‘F*ck this exhibition BS’: Oscar De La Hoya’s boxing match with ex-UFC star Vitor Belfort now a PROFESSIONAL bout
De La Hoya became the latest ring legend to walk the comeback trail when he revealed earlier this year that he was to follow in the footsteps of fellow icons Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr. by announcing his return at the age of 48 - some 13 years since the former pound-for-pound great last set foot in a boxing ring.
The fight with UFC veteran Belfort was initially scheduled as an exhibition similar to last year's Tyson-Jones Jr. showdown, meaning that a winner wouldn't be declared and nor would it fall under the jurisdiction of the California State Athletic Commission.
However, after apparently being impressed by his own preparations for his comeback, De La Hoya has put his money where is mouth is and has successfully petitioned for the fight to be considered a full, professional contest.
"[Oscar] is the one who said, 'I’m in the best shape of my life, f*ck this exhibition B.S. I'm going for real," said Ryan Kavanaugh of Triller, promoters of the fight, to ESPN.
"None of this ballroom dancing boxing has had to endure. Both of them are in incredible shape."
The bout is scheduled to take place across eight, two-minute rounds with both men set to wear 10oz gloves, though some changes may still be made to ruleset for the fight scheduled for September 11 in Los Angeles' Staples Center as it is understood that official paperwork has yet to be completed.
A clash is expected to take place at a catchweight of 180lbs, which will represent the heaviest weight of De La Hoya's career after mostly competing between 154 to 160lbs during his heyday.
"Age is just a number kids, when people tell me that I’m too old I respond by letting them know that the mind is a very powerful tool when prepared mentally and physically," De La Hoya announced on Instagram.
"Yoga has done wonders for me and eating healthy everyday. If you're having a hard time getting motivated if you are a complainer and always critique, if you are the one who just lays around doing nothing and bullies everyone through the keyboard, well let me tell you there is hope for you.
"Get off your ass and just do it. No matter what it is set a short term goal and start small."
Belfort, meanwhile, primarily fought in mixed martial arts' middleweight frame of 185lbs, but has competed as high as heavyweight in his extensive combat career.
'The Phenom', 44, who was at one point the UFC's youngest ever tournament winner, claiming the UFC 12 heavyweight playoff all the way back in 1997 at the age of just 19 - at a time when De La Hoya was considered by most to be among boxing's biggest stars and was the reigning WBC welterweight champion, a title 'The Golden Boy' would hold until his first professional defeat to Felix Trinidad in 1999.
The De La Hoya vs. Belfort fight is the latest example of boxing's newest revenue stream of pairing ageing veterans against high profile mixed martial artists or social media stars and comes weeks after Floyd Mayweather was criticized for what many saw as a lackluster showing against YouTube sensation Logan Paul.
While many of these bouts haven't quite delivered upon their pre-fight hype (we're looking at you, Ben Askren), the paydays associated with them have proved to be anything but fugazi - with the Logan Paul vs. Mayweather fight said to have garnered more than 1 million pay-per-view buys globally.Also on rt.com ‘He needs to stop’: Fears for De La Hoya after boxing champ slurs his way through big fight commentary gig, rants about comeback
De La Hoya's fight with Belfort isn't expected to generate as enthusiastic an audience as we saw with in recent bouts involving the Paul brothers, but if there is money to made you can be sure that De La Hoya is more than interested in seizing his slice of the pie.
And as with so many of these 'what if?' type of fights, the real challenge is in compelling an audience to pay to watch it - and with a promoter as wily as De La Hoya, this is something he knows full well.