Oscar De La Hoya will forever go down as one of the best boxers of his generation.
At the age of 48, the Hall of Fame fighter and six division champion De La Hoya (39-6, 30 KOs) says his Sept. 11 comeback fight against former UFC champion Vitor Belfort, who’ll be fighting for just the second time as a pro boxer after accumulating a record of 28-14 in MMA, is one of the most significant match-ups of his decorated career.
“This fight is f------- crazy important. It's what makes or breaks me,” said De La Hoya. “If I have Belfort right in front of me, I'll tell him thank you for the opportunity and I know we are going to f------- beat the sh!t out of each other. It's basically it. It's going to be fun. Don't forget that. I love fighting. Belfort is a freaking legend. The fact that he's a big guy is a big challenge. It's what gets me going. Let's go!
“Everybody who knows me knows that when I fight, I give it my all. When I train, I train like a mad man. I was tired of all these exhibitions. When you're up there, you're up there to go to war. That's what I expect to do. I know he's a big motherf-----. I'll tell you one thing, I'm doing this for the right reasons. Mentally and physically, it's the old time. I'm in the zone right now. I know we are going to get into a f------- war. It's fine. It's good. I love that. That's my life. But I can't wait. I respect him. I love him."
De La Hoya is unbothered that he’ll be tasked to outbox and outmuscle the bigger man.
The Mexican-American fighter will be battling Belfort at the light heavyweight limit. He’s never fought in a match above the middleweight division. De La Hoya fought twice at 160, his first match a win against Felix Sturm in 2004, his second a ninth-round knockout loss to Bernard Hopkins in 2005.
“I'm going to think about [Bernard] Hopkins, [Ricardo] Mayorga, the heaviest toughest guys that hit hard,” said De La Hoya. Obviously [Belfort] is not a [Manny] Pacquiao, who's light on his feet and throws punches in bunches, but he's a guy who can knock you out. I love fighting guys like that.”
De La Hoya retired in 2008 after losing to Pacquiao in a one-sided fight.
De La Hoya will fight Belfort over a maximum of eight-rounds at two minutes each at the Staples Center. The FITE TV pay-per-view event will be produced by Triller.
Manouk Akopyan is a sports journalist, writer and broadcast reporter. He’s also a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and MMA Journalists Association. He can be reached on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube at @ManoukAkopyan, via email at manouk[dot]akopyan[at]gmail.com or on www.ManoukAkopyan.com