By Keith Idec
Oscar De La Hoya has drawn his promotional line in the sand.
On the opposite side stands Bob Arum, his former promoter and current competitor. Who else would it be based on their longstanding love-hate relationship?
Arum and De La Hoya seemingly agree on most things pertaining to putting together an intriguing Vasyl Lomachenko-Jorge Linares lightweight title fight.
De La Hoya, whose company co-promotes Linares (44-3, 27 KOs), contends he has no problem with Linares fighting Lomachenko (10-1, 8 KOs), even if the fight must be broadcast by ESPN. Golden Boy Promotions does its most profitable business with HBO, but De La Hoya’s company also has a lower-profile series that airs on ESPN.
Golden Boy president Eric Gomez, fellow co-promoter Akihiko Honda and Arum’s Top Rank Inc. even have agreed to financial terms, despite that they started far apart, for Ukraine’s Lomachenko to make his lightweight debut against Venezuela’s Linares, the WBA 135-pound champion.
They’re all fine as well with Arum’s proposed site, Madison Square Garden.
The primary problem, one that could very well prevent Lomachenko-Linares from taking place next, is the date.
As Arum first told BoxingScene.com on Tuesday, Lomachenko must fight May 12 because that’s the date on which ESPN executives have told him they want the WBO super featherweight champion to fight. Lomachenko and Terence Crawford are the two most important promotional components to Top Rank’s exclusive ESPN deal, thus Arum wants to accommodate the request of the television partner paying plenty of money to air his company’s fights.
That date won’t work for Golden Boy because HBO will air a replay of the Canelo Alvarez-Gennady Golovkin middleweight championship rematch the night of May 12. Alvarez and Golovkin are set to fight again May 5, probably at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
HBO Pay-Per-View replays regularly air the following Saturday night and often are packaged with live boxing.
On May 12, Golden Boy could be the provider of the live fight for HBO. Regardless, De La Hoya doesn’t want to compete against himself by allowing Linares to fight Lomachenko on another network at the same time HBO would air a doubleheader that’ll include the Alvarez-Golovkin rematch.
Arum told BoxingScene.com he was hopeful the telecasts could air at different times May 12, but that apparently won’t happen. The Hall-of-Fame promoter told Yahoo! Sports on Thursday that he blames HBO executive Peter Nelson, a routine target of Arum’s criticism since taking his fighters exclusively to ESPN, for this Lomachenko-Linares standoff.
De La Hoya took to Twitter on Thursday to offer his thoughts on the situation.
Here’s what the retired six-division champion posted through an account that has 1.81 million followers:
1., Over the last days, there has been a lot of rumor and speculation about the potential fight between @JorgeLinares and @VasylLomachenko. The facts are pretty clear.
2., @JorgeLinares wants this fight. @GoldenBoyBoxing wants this fight. Mr. Honda wants this fight. And collectively we are doing everything we can to get these two champions into the ring.
3., We know of no bylaw, Ukrainian holiday or “magic day” in the words of Bob Arum that mandates that @VasylLomachenko can only fight one day during the spring and summer month – May 12th.
4., While @JorgeLinares is happy to fight on any other date of the calendar, if @VasylLomachenko absolutely, positively must fight on the 12th, we have a solution.
5., HBO is willing to pay more for the fight than is currently being offered. And they would do it on May 12th.
6., So, @VasylLomachenko has three options. 1) Fight on May 12th on HBO 2) Fight on any other day on the calendar, 3) walk away from the fight all the fans of the sport want to see. I am hopeful he chooses one of the first two.
De La Hoya’s six Tweets on Thursday were in response in part to what Arum told BoxingScene.com earlier this week and Yahoo! Sports on Thursday.
Arum remained hopeful on Tuesday.
“Right now, we’re going ahead on Lomachenko and Linares,” Arum said. “We have an agreement in principle with [Linares’] lead promoter, Honda, and Carl is working out the details with Eric Gomez. They have a problem with May 12th because it’s the day they’ll show the [replay of] Golovkin-Canelo. But they can put the delay on at any time they want.
“Maybe we can work it out so that they can still get a good audience for that and we can still go ahead [with Lomachenko-Linares] on the 12th. The 12th is very important for us because ESPN wants it for that date because it’s right in the middle of the NBA playoffs. We’d have a tremendous lead-in to a Lomachenko-Linares fight.”
By Thursday, Arum felt Nelson was preventing Lomachenko-Linares from airing on ESPN on May 12.
“You guys [in the media] are always telling us to work with other promotions when we’re doing something,” Arum told Yahoo! Sports. “But what you don’t understand is, this is what happens. You can lay all this on Peter Nelson, with all his machinations. This is what happens. You get other networks involved and they think they’re wise guys and they try to screw it up.
“This is a magic date for ESPN and The Garden has already been reserved for May 12. This is crazy that [HBO would] be doing this kind of thing, with the merger between AT&T and Time Warner [HBO’s parent company] being reviewed by the Justice Department.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.