March 5. This Date in Boxing History: The Golden Boy Re-animates the Olympic Auditorium
When Bob Arum promotes a building-block fight, he looks to gird it with a good storyline. It was a foregone conclusion that Oscar de la Hoya would upend Denmark's Jimmi Bredahl when they met on March 5, 1994, so Arum puffed up the promotion by anchoring it an an iconic venue. The bout marked the return of boxing to the Olympic Auditorium after an absence of more than six years.
The Olympic Auditorium in central Los Angeles opened in 1925. From the very beginning, it was identified with boxing. In time, the identification became more narrow: Mexican and Mexican-American boxers and their ardent fans.
Architecturally, the Olympic was as plain as a warehouse. Inside, the joint smelled of liniment and stale cigarette smoke. But the seats above the floor were steeply-tiered, putting the fans in the cheap seats close to the action. In the event of an unpopular decision, a fellow sitting up front was advised to take cover.
Oscar de la Hoya was a natural fit. The high school that he attended was two miles down the road. At this early stage of his career, virtually everything written about him was complimentary. He was portrayed as a humble young man true to his blue-collar roots.
The fight was devoid of drama save whether the game but out-gunned Dane would last the distance. He didn't. The ring doctor called a halt after the 10th round. De la Hoya fought here once more, but his appearances did not augur the promised rebirth. Fights were held here sporadically over the next few years and then hardly at all until the building was sold to a Korean church group.
If there was one discordant note, it was that Michael Buffer handled the ring introductions. Buffer is at the head of his class, but the occasion called for Don King's guy, Jimmy Lennon Jr.
Folks old enough to remember will tell you that Jimmy is the spitting image of his late father. If they were the same age, you would guess they were twins. The late Jimmy Lennon Sr. became the ring announcer at the Olympic in 1950 and was the golden voice of LA boxing for more than four decades.