It all started with a photo on social media. Current WBO welterweight champ Terence Crawford was posed between Golden Boy Promotions founder Oscar De La Hoya and Golden Boy exec Bernard Hopkins during a reported visit to Golden Boy offices.
Then, speculation ran wild, with De La Hoya serving as the motor for that push.
“He just wanted to come and say hi to two legends, me and Hopkins, and just showed him some love. Terence Crawford, the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world,” De La Hoya told Fight Hub TV after his fighter Alexis Rocha stopped George Ashie in Saturday’s main event at YouTube Theater in Inglewood, California. “And we’re looking forward to further our discussions so maybe we can make a Rocha vs Crawford fight.
“We can deliver whatever fights he wants. He’s the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world now so it’s a matter of just strategizing, sitting down with him again, I have a good feeling that he liked what he heard today with me and Hopkins.
“We can get him and (Alexis) Rocha, him and Vergil (Ortiz), and even him and Errol Spence. So this is the way we work with other promoters and we want to make things happen. We want to make 2023 the biggest year for boxing. So I’m going after everybody. I’m back, baby. I am back!
“I wouldn’t mind watching Terence with Rocha — that’s the fight. And then we have Vergil, and why not sit down with PBC and finally figure out Spence.”
Rocha, who is currently ranked no. 3 in the WBO and may be one of the top available contenders for Crawford’s title at the moment anyway, was eager to get the shot.
“I’m ready for the big names,” Rocha said told DAZN’s Chris Mannix in his post-fight interview, moments after crushing his Ghanaian foe in the seventh round. “Errol Spence doesn’t want to fight Crawford for some reason. He’s fighting [former unified WBC/WBA welterweight titlist Keith] Thurman. I’m next in the WBO, I want Crawford next.
“[Crawford] is the fight that I want next, let’s go…Everyone always asks me if I’m ready. I won’t know until I’m in there with him. I’m ready for the big names. I know whoever I fight, I’m gonna take it up every level, every step.”
Even before Rocha stepped into the ring, the Golden Boy figurehead was laying the groundwork for a Golden Boy-Crawford tie-in.
“He [Crawford] wants to fight the big fights, against Errol Spence. I told him, ‘We can make that fight happen,’” De La Hoya told Chris Mannix prior to Rocha-Ashie. “Ryan Garcia versus Tank Davis is going to open a lot of doors for us that will lead to us doing business with PBC.
“I told Crawford, ‘Let us present to you a schedule of fights leading up to Spence.’ I have all the confidence in the world that Crawford versus Spence will happen…
“We did discuss a Rocha fight,” De La Hoya added. “I think it’s a big possibility. He’s number three in the world. Rocha versus Crawford, who knows.”
The play from Golden Boy’s side seems simple. Bring Crawford into the fold for a bout with Rocha, which, honestly, would likely result in a decisive victory for the much more talented, polished, and accomplished Crawford. Then, they could position their top welterweight Vergil Ortiz Jr. for a bout with Crawford. In the case of Crawford-Ortiz, the strong and talented Ortiz would have a legitimate shot at scoring an upset that would position him as the next top dog of the 147 lb. class. And even if Ortiz lost, Golden Boy would still have at least a pleasant working relationship with Crawford that could lead to future team-ups.
Or that picture could just be a picture.
Fight fans will find out soon enough if there was some fire behind that photo-op smoke.