By: Sean Crose
Hyperbolic as it may seem, they called him the “Golden Boy” for a reason. Winner of an Olympic Gold Medal, winner of major professional titles in six divisions, a pay per view superstar, a singer, and a top promoter, Oscar De La Hoya inarguably compiled quite the resume for himself. It’s the 35-6 ring career that most people know De La Hoya by, however. Simultaneously skilled and powerful, the California native fought, and often bested, a who’s who of the fight game’s biggest names from 1992-2008. Julio Caesar Chavez, Felix Trinidad, Bernard Hopkins, Shane Mosley, Floyd Mayweather, and Manny Pacquiao have all shared the ring with De La Hoya. It’s hard to imagine a more impressive line up of opponents.
And now we learn that, at 47 years of age, De La Hoya wants more. “I miss being in the ring,” he told ESPN’s Steve Kim. “I love boxing. Boxing is what gave me everything I have today, and I just miss it.” Unlike Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr, De La Hoya isn’t interested in an exhibition match – he wants to jump right back into the professional ranks.
There is legitimate reason for concern. Closer to 50 than to 40, De La Hoya hasn’t fought in well over a decade. What’s more, his last ring battle, a 2008 wipeout at the hands of the rising Manny Pacquiao, was brutal enough to make it almost hard to watch today. Yet De La Hoya appears determined, albeit with some conditions. “I have to make sure that my conditioning is perfect, my health is good,” Kim quotes De La Hoya as saying. “And that’s going to take place in the next few weeks. So we’ll see.” The “so we’ll see” portion of that quote may serve as some comfort to those fearful for the man’s safety.
Still, De La Hoya’s willingness to “fight any guy out there,” as he told Kim, has raised eyebrows. For “out there” are fighters who could possibly hurt an opponent approaching 50 years of age in a serious manner. There’s also individuals “out there” who would jump at the opportunity to fight a lucrative opponent with such an age disadvantage as De La Hoy will have. It’s the easy fight/big money allure that has led so many boxers to call out UFC star Conor McGregor, after all. In fact, some feel that De La Hoya himself may be targeting McGregor in his return.