By Ronnie Nathanielsz
“The Golden Boy” Oscar De La Hoya is undergoing rehabilitation for “substance abuse” in a California facility and according to the website TMZ he did so voluntarily.
The sports and entertainment site which first reported De La Hoya’s problem said the owner of Golden Boy Promotions said he believes he will emerge "a stronger, healthier person."
The boxing world was in a state of minor shock over the news. World Boxing Council president Don Jose Sulaiman’s initial reaction in an overseas telephone conversation with the Daily Inquirer was “Oh my God, is that right.”
Sulaiman noted that De La Hoya was not at the Bernard Hopkins-Jean Pascal rematch on Saturday night in Montreal, Canada which was promoted by Golden Boy.
Sulaiman said “many of the boxers come to a point when they get bored, he gets out of boxing and probably he got pushed into something like this. But what I respect and admire is that he took the decision to go into rehabilitation. That’s a very good sign. I hope he can control that.”
He said De La Hoya “has such a future but if he continues with that addiction he will lose everything.”
Sulaiman noted that legendary Mexican Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. “went into rehab for about eight months and he’s now back very well and we are very proud of him.”
Pound-for pound king Manny Pacquiao’s strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza told BoxingScene.com/Philippine Daily Inquirer “that’s what happens when you are rich and you’re bored, you start to experiment.”
Ariza offered the explanation that De La Hoya “has no motivation” and suggested that “he should go into rehab, get cleaned up and get back into training maybe to fight (Julio Cesar) Chavez Jr.”
The strength and conditioning guru also said that De La Hoya probably hadn’t gotten over the bad beating he suffered at the hands of Manny Pacquiao when De La Hoya quit on his stool after eight rounds and retired from boxing.
TMZ quoted a source close to the boxing legend as saying De La Hoya "voluntarily commenced proactive treatment to address certain health and personal issues."
In a statement issued to TMZ , De La Hoya said "After doing an honest evaluation of myself, I recognize that there are certain issues that I need to work on. Like everyone, I have my flaws, and I do not want to be one of those people that is afraid to admit and address those flaws.”
He went on, “Throughout my career and my life, I have always met all challenges head-on, and this is no different. I am confident that with the support of my family and friends, I will become a stronger, healthier person.
"I ask for respect and privacy as my family and I go through this process."