GOLDEN OLDIE (HE’S 47) GOLDEN BOY DE LA HOYA RETURNING TO RING!

By Harvey Hoffman

Oscar De La Hoya told ESPN yesterday that he will return to the ring at the age of 47.

Twelve years after his last fight, the 11-time titlist confirmed he’s ready to end his retirement.

“The rumors are true, and I’m going to start sparring in the next few weeks,” De La Hoya (above getting knocked out by Bernard Hopkins) said.

De La Hoya (39-6 30 KOs) said will not be engaging in an exhibition fight like fellow retired champions Mike Tyson and Roy Jones Jr.

“It’s a real fight,” he said. “I miss being in the ring, I love boxing. Boxing is what gave me everything I have today, and I just miss it.”

After winning a gold medal for the United States at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, De La Hoya had a meteoric rise in the professional ranks, winning the WBO junior lightweight title by stopping Jimmi Bredahl in 10 rounds in 1994, in only his 12th professional bout. De La Hoya would eventually win major world titles in six different weight classes.

During this stretch, “The Golden Boy” was considered one of the best fighters in boxing and its biggest pay-per-view and gate attraction. He was as marketable outside the ring as he was good inside of it. There are very few fighters who can appear on the cover of Ring Magazine and Newsweek.

De La Hoya’s career came to an ignominious conclusion when he quit on his stool after the eighth round of a fight against Manny Pacquiao in December 2008. A few months later at age 36, De la Hoya announced his retirement.

“Look, my last fight with Pacquiao, I weighed in at 145 and obviously that was a shell of myself,” said De La Hoya of his ill-fated decision to move down to welterweight to face Pacquiao after seven years of campaigning at junior middleweight.

Now, as he is set to return, De La Hoya understands that many will question this decision.

“Look, it’s been a long time, yes,” he said. “But actually my jab feels faster than ever. I have to make sure that my conditioning is perfect, my health is good. And that’s going to take place in the next few weeks. So we’ll see.”

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