Oscar De La Hoya glad he didn’t box ‘monster’ Vitor Belfort: ‘I dodged a bullet there’

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Editor’s note: This article was originally published at MMAJunkie.com.

Looking back, Oscar De La Hoya thinks signing up to fight former UFC champion Vitor Belfort was a mistake.

De La Hoya, the Olympic gold medalist and boxing Hall of Famer, was supposed to come back from retirement last fall in an exhibition boxing match against Belfort under the Triller banner. It would’ve been the 49-year-old’s first bout against a professional fighter since retiring in 2008.

However, De La Hoya was hospitalized after testing positive for COVID-19 and was forced to withdraw from the bout. He was replaced by then-58-year-old Evander Holyfield, whom Belfort stopped by TKO in less the two minutes.

In hindsight, the “Golden Boy” is happy he didn’t step in the ring.

“I’m glad I didn’t fight this monster of a fighter because he’s a big guy, and he knows what he’s doing,” De La Hoya said Wednesday on “The MMA Hour.” “He’s talented. As old as we were, we can still throw punches. We saw it with Evander Holyfield where he knocked him out. I think I dodged a bullet there.”

De La Hoya said his fighter ego pushed him to fight but after analyzing things with a cool head, he realized he wasn’t in form to fight Belfort – even with a massive advantage in boxing experience.

“I was in great shape, but I have to admit I was lying to myself,” De La Hoya said. “When I was sparring, I was getting hit a lot. So I was being stubborn. I was in great shape. My reflexes … the videos that I posted, they were legit. They were fast, my reflexes were incredible, but when I was sparring, I was getting hit too much.

“Everything happens for a reason. I’m glad I didn’t fight because obviously he’s a big guy, and he knocked out Evander Holyfield, so everything happens for a reason. I’m glad that I got over it (COVID-19) and I didn’t fight, and now I can just sit back and relax and grow some gray hairs promoting fighters.”

Today, De La Hoya keeps busy running Golden Boy Promotions, his boxing promotional firm based in Los Angeles. He has many fighters in his stable, including undefeated Ryan Garcia.

De La Hoya says he’s finished fighting and will just focus on promoting.

“No, no, I’m done,” De La Hoya said. “Everything happens for a reason, and I’m glad that I didn’t come back.”