Six-division world boxing champion Oscar De La Hoya was set for his ring return after a 13-year retirement. “The Golden Boy” was supposed to headline this weekend’s Triller Fight Club event against former UFC champion Vitor Belfort, but a bad case of COVID-19 pulled him out.
The 48-year-old De La Hoya has been back home since Wednesday, and said the disease hit him “really hard.” But despite his visibly worn down condition from his hospital bed, Belfort’s trainer Derik Santos isn’t fully buying into it.
Here’s what Santos told Vegas Insider:
I’m not trying to disrespect Oscar, I saw the video of Oscar, but if I’m being honest, I’m still sceptical [sic]. Something about it didn’t seem right. The level of how bad it looked.
I know you can still get COVID if you’re double vaccinated, but it didn’t seem right. Maybe he realized we were taking the fight seriously, I don’t know.”
As far as I know, their side didn’t try to jump out and reschedule like others have, so yeah, I’m a little skeptical. I think he thought: ‘what have got myself into’ - he even posted this.
We were going in there to give him a very good boxing match. We were ready. If the man does have covid then I wish him a good recovery, I’m just mildly skeptical.
The 44-year-old “Phenom” will now take on 58-year-old legend Evander Holyfield. And while there’s the obvious age disparity, Santos pointed out the former undisputed champ’s size advantage.
It’s going to be interesting, it’s a different type of fight to Oscar. He’s much bigger than Vitor. Not only height but body-wise. The main difference is Oscar is more mobile and we were expecting a different type of movement.
We had worked on different ways to cut off the ring. With Holyfield, it’s going to be more of a dangerous, straight-up fight. He’s a large man, I’m sure he can still punch. So we’ll see how we go about dealing with that.
Vitor was already down in weight, and the great Evander Holyfield, I guarantee you, will likely be somewhere between 225-240 pounds - that’s a big difference. Vitor was under the 200-pound limit already, as the fight with Oscar was going to be 185 pounds. So we are already in the 190s.
Vitor is excited to fight a Hall-of-Famer, Vitor says let’s fight, that’s his take. He’s ready, willing, and able. As a coach, I’m a little more stoic. Even my thought process of how to fight Evander Holyfield - that plan hasn’t altogether unfolded in my head yet.
Belfort vs. Holyfield happens this Saturday in Hollywood, Florida. Also part of the event is a 195-pound catchweight between ex-UFC champions Anderson Silva and Tito Ortiz.