Oscar De La Hoya: 'Very serious' about possible return to ring

Oscar De La Hoya, the most popular fighter of his era and one of the most accomplished, sailed into the International Boxing Hall of Fame on the first ballot and was inducted last summer, five years after his retirement from the ring. The Hall of Fame might have to redo his plaque.

The "Golden Boy" is seriously considering a ring return.

"It's got to be worth my while but this is very serious," De La Hoya told ESPN.com on Monday. "I have to make sure I am fighting the very best. I don't have to come back for financial reasons or the lights or the glamour. The only reason I would come back is because I miss the competition of fighting the very best."

Pressed time and again to assess how serious he was, De La Hoya termed his chances of fighting again as "50-50."

"Right now I feel the best I have felt in my life physically, emotionally, mentally because I haven't touched alcohol for I don't know how long. I'm training. I feel great. But it has to be worth my while," said De La Hoya, an admitted alcoholic and drug addict, who has done at least two stints in rehabilitation to deal with his addictions.

"Would I do it? I don't know but I wake up every morning thinking that I can," De La Hoya continued. "I think about Sugar Ray Leonard and Marvin Hagler. If [Leonard] could do it, why can't I? We both come from similar situations. We are both hungry for the competition, we're both ambitious. So you never know. At the same time, I wish time flies by so I don't have to come back."

In 1987, Leonard, one of the great fighters in boxing history and a multi-divisional world champion and Olympic gold medalist like De La Hoya, ended a nearly three-year retirement to move up in weight and challenge then-middleweight champion Hagler. Leonard won a split decision in one of boxing's biggest upsets.

Now it is the 42-year-old De La Hoya who is thinking about a comeback he often said would never happen. De La Hoya, who has not fought since taking a bad beating from Manny Pacquiao in an eighth-round knockout loss in a 2008 welterweight fight and then retiring, has remained involved in boxing since retirement as president of Golden Boy Promotions, one of boxing's most notable promoters.

He said that if he does return, his goal would be to face either pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather, who beat him by split decision in 2007 in what was the biggest money fight in boxing history at the time, in a rematch or to face middleweight titleholder Gennady Golovkin in a fight De La Hoya said would have to take place at junior middleweight.

"I want to fight one of them because they are the best and I always fought the best," De La Hoya said. "That's what boxing is all about - fighting the best."

During his storied career, De La Hoya, the pay-per-view king before Mayweather, won 10 world titles in a then-record six weight divisions from junior lightweight to middleweight, a record since broken by Pacquiao, who won titles in eight divisions.

De La Hoya (39-6, 30 KOs) earned hundreds of millions of dollars during his career and fought a who's who of top fighters, including Mayweather, Pacquiao, Shane Mosley (twice), Pernell Whitaker, Felix Trinidad, Bernard Hopkins, Julio Cesar Chavez Sr. (twice), Fernando Vargas and Ike Quartey.

De La Hoya, beset by numerous physical ailments during his career, said his body has healed and he is as healthy as he has been in more than a decade.

"I've gotten everything taken care of -- my rotator cuffs, my left hand, everything. I'm pain free," De La Hoya said. "I just feel good and when I walk the streets, everyone tells me, 'You have to fight Floyd again, you have to fight GGG. You can do it, you can do it.

"I just feel great physically. I've been taking care of myself. I've been doing the Bernard Hopkins lifestyle. You can turn the clock back to a certain time."

De La Hoya said he has been training regularly.

"I'm not preparing for an actual fight, but I run 8 miles, I can hit the bag for 12 rounds, I can jump rope and do the speed bag. I do all that on a regular basis to stay in shape," De La Hoya said. "I look great too. I've never seen myself look like this. Sometimes that little itch gets me in that certain spot, and when so many people tell me I can do it, it's trying to convince me that you can."

De La Hoya said he knows that if he does come back, there will be those who ridicule him.

"So it will be one of those bittersweet moments," De La Hoya said. "There will be people who will like it and those who won't. I want everyone to like it."

He said he would need four months to get ready and that he would not fight heavier than the 154-pound junior middleweight division.

De La Hoya suggested that Mayweather fight Golovkin and that he could fight the winner but he knows a Mayweather-Golovkin fight has virtually zero chance of happening for a variety of reasons, as does a rematch with Mayweather. A fight with Golovkin, who has been desperately searching for a big-name opponent, would be makeable.

"I'm gonna stick to my diet, keep running 8 miles, doing my physical therapy and staying in shape," De La Hoya said. "If I pull the trigger, it's straight to [training camp in] Big Bear [California]."

If he comes back, De La Hoya said he would have to pick a trainer -- he has had many during his career -- but said he would like to reunite with Floyd Mayweather Sr.

"I know the best trainer I had was Floyd Sr.," De La Hoya said. "We had a connection."

Should De La Hoya fight again, he would become the fifth Hall of Famer to come out of retirement to fight after he has been inducted. The four who have are Leonard, Virgil Hill, and Jeff Fenech and Azumah Nelson (who exited retirement to fight each other for the third time in their storied rivalry).

"I feel amazing," De La Hoya said. "In my life right now, I have so much motivation. I am so hungry and so determined. My plan is long term with Golden Boy, with me personally, my family, my business. I am young, I am healthy and I feel great -- 42 is the new 32."