Oscar De La Hoya may be trying to put an unlikely twist on the phrase, “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em.” The 44-year-old ex-boxer is now saying that he’d like to join Conor McGregor in another novelty boxing megamatch — and promises that he could beat the UFC champion with ease.
“I know I can take out Conor McGregor in two rounds. I’ll come back for that fight,” De la Hoya said Monday (via ESPN). “Two rounds. Just one more [fight]. I’m calling him out. Two rounds, that’s all I need.”
Speaking on a digital radio show, “Golden Boy Radio with Tattoo and the Crew,” De La Hoya said he’s been “secretly training” and is “faster than ever and stronger than ever.” He added, “You know I’m competitive. I still have it in me.”
When Floyd Mayweather came out of retirement to take on McGregor in an August boxing match, he was 40 and had last fought in September 2015, when he extended his record to 49-0 with a win over Andre Berto. By contrast, De La Hoya hasn’t fought since December 2008, when he was pummeled by Manny Pacquiao in a non-title bout that was stopped after the eighth round.
In the run-up to the Mayweather-McGregor fight, in which the Irishman stepped away from his celebrated MMA career to make his boxing debut, De La Hoya lashed out at the event as a “circus” and a “disaster” for boxing. “If you thought Mayweather-Pacquiao was a black eye for our sport — a matchup between two of the best pound-for-pound fighters that simply didn’t deliver — just wait until the best boxer of a generation dismantles someone who has never boxed competitively at any level — amateur or professional,” De La Hoya said in a Facebook post.
After the fight, in which the 29-year-old McGregor lasted 10 rounds before losing by technical knockout, De La Hoya called it a “fraud” and a “farce.” He claimed that Mayweather allowed McGregor to win a few rounds to make the event more compelling.
At the time, De La Hoya also acknowledged that he could be seen as engaging in sour grapes, given that he was the promoter for Canelo Alvarez, whose September showdown with Gennady Golovkin was being overshadowed by the hoopla over Mayweather-McGregor. However, he was making a point with which many boxing fans agreed: that it was ludicrous to pit a star from a different combat sport against arguably the finest boxer of his time.
Now, however, De La Hoya appears eager to participate in a similar “farce.” Eric Gomez, the president of Golden Boy Promotions, said to ESPN of a possible De La Hoya comeback, “I don’t want to speak for him, but he’s in shape and I’m sure he has been thinking about it. The itch is there, has been for a long time.”
After McGregor jumped into the cage at a Bellator event Saturday to celebrate a training teammate’s victory, he was reportedly left off the card for December’s UFC 219, in which he would have fought UFC interim lightweight champion Tony Ferguson. For the time being, McGregor does not have his next fight officially scheduled, in MMA or boxing.
“I’ve been working out for the last five months. [My confidence] is how I feel now from my training,” De La Hoya said on the radio show. “I don’t know what it is, but I’ll tell you now that I’ve never felt so good before in my life.”
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