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‘I’m done’ - De La Hoya won’t unretire anymore, ‘dodged a bullet’ with cancelled Belfort fight

Oscar De La Hoya says the cancellation of his supposed matchup with Vitor Belfort was a blessing in disguise.

Oscar De La Hoya prepares for a media workout for his supposed matchup with Vitor Belfort in 2021.
Oscar De La Hoya prepares for a media workout for his supposed matchup with Vitor Belfort in 2021.
Photo by FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images

In an unforeseen turn of events, Oscar De La Hoya recently went on record with Ariel Helwani to publicly make peace with UFC president Dana White and even extend an offer for a possible business venture. In the same MMA Hour episode, “The Golden Boy” also admitted that he “dodged a bullet” with the cancellation of his supposed exhibition match with former UFC champion Vitor Belfort.

The two men were scheduled to face each other in August 2021, but De La Hoya was forced out due to a battle with severe COVID. Now, he says he’s perfectly fine about the bout falling through, while also confirming that he is “done” with the sport, as far as competition goes.

“[My bout with COVID] was actually bad – it was really, really bad,” De La Hoya said. “It was very unfortunate because I was in great shape. I was in great shape, but I have to admit, I was lying to myself.

“When I was sparring, I was getting hit a lot. So it was kind of like I was being stubborn. I was in great shape, my reflexes — the videos that I posted, they were legit — they were fast, I felt my reflexes were incredible, but when I was sparring, I was getting hit too much.”

De La Hoya says seeing how Belfort handled Evander Holyfield was enough reason for him to feel good about not having to get in there himself.

“Everything happens for a reason,” he said. “It didn’t take place, unfortunately, but I’m glad I didn’t fight this monster of a fighter because he’s a big guy, he knows what he’s doing, he’s talented. As old as we were, we still can throw punches.

“We saw it with Evander Holyfield, where he knocked him out, so I think I dodged a bullet there.

As for returning to boxing...

“No, no, no – I’m done,” he said about competing professionally. “Like I said, everything happens for a reason and I’m actually glad I didn’t come back. I think my ego got a little bit of me as a fighter, because being in the ring, to me, is my safe zone.

“Boxing, the ring, it’s everything to me. Nobody can touch me in there. I feel safe. So the fact that I wanted to get in the ring, and train, and feel that adrenaline, it kind of took over me, mentally. I believed that I can really do this, and that’s obviously the nemesis of a fighter when your mind tells you you can do it but your body is just not responding.

“It’s a love-hate relationship that I have with boxing, but everything happens for a reason. I got COVID really bad, I’m glad I survived it, and here we are. I’m not going to come back any time soon, that’s for sure.”

De La Hoya, now 49, attempted a comeback after a 13-year absence from professional competition. He last fought in 2008 against Manny Pacquiao, where he was forced into retirement after an eight-round beating.