All ears on Oscar De La Hoya and Donald Trump as the center stage seems set for a bout of verbal strings between leading presidential candidate and a renowned Hall of Fame boxer.
As Associated Press would put it, “It’s safe to say that we’ve just witnessed the first public schoolyard feud.”
Oscar De La Hoya called Donald Trump a golf cheat, but he does not stop there.
He said the presumptive Republican presidential nominee would attend the fight he’s promoting on Saturday at the new T-Mobile Arena.
Trump not only trumped up De La Hoya’s allegations, he went a bit further.
He said he never played golf with him and isn’t planning to attend the Canelo Alvarez-Amir Khan pay-per-view bout.
After Trump’s denials, De La Hoya appeared on TMZ and insisted his story was 100-percent true, even though it seems like some aspects of his story don’t check out (more to come on that).
No matter who’s telling the truth, it doesn’t seem to do the one thing that De La Hoya most should be focusing on this week: Selling as many pay-per-views as possible at 70 bucks a pop.
Sure, De La Hoya’s allegation and Trump’s emphatic response have gotten people talking.
And in every story about their battle is the note that Alvarez and Khan will fight for the WBC middleweight title live on pay-per-view.
But does the He-cheats-No-I-don’t-You’re-lying-No-I’m-not compel anyone – a single person – to buy the pay-per-view who wasn’t already planning to buy it?
It’s hardly a surprise that De La Hoya would drag the name of the one person who has become somewhat notorious among those two groups.
All these while promoting a pay-per-view boxing match between a Mexican and a Muslim!
Trump is a long-time boxing fan who as recently as last year showed up in Madison Square Garden to watch Gennady Golovkin fight.
He’s angered many Mexicans and Muslims (as well as many others) with comments he’s made on the campaign trail.
He particularly incensed De La Hoya, a first-generation Mexican-American, with his repeated intention to build a wall on the border of the U.S. and Mexico.
And Trump has angered many by calling for a temporary ban on Muslim immigrants.
So not long after De La Hoya matched Alvarez, the red-headed Mexican, with Khan, the devout Muslim, he invited Trump to attend the fight.
Last week, he formalized it while appearing on Fox Business News, offering Trump two ringside tickets.
“We have an opportunity to show Mr. Trump just what Mexicans and Muslims can achieve, and in a city that screams America: Las Vegas,” De La Hoya said to host Neil Cavuto.
“Trump, let me invite you so that you can see what a Mexican and a Muslim can generate.”
The story probably would have died just seconds after De La Hoya walked off the set.
But an off-hand comment he made about Trump last week on Fusion in which he accused Trump of being a cheater on the golf course won’t.
On Tuesday, De La Hoya joined a small group of writers at the MGM Grand to discuss the fight.
But De La Hoya took it very seriously, as reported by Tim Dahlberg of the Associated Press.
De La Hoya said the two played at Trump National Golf Club in Los Angeles.
On the first hole, De La Hoya said Trump hit two balls into the water and a third out-of-bounds.
Trump’s fourth, De La Hoya said, went into a bush.
Donald, what he does is he tees off first so we go off to our balls and what do we see but Donald Trump right in the middle of the fairway.
He said, ‘Hey look, I found my first ball.’
De La Hoya said Trump hit his ball into a bush on the par-3 second, but when they got to the green, Trump’s ball somehow showed up next to the hole.
It shows something about his character. Golf is a gentleman’s sport. You don’t lie about your score, you don’t lie about moving your ball.
It goes to show what we’re dealing with.
There are a few problems with De La Hoya’s account.
First, a map of the course shows there is no water on the first hole at Trump National Los Angeles that would be reachable from the tee, though there is water around the green on the par-4.
Secondly, the second hole is not a par-3, as De La Hoya said, but a par-5.
Trump spoke to Dahlberg on Thursday and denied De La Hoya’s allegations.
“Not only didn’t I cheat, I didn’t play with him. I have never played a round of golf with this guy.”
Trump went on to say he wouldn’t play with De La Hoya and made a joke about De La Hoya wearing “stockings around their face.”
It was a reference to an incident several years ago when photographs of De La Hoya in fishnet stockings and a wig appeared online.
At Wednesday’s final news conference, De La Hoya said he had just been told that Trump would attend the fight.
A few hours later, Trump tweeted that he wasn’t going.
De La Hoya, though, is hardly alone in accusing Trump of cheating at golf.
Actor Samuel L. Jackson and rocker Alice Cooper accused him of the same thing.
And Trump denied he’d played with either man.
A Washington Post story investigating Trump’s history of cheating quoted a caddie saying it was common for the caddies to take Trump’s ball out of trouble and move it back into the fairway.
So who’s right here, Trump or De La Hoya?
We may never know for sure.
What we will know sometime next week, though, is whether accusing a presidential candidate of cheating at golf helps a boxing promoter sell pay-per-views.