Oscar De La Hoya has officially announced his return to competition for July 3rd. Promoters describe the return as targeting a “big name” in the UFC and they say that Oscar, in his own words, is “stronger and better than ever.” I’m sure he does make that claim. Don’t all fighters who get back in the gym say that at some point? While strength might be a subjective or more mutable term, Oscar De La Hoya is most assuredly not better than ever. I was completely unaware that he was planning on fighting someone with little to no experience as a professional boxer, but that makes even more sense when you think about it. He’s following in the trendy footsteps of fresher fighters, like Mayweather, and superior athletes, like Bernard Hopkins or Mike Tyson, hoping to merge the two pathways into some kind of marketable cross-promotion that would ostensibly paint De La Hoya as an aging legend, when he might otherwise reach his denouement simply as a once-great. He probably sees the wisdom in Mayweather’s selection of an MMA opponent, in whom the UFC had invested a huge amount of confidence and promotional hype, but who would be relatively inexperienced as a boxer. Maybe if he wins, Oscar will move on to YouTube stars for his next bout. Then again, it would make more sense to adopt that strategy in the event of a loss. Not that rational thought has a lot to do with any of it.
Andy “Flash-in-the-Pan” Ruiz is back in action on May 1st against fellow endomorph Chris Arreola. The once-formidable fatty challenged for the heavyweight title on multiple occasions but always fell just short of glory, whereas it was always a mystery how Andy Ruiz Jr. got his shot at a complacent Anthony Joshua, and even more of a mystery how he won the first fight. That being said, the man who has been called “The Nightmare,” is likely to encounter some surreal and unpleasant experiences of his own in this match. Arreola has been something approaching washed-up since his campaign to become a more traditional heavyweight in terms of his physique–rather than rolling and sloshing back and forth across the ring with his tidal waves of corpulence–back around 2011, when Sports Illustrated reported on his “dramatic weight loss.” That year, Arreola got in the ring 5 times (and basically won all his fights) in an unusual streak of activity for a seasoned pro. Unfortunately, the changes in physique and activity did not equate to better performance, as Arreola has only won 5 of his 12 fights since the beginning of 2012. This weight loss was Arreola’s response to losing his position as a challenger for the top heavyweights in the sport, but if anything, the change seemed to detract from the stylistic and strategic elements that had made him such a formidable fighter to begin with, while his overall stamina seemed the same. 10 years later, I’m not going to be naive about his chances. Just like this past weekend, when Alexander Povetkin came in looking flabby and deflated, Arreola looks worse than he has in the past and he’s older than he was when he was losing against the top heavies, so it’s just not realistic to expect him to pull a David Price and reignite his bid for a belt. Some guys are inconsistent, and while Ruiz is almost as inconsistent as Povetkin or Arreola, he’s younger by about a decade. As with Whyte’s domination over Povetkin, look for Arreola to receive another push towards retirement in this fight.
On the other side of the spectrum, in terms of consistency, is Saul Alvarez, who takes on Billy Joe Saunders on May 8th. Saunders is a solid fighter, but has never shown any flashes of greatness, so it’s an easy prediction to make. Alvarez will get a chance to showcase his talent once again, this time against a worthy opponent. Tune in and watch him tune up on DAZN, May 8th.