LOS ANGELES – Oscar De La Hoya was preparing for a comeback fight against Vitor Belfort on Sept. 11 last year, but the Hall of Fame fighter was derailed from his master plan when he contracted COVID-19 eight days before his scheduled bout.
The Golden Boy teased an eventual return to the ring after the fight cancellation, but months later, and days after celebrating his 49th birthday, the six-division champion and boxing icon is calling it quits once again.
“I can’t imagine myself in the ring anymore. I’m hanging up the gloves for sure and calling it a day,” De La Hoya told BoxingScene.com in an interview.
“It’s not likely [I will fight again]. I’m not feeling it. I went through so much in training. I was on it. When I trained, I left everything and my focus was 100%. It just drained me. I couldn't handle it. Once I got COVID, I still have problems breathing when I’m running.”
In November, De La Hoya said he planned on resuming training in January, but he ultimately had a change of heart.
De La Hoya credited his developing relationship with girlfriend Holly Sonders as one of the reasons he no longer seeks refuge via boxing.
“I feel complete now. I have six projects aside from boxing that I’m working on right now that are huge – mega. I’ve refocused. I have the energy. I have a woman by my side who makes me feel like King Kong,” said De La Hoya. “It’s motivating. It really is. I can’t wait to see what’s going to happen with Golden Boy and my personal brand. Things are moving in the right direction. I’m really excited about it.”
The 1992 Olympics gold medalist finished his 16-year career with a record of 39 wins (30 KOs) and 6 losses and won 11 world titles. De La Hoya has not fought professionally since losing to Manny Pacquiao in 2008.
Ahead of the announced Belfort bout, which was set to take place at the then-named Staples Center in Los Angeles, De La Hoya remained adamant that he was finally fighting for himself.
“I want to put the closure. This is my decision. This is what I want. I want to f------- win this fight and go out on top, and have that satisfaction,” he said during a media gathering at Golden Boy headquarters in downtown Los Angeles.
“You try to convince yourself that life is going to get better [after retirement]. Once you're retired and not doing what you love, there's a big hole. Boxing creates the hole, but boxing can cover the hole. I owe everything to boxing, including my life.
“My legacy is already established, and I’m proud of it.”
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com or on www.ManoukAkopyan.com.