For months, Oscar De La Hoya has sworn to anyone who will listen of his plans to one day return to the ring.

The most significant step yet has been taken in that direction.

The Hall of Fame former six-division champion was granted a new boxing Federal ID which was issued in the state of California—the lifelong residence for the East Los Angeles native. The development came in conjunction with De La Hoya’s 48th birthday earlier this month, with the Federal ID valid through February 4, 2025.

De La Hoya would still have to apply for an actual boxing license with whatever state commission would oversee such an event. Such a process will also require extensive medical tests performed given his advanced age for a boxer. Plans for an actual comeback have yet to be solidified or even confirmed, other than de la Hoya repeatedly insisting the day will come when he will once again lace ‘em up.

“The rumors are true and I’m going to start training in the next few weeks,” De La Hoya previously told ESPN.com last summer.

The comments came roughly a month after appearing on the Sports Illustrated Boxing Podcast with Chris Mannix.

“I miss being in the ring,” De La Hoya stated last July. “I love boxing. Boxing is what gave me everything I have today, and I just miss it.”

De La Hoya (39-6, 30KOs) has not fought since Dec. 2008, suffering a one-sided stoppage loss to Manny Pacquiao at age 35 atop an HBO Pay-Per-View event live from MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas.

The bout was his fourth in a comeback which began with a 6th round knockout of Ricardo Mayorga to win the WBC junior middleweight title in May 2006 at MGM Grand. The feat marked the final title fight victory for de la Hoya—known as “The Golden Boy” throughout his boxing career—along with his second reign in the 154-pound division which only lasted through his next fight, a 12-round decision defeat to Floyd Mayweather in their May 2007 superfight which at the time set box-office records at the live gate, PPV sales and revenue. 

De La Hoya’s celebrated ring return in 2006 came 20 months after suffering a 9th round knockout at the hands of Bernard Hopkins in their 2004 undisputed middleweight championship. East De La Hoya claimed the WBO middleweight title in a disputed 12-round decision win over Felix Sturm three months prior but was unable to disrupt the historic reign enjoyed by Hopkins. Soon thereafter, Hopkins would become a partner at Golden Boy Promotions, the promotional company de la Hoya founded in 2002 and named after his ring moniker.

Over the course of his 16-year pro career, De La Hoya established himself as the leading superstar of his generation. The 1992 Olympic Gold medalist went on to win major titles in six weight divisions and still holds the all-time mark for the quickest path to four divisional titles. He accomplished that feat by outpointing welterweight champ and pound-for-pound king Pernell Whitaker in just his 24th pro fight.

At the time of his retirement following the loss to Pacquiao, De La Hoya held the record for having generated the most PPV revenue—roughly $700 million through 14,090,000 units sold from 19 PPV events. Both marks have since been surpassed by Mayweather and Pacquiao, while de la Hoya still ranks ahead the pair of heavyweights he previously surpasses, Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson.

Of the five, only Pacquiao is still identified as an active boxer although the legendary Filipino southpaw has not fought since July 2019. A planned return in 2021 is in the works, with the former eight-division titlist and full-time Philippines senator recently announcing the start of training camp for his next fight but stopping well short of naming an opponent.

Mayweather and Tyson have both taken to the boxing exhibition circuit, each planning to return to such a medium in 2021. Mayweather is planning a non-sanctioned clash with YouTube celebrity and boxing novice Logan Paul, while Tyson is on the hunt for an encore performance to his Triller PPV headliner with fellow all-time great Roy Jones from last November. Holyfield is very much interested in next facing Tyson in an exhibition, with the two having twice fought for real in the 1990s.

De La Hoya is persistent on any such comeback plans taking place in sanctioned bouts against real opposition. He has even called out the likes of middleweight titlist Gennadiy ‘GGG’ Golovkin and four-division champ and pound-for-pound king Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, though such claims were made while still serving as his promoter. The two have since split last November, at which point any such talk immediately died down.

What hasn’t faded away, however, is De La Hoya’s desire to lace ‘em up at least one more time in a real fight. For the next four years, he is now armed with the proper ID to attempt to pursue that goal. 

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox