OSCAR DE LA HOYA is hard at work in the gym ahead of his boxing return against Vitor Belfort, but it has emerged that he could have been fighting UFC legend Georges St-Pierre.
De La Hoya has been installed as clear favorite for the September 11 clash, but St-Pierre has claimed he was offered the bout, before being informed by UFC he would not be released from his contract to take up the fight.
And with Belfort taking part in only his second boxing match after a stellar UFC career, it is unsurprising that De la Hoya is odds on to win at the Staples Center in Los Angeles, reports USAnews.
However, De La Hoya has been absent from any kind of combat sport since 2008 when he was beaten by Manny Pacquiao. Belfort, meanwhile, last competed in 2018 and also trained for a fight in 2020 that never materialised, so fitness-wise he may have one up on the LA legend of the ring.
According to IllinoisGambler, De La Hoya is regarded as one of the sport’s greats, with a 39-6 career record including 30 KOs, most of his defeats coming at the end of his career – he finished with a 3-4 run with losses to Shane Mosley, Bernard Hopkins, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Pacquiao.
The fight between De La Hoya, 48, and 44-year-old Belfort was originally scheduled as a boxing exhibition before becoming a sanctioned fight. The event was approved by the California State Athletic Commission subject to both fighters passing comprehensive medical tests.
Despite some in the boxing world ridiculing the bout, De La Hoya is adamant that there’ll be zero chance of either fighter going into the ring with damage limitation in mind, so CNN
“This is not a game,” said De La Hoya. "We don’t play boxing. We don’t play UFC. We don’t play MMA.
“I literally said if we’re going to do this, let’s do it for real. Let’s not do this song and dance. Let’s not do these exhibitions that we’re tired of. This is the real thing. The fact that Belfort feels great – look at him – and I feel amazing. I feel literally better than ever. The fact that we both agree that it’s going to be a real fight. It’s going to be a lot of fun. I have no sh*t to talk about Belfort whatsoever. I respect you, brother, like there’s no tomorrow.
“But I’ll tell you one thing – we’re going to kick the sh*t out of each other. That’s one thing for sure. That’s what I’m actually looking forward to. Call me crazy but I’m looking forward to it. I miss that, getting hit. For some strange reason, I miss getting hit so come September it’s going to be a lot of fun.”
Belfort is also keen to show he can trade blows with the five-division world champion and Olympic gold medalist, saying “When you step in the ring, you want the wars. I’m coming into the sport that Oscar has mastered, and I’ve learned in training boxing at a different level. My style is to come as a lion, and that’s what I’m going to do, no changes now.”
Belfort has his own agenda, and he’s not heading to the Staples Center merely to make De La Hoya look good. The Brazilian wants a rematch with former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva, in boxing, a decade after the infamous front kick KO that saw Silva beat Belfort in the main event of UFC 126.