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Oscar De La Hoya: The Boxing Comeback

By Gina L. Caliboso

Tweet this – Oscar De La Hoya comes out of retirement. Facebook Like this – Oscar De La Hoya Makes a Comeback. Yahoo Sports Headline – Oscar De La Hoya versus who? The Golden Boy Returns to the Ring. The Ring Magazine – Oscar De La Hoya, Owner of our Magazine – versus who? Should Oscar De La Hoya come out of retirement, it would perhaps be Tweeted, Facebooked and finally, TMZ’d – meaning that it must be true. But hold on boxing fans, would a Golden Boy comeback be welcomed or reviled? Given that boxing is currently suffering a case of bad PR, I considered what exactly would happen should De La Hoya return to the ring and more importantly, would boxing gain or at least be revitalized by his comeback? So, come along with me boxing fans, and let’s examine my version of “what if Oscar De La Hoya came out of retirement?”

If Oscar De La Hoya came out of retirement, it wouldn’t be a surprise. I don’t think De La Hoya ended his career on his own terms, only because there is still some spark and fight to his eyes when he sits ringside. De La Hoya, the former boxer now promoter, sits ringside and is as concentrated on one of his client’s fights as he was when he came into the ring. Good looks aside, De La Hoya just always had it in his eyes.
But notice the verb tenses – was, had – as far as comebacks are concerned, we as sports fans, always recall the athlete in his prime as he makes a return to the sport he had quietly walked away from. De La Hoya falls under this same category. He absolutely ruled in the 1990’s. His memorable bouts against talented fighters such as Oba Carr, Pernell Whitaker, and later against his rival Mosley at welterweight, are still considered to be HBO’s best fights. When he fought at welterweight, he was absolutely unstoppable, and it’s a quality that doesn’t just go away.

If De La Hoya came out of retirement, the question would be what weight division? Against Whitaker in 1997, he earned the WBC Welterweight title and successfully defended his belt over the course of 2 years, defeating fighters such as Hector Camacho, Julio Cesar Chavez, Ike Quartey, and Oba Carr. He finally lost the title to Felix Trinidad in a 12 round MD and marked the first loss of his career. So, clearly, De La Hoya fought at his best in the welterweight division.

But, as competitive as the welterweight division was back in the 1990’s, the division now almost two decades later, is just as competitive, as well as any other possibility of De La Hoya moving into the middleweight divisions. Think about it, if De La Hoya decided to fight back in his old weight division, he would, possibly, face the fighters he had lost to – Pacquiao, Mosley, and Mayweather. In the light middleweight/middleweight divisions, he would be going up against Sergio Martinez, Miguel Cotto, even Bernard Hopkins (should he decide to fight at middleweight again). And this is exactly why a what if scenario is always interesting to think about. His own peers are still fighting. Why shouldn’t De La Hoya return to the ring?

If De La Hoya returned to boxing, who would be in his corner? I guess the question would be who hasn’t been in De La Hoya’s corner? He’s trained with Floyd Mayweather, SR, Freddie Roach, and Nacho Beristain. In the pre-fight hype before his bout with Pacquiao, he also had Angelo Dundee as an advisor. Who else could train him? I’d offer Roberto Garcia, trainer of Antonio Margarito, up and coming Brandon Rios, and Nonito Donaire. New career needs a revamp? I think Roberto Garcia just might be the right match.

Okay, so we’ve got why De La Hoya should return, we’ve got the weight division covered, and even a potential corner set up. But this is really my favorite part. If Oscar De La Hoya came out of retirement, who would be his potential opponent? But before we explore this, we should think about under what circumstances or arena De La Hoya should make a return. Let’s think about the possibility of a reality show. Everyone is doing it and the Golden Boy is no exception.

The premise of the reality show would be similar to the ending of Rocky III when Apollo cashes in on his favor with Rocky. Away from the big purses, away from the lights of Vegas, the Golden Boy Makes His Return Reality show would be centered on De La Hoya making a comeback against all of the fighters that defeated him! There would be no money, just a simple bet like dinner, drinks, maybe a round of golf among peers. But in this reality show, De La Hoya would be training for a big fight against Floyd Mayweather, JR maybe?

I hear Ricky Hatton might make a return to the ring. But on the reality show, he would basically spar with the likes of Mosley, Hopkins, maybe even Pacquiao and settle scores over 3 rounds. It would definitely wipe off some of De La Hoya’s ring rust and perhaps even show that he’s still got a bit left of what he left behind. All hearsay really, but isn’t it fun to just explore the possibility?

Now, finally, let’s really look at what I’m suggesting. First, if De La Hoya came out of retirement, there really is no guarantee that he would even have the same appeal that he did when he was in his prime. De La Hoya is now a father, a promoter, a community leader, a business man. And to take another Rocky III reference, De La Hoya became “civilized.” He isn’t the same fighter he was because really, he’s now a different man. Second, as boxing has been losing fans to MMA, would anyone really tune into a De La Hoya boxing bout, or even consider purchasing a fight against Mayweather? Or would the public be more likely to tune into his reality show? And yes, I know he had one called “The Next Great Champ” but I think the show just was a matter of bad timing. Combat sports are now readily understood by the public. And with the success of the “The Ultimate Fighter” and even HBO’s 24/7, MMA fighters and boxers actually make for some great reality television.

And, I’d watch the reality show to see how a fighter – on the verge of a comeback – deals with a different set of priorities – a rigorous physical training schedule, not to mention a wife, kids, and even corporate responsibilities. Now seriously, comeback training and bout aside, doesn’t that make tuning in to a De La Hoya reality show the least bit interesting? Doesn’t a return to the ring for De La Hoya make some sort of sense? So, with all I’ve suggested, I’d love to see De La Hoya return to the ring or even show up on reality TV somewhere and I wouldn’t have to pay for it either. I’d simply tune in, or at least DVR an episode, and let the return of the Golden Boy unravel.

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