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Leonard Ellerbe: I know ‘for a fact’ Oscar De La Hoya didn’t want Ryan Garcia to fight Gervonta Davis

Leonard Ellerbe is happy Gervonta Davis vs. Ryan Garcia was booked. With a live gate he said is already in Nevada’s top-10 and a “sky is the limit” pay-per-view estimate, it’s not hard to see why.

Ellerbe is the CEO of Mayweather Promotions and is assisting Davis, the WBA regular champion. For a long time, it looked as though “Tank” and Garcia would never face off inside the ring. Garcia is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions and Oscar De La Hoya, Mayweather and Ellerbe’s longtime rival.

Divisions like those repeatedly torpedo high-profile boxing matches, but Ellerbe credits Garcia – not his promoter – for making the 136-pound catchweight fight a reality on Saturday in Las Vegas.

“It was a little difficult,” Ellerbe said Wednesday on The MMA Hour. “Initially, Ryan agreed to everything. I give him credit, he agreed to everything, every term that we had sent over, he agreed to it. ... There was one stipulation in there. But other than that – and that kind of dragged out because it was a network thing – so that’s [Showtime executive] Steven Espinoza’s area, and we were able to work those details out.

“But it was a really good thing for these two young guys to come together, and the timing of it couldn’t be better, because they’re in the prime of their career. And that’s very, very, very important. ... The time is now, and that’s why it is the biggest fight in all of boxing right now.”

Earlier this year, De La Hoya made a show of Garcia signing his contract to face the unbeaten Davis. But Ellerbe said the retired boxing champ had little actual interest in getting the deal done behind the scenes.

“I know that for a fact,” said Ellerbe. “Oscar is a smart guy as [it] relates to ring intelligence. And this is just my opinion, it’s my opinion on this, this part right here – I have some factual information on some other stuff – but this is my opinion, is that the fight in the ring, I don’t think he thinks that Ryan Garcia can win. That’s just my opinion, though.”

The fact now is that Ellerbe and De La Hoya are in business, uncomfortable as it might be. Ellerbe called De La Hoya a “lying piece of s***” over the retired boxer’s claims of equality in pay-per-view drawing power; he repeatedly claimed De La Hoya tried to get out of the fight. In response, De La Hoya pretended like Ellerbe wasn’t supposed to be there.

“I have no idea what he was talking about,” the retired boxer said at a recent press conference. “I didn’t think he was on Gervonta Davis’ team. I don’t even know what he’s doing here. We had no contact whatsoever with Leonard Ellerbe, or he had no issue whatsoever being involved. So it was a big surprise to me seeing him on the dais there, so I have no clue.”

For the record, Ellerbe said he working directly with Davis, who formed his own promotional company after departing Mayweather Promotions in 2022. And that puts him on the podium – or across it – with De La Hoya, whose grudge with Floyd Mayweather reportedly goes back to the early 2000s when he trained with Floyd Mayweather Sr; Floyd Mayweather Jr. defeated De La Hoya in a 2007 blockbuster.

“We’re working together,” Ellerbe said of De La Hoya. “We don’t like each other, but we’re working together, and it’s OK. Floyd doesn’t like him, and he doesn’t like Floyd. That’s OK – it’s business at the end of the day. They’ve done a good job with promoting him. Eric Gomez and him, they’ve done a really good job with moving his career along. So I got nothing but respect and props there.

“And it’s never personal – it’s just business, and I was glad that Ryan made them do the fight. So let’s be clear on that. Ryan Garcia made them do the fight, because this is not something that Oscar wanted to do.”

Ellerbe is confident that no matter how hard it was to get Garcia and Davis into the ring, the outcome will be in the latter’s favor.

“No doubt, he’ll be the face of boxing,” Ellerbe said of Davis.

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