly brave," he added.
De La Hoya comes home to a bundle of issues at his Los Angeles based business, Golden Boy Promotions. Like trying to hold on to Juan Manuel Marquez a marquee fighter for his company. He is agitating for a shot at Manny Pacquiao, a fight that he has been unable to secure while under contract to Golden Boy. With his contract nearing its conclusion, Marquez, a big box office draw, might just jump ship to hated competitor Bob Arum and his Top Rank Promotions who handled Manny to get him closer to him..
Just today, Golden Boy announced the signing of Nonito Donaire, Jr. the exciting bantamweight and holder of the WBC and WBO belt in that division. Donaire dispatched with Fernando Montiel in less than two full rounds, only last month. He is being touted as the "next big thing" which in boxing is the designation as the pound-for-pound king of the sport. Right now that designation goes to Manny Pacquaio, a countryman from the Philippines.
Only this week, it was believed that Donaire was still under contract to Arum's Top Rank and an upgrade in purses was being discussed for the fighter's next bout. With today's stunning announcement, it is unclear if law suits will be filed, along with fur flying over the latest move by Golden Boy. Good thing that De La Hoya is full of good cheer and love of mankind. He'll need that in the immediate future.