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Oscar De La Hoya's reckless return to the ring is a disaster waiting to happen

Yahoo Sports US logo Yahoo Sports US 7/28/2021 Kevin Iole

Oscar De La Hoya is one of the great boxers who ever lived. Boxing would be in a much better place if both the fighters and the promoters had the attitude that he has: He’s always been about fighting the best.

He sought the best competition he could when he was a fighter, and for all his other flaws as a promoter, the one thing he has consistently done is to match his fighters tough.

He’s delusional, though, if he thinks that at 48 years old and after 13 years away from the game that he can step back in as an active fighter and challenge the likes of Saul "Canelo" Alvarez and/or Gennadiy Golovkin.

At a news conference Tuesday in Los Angeles to announce his Sept. 11 fight with ex-UFC star Vitor Belfort, De La Hoya told ESPN’s Marc Raimondi that he would be up to fighting Alvarez, the consensus No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world.

“It’s just power,” De La Hoya said, dismissively. “I have a good chin.”

He said it with a straight face, as he has numerous times over the last year or so since he came up with the idea of a comeback.

He’s not serious, though. He can’t be. And he’s giving you the clue you need to realize that, if you just look hard enough.

If De La Hoya were serious about boxing and fighting the game’s elite fighters as he’s repeatedly said, he wouldn’t be fighting a 44-year-old MMA fighter in his comeback fight.

Belfort is 1-3 with a no-contest in his last five fights, and he’d be 1-4 if a first-round TKO loss to Kelvin Gastelum wasn’t overturned because Gastelum had smoked marijuana prior to the fight.

He’s also had exactly one boxing match in his career, more than 15 years ago. Fighting a guy who isn’t a boxer, who hasn’t had a fight of any kind in more than three years and who was on the downside of his career when he last fought isn’t a way to prepare oneself for the Alvarezes or Golovkins of the world.

No commission in the country would sanction De La Hoya-Alvarez no matter how many MMA fighters and/or YouTube stars he beats up.

Oscar De La Hoya posing for the camera: Oscar De La Hoya, 48, should stick to promoting fights instead of participating in them. (Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images) © Provided by Yahoo! Sports Oscar De La Hoya, 48, should stick to promoting fights instead of participating in them. (Photo by Valery Sharifulin\TASS via Getty Images)

In December, De La Hoya spoke to BoxingScene about fighting Golovkin and expressed no concerns.

“You know how easy GGG would be for me? Oh, my gosh,” De La Hoya told Boxing Scene. “It would be a high-profile fight, that’s for sure. I always took a good shot and I always took apart fighters like him. In my mind it would be that easy. I would definitely consider it, that’s for sure.”

Golovkin responded by saying, “You know Oscar, you know how dirty his mouth is. Everything involving Gennadiy Golovkin for him is a nightmare. He can say whatever. But let me put it this way: If I got an opportunity to legally kill a person in the ring, I might seize it.”

With that comment, De La Hoya’s public flirtation with fighting Golovkin ended.


Now Alvarez, whom he once promoted until an acrimonious split, is his target.

But it's salesmanship. If he makes people think he’s serious about getting back into it, he can increase sales on the pay-per-view portion of the fight. How better for him to convince people he’s serious than by calling out the best in the world, particularly when there is no love lost between them?

It’s all fun and games, except that boxing is no sport to play. And other retired fighters will see the money and the attention that De La Hoya gets from this fight and want some of that for themselves. And then they come back and it doesn’t end well. They get hurt, or worse.

Fifty-year-olds do not belong in professional fights with extremely rare exceptions (I see you, Bernard Hopkins). It’s a disaster waiting to happen.

De La Hoya has battled many demons in his life and has struggled with drugs and alcohol. He sees boxing as something of a therapy, but he can accomplish that by training and keeping himself fit. Thousands of adults use boxing training that way.

But it’s reckless beyond belief to come back to fight real fighters at 48 years old and 14 or more years since he was last truly competitive.

This is a bad idea that can only get worse if promoters look at him as an ATM instead of a human with all the faults, foibles and problems that we all battle each day.

Hopefully, this fight with Belfort is one and done and isn’t anything more than a playful way to make a couple of bucks.

I don’t even want to think of what may happen if it’s not.

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