THERE was some hope, albeit only a glimmer, that Oscar De La Hoya being struck down by COVID-19 ahead of his proposed comeback fight against mixed martial artist Vitor Belfort on September 11 would act as the wake-up call he needed to see sense and scrap the idea of a comeback altogether.

Any chance of that, however, was scuppered yesterday when De La Hoya, released from hospital and rejuvenated, doubled down on his plan to return to the ring at the age of 48.

“Hey guys, I am out of the hospital. I was in there for three days,” De La Hoya told his social media followers. “COVID hit me really hard.

“I was in the best shape of my life, and I really can’t wait to get back in the ring.

“Thank you very much for all your well wishes and all your support. I appreciate it.”

Since De La Hoya announced his withdrawal from the Belfort fight, the September 11 event has been shifted from California to Florida in order for his 58-year-old replacement Evander Holyfield to receive a licence to fight.

No, really.

If that’s not bad enough, yesterday boxing fans were left shielding their eyes from the ghastly image of Holyfield shadowboxing and pawing at punch mitts inside a gym that carried all the ambiance of a morgue. Sadly, it is hard to say who looked worse: Holyfield in the ring or De La Hoya in his hospital bed.

De La Hoya, who claims to be double vaccinated, highlighted the gravity of his own situation by posting some disturbing images and videos from hospital while battling his illness. It was either an update or proof, or both.

Whatever the reason for his candour, one man, Derik Santos, Vitor Belfort’s coach, remains unconvinced. Moreover, his scepticism – that is, his unwillingness to believe anything Oscar De La Hoya says – naturally carries greater weight at a time when De La Hoya himself boasts of being in the “best shape of his life” at 48 years of age.

“I’m not trying to disrespect Oscar, I saw the video of Oscar, but if I’m being honest, I’m still sceptical,” Santos told Vegas Insider.

“Something about it didn’t seem right – the level of how bad it looked. I know you can still get COVID if you’re double vaccinated, but it didn’t seem right.

“Maybe he realised we were taking the fight seriously. I don’t know. I think he thought, What I have got myself into? – he even posted this. We were going in there to give him a very good boxing match. We were ready.

“If the man does have COVID, then I wish him a good recovery. I’m just mildly sceptical.”

Frankly, given the entire September 11 Triller ‘event’ is one big smoke-and-mirrors illusion, with some fake news thrown in for good measure, it’s hardly surprising that even those directly involved don’t know who among them they can trust.