Oscar de la Hoya admits he ‘dodged a bullet’ by not fighting former UFC champion Vitor Belfort

Former multiple-weight boxing champion Oscar de la Hoya

Oscar de la Hoya has said he ‘dodged a bullet’ by not boxing former UFC champion Vitor Belfort, who instead fought Evander Holyfield and knocked out the legend in brutal fashion in September.

De la Hoya, 49, enjoyed a glittering professional boxing career between 1992 and 2008, winning world titles across six weight classes, and the American was due to return to the ring last year for a bout with Belfort.

De la Hoya was forced to withdraw from the fight after contracting Covid, however.

“[My bout with Covid] was actually bad. It was really, really bad,” De la Hoya said on The MMA Hour. “It was very unfortunate, because I was in great shape. I was in great shape, but I have admit: I was lying to myself.

“When I was sparring, I was getting hit a lot. So, it was kind of like I was being stubborn. I was in great shape, my reflexes, the videos that I posted… they were legit, they were fast. I felt my reflexes were incredible, but when I was sparring, I was getting hit too much.”

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After De la Hoya contracted Covid, boxing icon Holyfield stepped in to face the 45-year-old Belfort. The contest was changed to an exhibition bout.

Brazilian Belfort, who held the UFC light heavyweight title in 2004, knocked out the 59-year-old Holyfield in the first round.

Vitor Belfort stopped Evander Holyfield in quick fashion

“Everything happens for a reason,” De la Hoya continued. “It didn’t take place unfortunately, but I’m glad I didn’t fight this monster of a fighter, because he’s a big guy, he knows what he’s doing, he’s talented.

“As old as we were, we still can throw punches. We saw it with Evander Holyfield, where he knocked him out, so I think I dodged a bullet there.”

De la Hoya, who now primarily works as a promoter, also ruled out a future return to the ring.

“No, no, no, I’m done,” he said. “Like I said, everything happens for a reason, and I’m actually glad I didn’t come back. I think my ego got a little bit of me as a fighter, because being in the ring, to me, is my safe zone.

“Boxing, the ring, it’s everything to me. Nobody can touch me in there, I feel safe. So, the fact that I wanted to get in the ring and train and feel that adrenaline, it kind of took over me mentally. I believed that I can really do this, and that’s obviously the nemesis of a fighter: when your mind tells you you can do it, but your body is just not responding.

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“It’s a love-hate relationship that I have with boxing, but everything happens for a reason. I got Covid really bad, I’m glad I survived it, and here we are.

“I’m not going to come back any time soon, that’s for sure.”

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