Whenever a boxer announces his or her retirement it is understandable that the sceptical fan presumes they will not be out of the ring for long. After spending decades learning and perfecting their craft, across amateur and professional careers, going to the gym and performing in front of the bright lights is all many of these superstars have ever known.
That is why the lure of that one last comeback, that final run at maximising earnings is so appealing. Floyd Mayweather is constantly teasing fans with rumours of a ring return. Whether or not he ever boxes again in a competitive capacity, “Money” loves the buzz and speculation his words generate.
The latest former star to contemplate another crack at fame is Oscar De La Hoya who plans to end a 12-year ring hiatus and take on a top fighter at either 154 or 160 pounds in 2021. Considering Oscar’s last foray in to the middleweight division (when closer to his prime) produced mixed results it is not expected to end well for the “Golden Boy”. Amir Khan is one of the names who has called out his former promoter for a fight.
No doubt spurred on by the upcoming exhibition bout between 54-year-old Mike Tyson and 51-year-old Roy Jones Jr, Oscar, 47, fancies another contest.
Not all comebacks end in disaster. 10 years after exiting the stage, George Foreman embarked on a remarkable sequence of fights that culminated in him knocking out Michael Moorer in 1994 to win the WBA and IBF titles. Foreman boxed on until 1997 before exchanging his gloves for a HBO mic.
Others resisted the urge to return. Joe Calzaghe retired in 2008 with a 46-0 slate and has not gone back on his promise to stay away. Marvin Hagler was the same, after he lost controversially to Sugar Ray Leonard. Ricky Hatton infamously announced his retirement before dusting off the shorts and packing out a venue one last time in 2012. Father Time waits for no one and despite a bright start, Ricky was dealt a harsh lesson as he was stopped in nine rounds by Vyacheslav Senchenko, a fighter Hatton would’ve mopped up in his prime.
In 1996, Henry Maske lost for the first time in 31 fights when Virgil Hill took possession of his IBF light-heavyweight title in Germany. Consumed by the defeat, Maske returned to the ring after an 11-year layoff to rematch Hill and finally exorcise the demons of that night in Munich with a points win over his old rival in 2007.
Things didn’t work out as swimmingly for another German trooper, heavyweight Axel Schulz. This former world-level campaigner pushed the aforementioned George Foreman close in 1995. Schulz retired after getting knocked out by Wladimir Klitschko in 1999. Seven years later he planned an epic return that he hoped would end on a world title win. Former foe George Foreman was one of many heavyweight luminaries beamed across big screens, offering words of encouragement, as Schulz made his way into the ring against Brian Minto in 2006.
It quickly became apparent that the fire was no longer burning for Axel who was dropped in round four and behind on the cards when he turned his back to evade further punishment from Minto in round six.
Axel’s world title dream swiftly became a nightmare. Oscar De La Hoya might want to wake up now and realise what he is getting himself in to.