Oscar De La Hoya on Travis Barker Raising His Daughter Atiana: 'He Stepped Up to the Plate' (Exclusive)

De La Hoya spoke to ET ahead of his documentary, 'The Golden Boy,' dropping on HBO.

It's been nearly two years since Oscar De La Hoya said he has "nothing but respect" for Travis Barker after one of his Instagram followers -- during an "Ask Me Anything" session -- asked the boxing great how he feels about the Blink-182 drummer raising his daughter, Atiana De La Hoya.

Now, for the first time since offering the succinct laudation, De La Hoya is opening up like never before to ET about not raising his kids, extolling the mother of his children and elevating Barker for being an admirable father figure to Atiana, whom De La Hoya shares with former beauty queen Shanna Moakler.

In a wide-ranging conversation with the renowned boxing promoter in San Antonio, Texas, ahead of the premiere of his two-part HBO documentary, The Golden Boy, De La Hoya found himself at peace admitting he was, for lack of a better word, an absentee father, and he's now, as he says, giving "credit where credit is due."

"Look, I didn't raise my kids, you know? Their moms did. And I have to give credit where credit is due," De La Hoya tells ET. "I'm grateful that Barker was there, you know, as a father figure for my daughter. I have to be grateful that Shanna was a mother to Atiana, and just know my place, basically, you know? My place -- I'm obviously a father, and I'm proud of it. But, again, I'm grateful for what they've done. Especially with Barker. He's obviously stepped up to the plate."

De La Hoya and Moakler, a former Miss USA, welcomed Atiana in 1999. De La Hoya and Moakler eventually split -- after she saw him on TV in September 2000 attending the Latin GRAMMYs with another woman -- and Atiana was only five years old when Moakler married Barker in October 2004.

In the years that followed, Atiana and Barker formed a strong bond, which is why so many on the outside looking in often say, without hesitation, that Barker raised Atiana. And they've remained close even after Barker and Moakler divorced in 2008 after three years of marriage. Barker, who is now married to Kourtney Kardashian, also shares son Landon, 19, and daughter Alabama, 17, with Moakler.

De La Hoya says he's also in communication with the ink-covered drummer, whom he has nothing but praise for.

"He's such a nice guy," De La Hoya says of Barker. "I have the utmost respect for him."

He adds, "He's a good guy. I've talked to him several times. And we communicate about Atiana. I'm just grateful for what he's done."

De La Hoya also has two sons -- Jacob, 25, and Devon, 24 -- from previous relationships with Toni Alvarado and Angelicque McQueen, respectively. And he has three children -- son Oscar, 17, daughter Nina, 14, and daughter Victoria, 9 -- with Puerto Rican singer and actress Milagros "Millie" Corretjer, whom De La Hoya married in October 2001. They split in 2016, but De La Hoya only recently (in January) filed for divorce.

De La Hoya has become a different person, a "liberated" person, since overcoming his demons and confronting them head on in the Fernando Villena-directed documentary, The Golden Boy -- his substance abuse, multiple stints in rehab, womanizing, the fallout from that 2007 photo of him in women's clothing, the "twisted" relationship he had with his mother, Cecilia, who died from breast cancer in 1990 -- and, perhaps most importantly, is a better father.

De La Hoya's been open up about his mother being physically abusive and being raised by an emotionally hardened father, Joel Sr., who displayed almost zero emotion the day Cecilia died. But at 50, De La Hoya vows to be different.

"I would never touch my kids," he says. "Every single time I see my kids, 'I love you.' I'll kiss them on the cheek."

As for the "machismo" -- or masculine pride -- that was pervasive for generations, De La Hoya proudly says, "It's broken. The spell is broken."

And it's broken because he's learned to forgive his mother, whom he says was physically abusive almost on a daily basis. Though he says she was abusive only to him, not his two other siblings -- older brother Joel Jr. and younger sister Ceci.

"With my mother, I actually set myself free recently, a couple of years ago, I forgave her. I had to forgive her," De La Hoya says. "I had to forgive her and convince myself that it was OK. Some person gave me this advice: If you can forgive your worst enemy, then you set yourself free. So, I almost felt like my mom was my worst enemy because of the lack of love."

"When I set myself free it's like, 'I'm OK now.' But I did a lot of work. I did a lot of work," he continues. "Therapy. Rehabs. A lot of drinking and crying. All that s**t we do. So, now that I finally did that and set myself free, it’s relieving. I can finally live my life at peace."

But to be a better father, De La Hoya had to square things with his 84-year-old father -- which he eventually did.

"A few years ago I garnered up the courage to tell him I love him. For the first time," De La Hoya shares. "I was hesitant because I thought, man, maybe he’s gonna hit me or something. 'What?! You love me?! What?!' You know? But I told him 'I love you,' and you know what he did? He started crying. 'I love you too.' I mean, it's the only time I heard it -- since. But it's a great start." 

The Golden Boy premieres July 24 on HBO, with Part Two airing the next day.