By Miguel Maravilla
He is back! “The Golden Boy” Oscar De La Hoya (39-6, 30 KO’s) of East L.A returns to the ring as he takes on UFC fighter, Vitor ‘The Phenom’ Belfort (1-0, 1 KO) of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. De La Hoya and Belfort will square off on Saturday, September 11th in headlining ‘LEGENDS II’ at the Staples Center in Los Angeles live on Fite.TV and Triller.
“I’m doing this for the right reasons. I can’t wait to fight Belfort and get back in that ring,” De La Hoya told Fightnews.com®. “It will be a fun fight and it will be intense. This will be a fight.”
Fight night will also mark the 20th Anniversary of 9-11. De La Hoya talked about fighting on that day.
“It’s going to be intense for a lot of people. It will be emotional, what people went through. Wow, 20 years, we remember. We will always remember.”
The 8-time world champion in six weight divisions and 1992 Olympic gold medalist, De La Hoya returns to the ring for the first time since 2008 as he eagerly awaits his showdown with the MMA legend Belfort in what will be a sanctioned boxing match. This will not be an Exhibition bout as Oscar took shots at last month’s Mayweather vs. Paul fiasco.
“Let’s not do a song and dance or these exhibitions that we’re tired of. These exhibitions that we’re seeing are becoming a circus, I want no part of that,” De la Hoya said. “An exhibition isn’t us, Vitor and I have too much at stake,” De La Hoya added.
De La Hoya as always displayed the upmost respect to his Brazilian opponent on Tuesday afternoon as they held their Kick-Off Press Conference at the Staples Center.
“While I respect you brother, (Belfort), I can tell you one thing, we are going to kick the shit out of each other, that’s one thing for sure.” De La Hoya told Belfort. “I have zero animosity towards Belfort,” De La Hoya told Fightnews.com.
Returning to fight at the venue that saw the first boxing fight, when he fought in an all LA showdown against Shane Mosley. With a statue of the “Golden Boy” outside Staples Center on Chick Hearn Drive, this is Oscar’s Homecoming.
“This puts everything in perspective. It reminds me of all the love I have for L.A, the love I have for everyone that has supported me all these years. Bottom line we will get in that ring and I can’t wait,”
Oscar has a tough challenge ahead of him in Vitor Belfort as he has already begun his preparation and appears be in top shape for the Brazilian.
“It’s intense, smart, the fact of the matter, I am 48 years old. I’m just doing anything possible to stay injury-free. The preparation has been all smart training, I will be ready,” De La Hoya stated.
For his opponent Belfort, having only one professional fight is the ideal opponent for De La Hoya to take on his return. Having been out of the ring for over 10 years, this fight will be fought at light heavyweight. Belfort turned pro in 2006 but decided to fight and pursue his MMA career. A student of the game, Belfort trained in Cuba for a year learning the Cuban school of boxing. Just recently he served as sparring partner for Cuban light heavyweight Sullivan Barrera.
“I wanted a different challenge and that’s what Vitor Belfort presents. He is a legend, a tough guy, a striker, he is a professional. The fact that he is a big guy,” De la Hoya commented. “This represents a challenge.”
A career that began in 1992 following his Olympic gold medal victory which saw him waive the U.S. and Mexico flags catapulted him to a superstar in the Mexican as well as Mexican American communities the same way Fernando Valenzuela took Dodger fans and Angelinos with Fernando Mania. Like the Beatles and Elvis, aside from being a great and exciting fighter, Oscar’s sold out most of his fights because of the ladies including a massive sell-out in 1998 at the Sun Bowl in El Paso, Texas.
Bolstering an impressive resume that has seen him win multiple world titles in different weight classes, and wins over the greats such as Julio Cesar Chavez, Genaro “Chicanito” Hernandez, Pernell Whittaker, Hector Camacho, Arturo Gatti, Ike Quartey, Fernando Vargas, Jesse James Leija, Rafael Ruelas, and has been in the ring with the likes of Felix Trinidad, Floyd Mayweather Jr, Sugar Shane Mosley, Bernard Hopkins, and Manny Pacquiao.
“I’ve been in top challenges all my life. I’ve basically been fighting since I was five years old. I’ve had every challenge in the book and I’ve fought the very best,” De La Hoya stated. “I have always fought the best.”
After his last fight, a one-sided stoppage los to Manny Pacquiao, De La Hoya retired and began his role as a promoter but along the way, business differences with longtime associate Richard Schaefer caused a nasty parting of ways.
Along the way Oscar has also struggled with alcohol and drug addiction.
“I’m at peace now. I finally got here, and it’s been a struggle. I get to top it all off fighting and that is what I love doing. I feel great. This is for the right reason because I love it,” De La Hoya said. “It’s hard to explain. I never gave up and I will never give up. I can’t wait.”
Oscar De La Hoya gets emotional talks about struggles and eagerness to return to the ring.
Most recently, De La Hoya and Mexican superstar Saul “Canelo” Alvarez parted ways with Golden Boy Promotions. Oscar has also been adamant about taking on Canelo.
“The plan is to do 3 fights. If everything goes well, challenge the very best,” Oscar said.
Say what you want about Oscar, one thing is certain he has never been in a boring fight and always leaves it all in the ring. Expect that to be the case on September 11th as he and Belfort have already predicted the knockout.
“It will be a fun fight. No one in their right mind can say I was in a boring fight. There is no trash talking or anything and I know he is going to hit me hard. Let’s go.”
Follow Miguel on Twitter @MigMaravilla @SoCalBoxing