‘The Golden Boy’ made an announcement this week that he’s seriously considering a comeback fight. Before jumping into what we think about it, I want to focus on what De La Hoya said when he last retired and compare it to what he’s saying now. In 2008, when he was 37, De La Hoya lost a very one-sided fight to Manny Pacquiao at 147lbs and looked every bit too old to do his own legacy justice. He was aggressive but lacked the pace and power that made him so dangerous as a boxer.
Following the fight, while still in the ring, he told Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach, “You’re right, Freddie. I don’t have it anymore.” Then in a post-fight interview, he responded to a question about whether he’d continue boxing, “My heart still wants to fight, that’s for sure. But when your physical doesn’t respond, what can you do? I have to be smart and make sure I think about my future plans.”
He left the ring and announced his retirement, keeping to his word for the next decade. Now, at 47, De La Hoya has curiously changed his tune, “I would really, really come back. I’m really considering it. Whoever is the best out there, I still have that mentality. It would be at 160lbs. No (won’t fight Canelo). If it’s at 154lbs maybe, somebody coming up from 147lbs? Any top, top, top guy at 147lbs.” While he was quick to point out that he didn’t feel good when meeting Pacquiao at 147lbs and would only consider fighting at 160lbs now, he seems to have come to the conclusion that a decade later, he isn’t as old as he was then.
De La Hoya is going to be the best judge of how he feels, whether he’s ready and physically up to a comeback. It’s just curious to see the contrast in his own mind. He fought the “top, top, top guy” at 147lbs a decade ago and lost decisively, now he wants the best at 160lbs? We just don’t see how it could be much different.
How sure is he?
De La Hoya talked confidently about his potential return, distancing himself from the type of exhibition fights Mike Tyson is targeting saying, “No, like a real fight. Seriously”. As we said, only De La Hoya can really judge if he’s ready, but De La Hoya said something that doesn’t sit well with me. He said he wants to see how Tyson gets on with his comeback first before he decides what he will do himself. His exact words were, “I want to see Tyson perform. See how his reflexes are, see if he can go past three, four rounds, then I’ll make my decision.”
Why does it matter? Tyson is a separate man, he always was, and his performance now shouldn’t have any impact on De La Hoya. If anything, the fact that De La Hoya is targeting real fights should make him completely disregard what Tyson does. Let’s Tyson comes back and boxes a 6-round fight against a fellow retiree or a middling Heavyweight and looks very impressive doing it, does that make it okay for De La Hoya to jump in with say, Jermall Charlo? It just seems ludicrous.
If Golden Boy is thinking about a comeback, he should be focusing on his own training and taking stock of how his own body feels. How does the torn cartilage in left wrist feel, the one that required surgery, and made him cancel his fight with Roman Karmazin in 2001? What about the muscle he tore in his left forearm against Ricardo Mayorga in 2006, or the rotator cuff he injured training for Pacquiao in 2008? De La Hoya has his own reflexes and his own injuries, he also will also have his own opponents if he chooses to make this real. Watching how Mike Tyson does over the coming months seems a little irrelevant.
Of course, if De La Hoya did make a comeback, it would be a huge event. Even at his advanced age he’d be a huge draw and would be able to sell out most of the Vegas venues with the right opponent. It then becomes a question not of ‘can he’ or ‘will he’, but should he? We’d honestly love to see him fight again. Only he can tell us if a comeback is the right decision for him. What do you think?