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The Boxing Comeback: Stars Who Should Return to the Ring

In the illustrious history of the sport of kings, there have been many an occasion where a past warrior held in the highest esteem, laced back up his boots, pulled on his gloves and entered the squared circle for ‘one last time’.

The reasons for doing this are always down to money, regardless of what they may say. Lennox Lewis summed it up brilliantly recently when asked if he would come out of retirement to face Vitali Klitschko for $50 million. ‘Of course I would. Why wouldn’t I?’

But there are so many that have attempted to relive the glory but ended up with a travesty and instead of adulation, only pity emulating from the crowd.

The Boxing Comeback: Stars Who Should Return to the Ring

Three years after his quite sickening defeat to Manny Pacquiao, Ricky Hatton decided that he didn’t want to be remembered as an unconscious shell of a man, sprawled on the canvas with his loved ones screaming in terror at ringside. So in he stepped against Vyacheslav Senchenko and after nine rounds of a pretty awful showing, Hatton once again tasted defeat by ways of knock out. Immediately after the fight, Hatton announced once again that that was it. Many said that this was him going out the right way. To me it was worse than the first retirement. At least Pacquiao was a credible pound for pound king with multiple world titles and credible scalps on his record. There was no shame finishing after that.

Then we have who many regards as the greatest, Muhammad Ali. In 1978 after avenging his defeat to Leon Spinks and capturing the World title once again, Ali called it a day and rightly so. His speed had gone his movement non existent and quite clearly, the years and battles in the ring were catching up with his health. Why oh why two years later did he decide to take on the incredibly dangerous Larry Holmes and worse still, after being handed a beating over 10 rounds did he return again for a bout with Trevor Berbick, a man who in all honesty, was not fit to lace Ali’s boots. The sad figure that we saw after those two defeats became the unfortunate legacy of perhaps the greatest sportsman to ever have lived. He just could not let go.

So you ask yourself, should a fighter once gone, stay gone? From the tone so far you may think so. However, whilst I believe that once that decision has been taken to hang up the gloves should remain so, there are some potential returns to the ring that have my loins twitching like a dog on heat!

Nigel Benn vs Chris Eubank

In the decade that spanned 1985 – 1995, the British super middleweight division was alight with talent and none more recognisable than Chris Eubank and Nigel Benn. These two contrasting fighters and personalities genuinely hated each other with a passion and when they first squared off in 1990, it was Eubank that emerged victorious after one of the greatest bouts the country has ever seen. Seething from the defeat, Benn went on to systematically destroy his next 10 opponents before once again facing his old foe for the return bout.

In one of the most eagerly anticipated re-matches ever to take place in Britain, Nigel Benn put on an absolutely stellar performance which at the end of the 12 rounds, had everyone of the 42,000 in the stadium and the millions around the world, believing he had avenged the defeat. But no. In an unbelievable and quite frankly laughable situation, the judges at ringside scored a draw. Benn couldn’t believe it and neither could Eubank (although he did not admit this until many years later). They never fought again and the emergence of Steve Collins put an end to their reign as the Super Middleweight kings.

Recently it has been revealed that talks are taking place for both men to step in the ring once again and complete the trilogy. Both men are now in their 50’s and to entertain that this could take place is ludicrous. However, recent videos of Benn training with Ricky Hatton and his tweets confirming that an offer has been made have absolutely got me on the edge. I remember staying up late at the age of 12 to see the rematch and being instantly hooked on what was taking place. For it to happen again 22 years later really would be something to behold.

Oscar De La Hoya

Now whilst the potential Eubank vs Benn bout has lit my fire, a possible ring return of my favourite of all time has absolutely sent me over the edge.

I have loved boxing from a very early age but Oscar De La Hoya was probably the first fighter I actually idolised. He had everything. Fearless, strong, quick, skilful and most of all which was unusual for a fighter, he was actually a likeable guy. Great interviews, humble in victory and magnanimous in defeat, to me he really was the perfect fighter.

His last five fights before calling it a day were a mixed bag. A defeat via body shot to Bernard Hopkins showed his durability was catching up with him. Fairly routine wins against Steve Forbes and Ricardo Mayorga intersected with a highly contentious defeat to Floyd Mayweather Jr. by split decision (watch it back and you’ll give it to De La Hoya) and finally a painful to watch defeat to Manny Pacquiao where to be fair to De La Hoya, dropping down in weight at that age was never going to be a good idea against a fighter in his prime, but that was De La Hoya’s mantra. Never back down from a challenge. Never turn away. If they say you can’t, show them you can. With the success of Golden Boy Promotions already in full flurry, it was not too much of a surprise after that last defeat that De La Hoya called it a day and when he did, it saddened me that the sport had lost a real star and worthy champion.

So last week when the interview went viral of him saying that he was thinking of coming back, my heart literally skipped a beat. I cannot think of a fighter that would generate the level of interest in a comeback than Oscar De La Hoya would and the follow up video where he said he would fight the undefeated human wrecking machine that is Gennady Golovkin, showed that everything that so many people admired in De La Hoya has not disappeared.

Let us not forget that he is a promoter now and this all may be because he smells many, many dollar bills. A fight like this could outsell Mayweather vs Pacquiao no doubt and after the disappointing nature of that ‘superfight’ still resonating around the world of boxing, it does feel like it needs another injection of adrenalin and this could be it.

But would he stand a chance? Could he really at the age he is, cope with a man in his prime who is cutting down opponents with frightening power, angles and movement that we haven’t seen from a middleweight in years. 30 KO victories out of 33 bouts is a frightening statistic for any opponent let alone one that has been more used to the putting green than the canvas of the squared circle.

I think he could do it. De La Hoya has faced such a range of opponent in his career, I doubt any kind of boxer would ever faze him again. Golovkin to me reminds me much of the late great Arturo Gatti in his rugged power and angled attacks. De La Hoya holds a win over Gatti and I believe that he would not have even whispered the possibility of fighting him if he hadn’t already scouted the mission first.

Golovkin of course (like every other fighter in and around the weight) wants to fight Mayweather. But with just one fight left, I doubt whether Mayweather would risk such a fight which would set up a De La Hoya vs Golovkin bout as more than a mouth-watering alternative and I for one, hope and pray that it happens.

Benn vs Eubank

De La Hoya vs Golovkin

Could it get better than that?

I seriously doubt it.


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