On September 11th, former champ Oscar De La Hoya makes his return to the boxing ring against former UFC fighter Vitor Belfort. However this was a comeback that nearly never happened.
When he retired from boxing in 2008, De La Hoya was already a fairly successful owner of a boxing promotion, even if his own career ended on a bit of a sour note. From there he notoriously struggled with addiction to drugs and alcohol, something that rival Dana White never hesitates to bring up.
Now he is set to return to the ring in a bout with Belfort on Triller, but he explained in a recent interview with Morning Kombat that this nearly never happened. He says that his addiction was so bad at one point, that his life was spiraling out of control, but that boxing brought him back to being healthy.
“When you retire, you’re taking away your soul. You’re taking away a part of you that you’ve been doing all your life, since I was five years old, six years old. So now you’ve yanked that out of your heart, and what do I turn to? Alcohol, drugs, this, that,” De La Hoya said.
“All that time that I was retired, dude my life was spiraling. I was functioning, I was like, hey I present myself good, oh he’s the Golden Boy… I washed up really good, I brushed my hair, hey let’s go. But dude, I was dying, bro. Dying. So everything, all those emotions are suppressed… so I said you know what, f—k it, I’m just going to do it for myself. I’m going to do this one for me, and when I say boxing saves my life, it literally does.”
Oscar De La Hoya Is Motivated Again
Oscar De La Hoya is rather honest about how much this boxing comeback has done for him, in terms of helping him get clean and stay focused. However he says it has also helped a lot with his physical health, as well.
He explained that since taking the fight with Vitor Belfort, he has been hitting the gym hard and lost a ton of weight. While he has to focus on his recovery a lot more at 48 years old, he says that he is ready for whatever Vitor brings.
“I’ve been, for six months, training like a beast. It’s been hell, because at 48 years old, you have to focus more on recovery, you have to focus more on injuries, but it’s been a fun ride,” De La Hoya said.
“I’ve been, every single day, waking up early, going to sleep early, eating the right foods, having the right people around me. It’s been hell and back, but I can not wait to get into the ring. The evolution of my body transforming, the speed, getting faster and faster and faster. The power’s always there, but the footwork, it’s crazy man. If you were to talk to me six months ago, I’d be like hell no I can’t do this, impossible. But now it’s like man, why didn’t I do this earlier?”
That being said, Oscar De La Hoya knows that he will be facing a man who has a history with performance enhancing drugs. Belfort notoriously struggled once the UFC brought in USADA, and since departing with the promotion, he has become suspiciously jacked again.
That said, Oscar is not worried about what is in Vitor’s system. He just wants to go out there and put on a show, even if he is facing someone who has PEDs in their system.
“The whispers around me are always telling me, dude this guy is going to be juiced up. He’s known for that. They’ve popped him for that. Look at his physique, look at how hard he hits. He’s got the knockout streaks in the UFC, this and that,” De La Hoya said.
“You know what, I literally don’t care because what I’m doing it for is much bigger than anything else. I have a good chin. I haven’t fought heavyweight but I have a good chin. I have good skill, I’m ready, let’s go.”
It is going to be interesting to see how Oscar De La Hoya looks in his return against Vitor Belfort. Regardless of how this goes though, one can only hope that he finds a way to stay clean afterwards.