Will Oscar De La Hoya's latest comeback hurt his legacy?

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Danny Howard

August 24th, 2020

Comeback fever continues to run its course through the boxing ranks as Oscar De La Hoya recently announced that he’s returning to the ring at the age of 47.

The former six-division champion and Olympic gold medalist was the biggest star attractions from the mid-90s up until his retirement in 2008. Yet after launching a successful company and conquering several personal demons, De La Hoya cannot quell his competitive side any longer. The question now is whether his latest comeback will hurt his legacy.

Following De La Hoya’s ill-advised drop to welterweight against Manny Pacquiao, there was strong internal chatter that he still desired to go out with a win. So what can he do for the boxing world to take his return seriously AND also preserve his legacy?

De La Hoya could go toe to toe with WBO junior middleweight champ Patrick Teixeira

While doing nothing is probably best for his safety, he is not without options. Though not much has been disclosed about his return, De La Hoya himself confirmed he’ll be competing at either 154 or 160 pounds.

A quick look at both divisions do not yield promising results. If it’s a legitimate fight that De La Hoya is looking for, interim WBO junior middleweight champion Patrick Teixeira and undefeated middleweight Jaime Munguia fit the bill.

Teixeira may be a top contender, but he’s the weakest link in a stacked 154 pound division. There is nobody at 154 pounds that this version of De La Hoya can face without getting hurt. Then again, Teixeira most notable performance was being blasted out by journeyman Curtis Stevens.

Jaime Munguia is another intriguing option

Should he opt to return at 160, then the easiest choice of that crop is Munguia. Like Teixeira, Munguia is bound to be exposed by the first legitimate foe he faces. Luckily for him, Munguia has been matched soft as to preserve his undefeated record.

Despite what each fighter lacks in long-term potential, they’d be huge favorites over the golden-aged Golden Boy. At the same time, defeating two contenders in their relative primes coming off of such a long layoff would give De La Hoya the send-off he was hoping for the first time around.

De La Hoya should be targeting fellow golden agers

Though those two are the best available opponents, De La Hoya should instead target fellow retirees or elder statesmen for his one-and-done return.

The recently returning Sergio Martinez, 45, is the best choice for a fight that is both intriguing and safe. A chance at an unlikely payday may be enough to lure rivals Shane Mosley or Felix Trinidad out of exile.

De La Hoya's comeback is part of a troubling trend in boxing

The bar is admittedly low for De La Hoya’s return. If he’s competitive in victory or defeat, it’ll be hailed as a valiant comeback that better reflected his career as a warrior than the Pacquiao wipeout. If he gets battered and mangled, he’ll be another old fool risking his life and legacy for one last moment in the spotlight.

As it goes, this may not be the best of ideas, but De La Hoya’s return will continue to turn heads up until the ring walk. Let’s just hope that this trend of fighters returning long past their expiration date ends sooner than later.