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Former boxing world champion Oscar De La Hoya is making his return to the ring next month against fellow combat sports veteran Vitor Belfort but according to Georges St-Pierre, he could have been the other man in the ring.

St-Pierre retired from mixed martial arts shortly after defeating Michael Bisping for the UFC middleweight title in late 2017 and has, so far at least, resisted any temptations to jump back into the cage. Boxing, though, is another thing entirely.

“I thought it would be a fun thing to do,” St-Pierre said on the MMA Hour via MMA Fighting. “My career to prove that I’m the strongest man in the world in the sport of mixed martial arts is done. I’m 40 years old. But to do something different, something that could be fun and very motivating for me, and plus on top of that a lot of money would’ve been given to charity, against a legend in the sport like Oscar De La Hoya, I think I would’ve done it.

“Not because I believe I’m a better boxer than Oscar De La Hoya was when he was in his prime, but I do now believe he probably has more mileage than I do. I’m in great shape, I’m younger, I used to compete at a heavier weight class. I think it would be a fair fight that the fans would’ve wanted to watch.”

St-Pirre, though, remains contracted to the UFC and any move to box De La Hoya would have to be co-signed by them — a hurdle, one suspects, when you consider Dana White’s strained relationship with De La Hoya.

“I even called [former UFC owner] Lorenzo [Fertitta] to try to convince Dana,” St-Pierre said. “Lorenzo liked the idea, but Dana did not want it. I knew he hates Oscar but I said to him, ‘Listen, I’m going to make Oscar look bad because I’m in great shape. I’ve been staying in great shape the whole time and I’m going to do a full boxing training camp with Freddie Roach and his world champions there, so I’ll be very well prepared.’

“At first he says to me that the reason why he did not want it is because he thought that Oscar would basically destroy me in a boxing match. And I had some good arguments — I told him that I believe Oscar has more mileage than I do, he’s no longer in his prime, I stayed busy the whole time, I’m still in great shape, I’m going to be very well prepared and I’m taking this fight very seriously. If I do it, because it’s my name — my image is attached to it — I will do it 100 percent. And I told Dana, I said, ‘If there’s one MMA fighter that go to boxing and look good in this situation, it would be me.’

“And at first he refused,” St-Pierre explained. “Then he thought about it but he came back with the argument that, oh, no, it’s not because he thinks Oscar is going to win; he thinks it’s because he doesn’t like the fact that Triller takes me and makes money off my back while I’m still under contract with UFC. So what Dana says — listen to this — then he came back and he asked me if I wanted to fight Khabib. And I told Dana, I said, ‘That’s very strange. Why didn’t you want to do the fight when we asked you a few years ago? Why is it now?’ He said, ‘Yeah, because Khabib was not retired and he was not the same guy that he was. Now it all makes sense.’ So I didn’t want to, but I was curious to see what would’ve happened, so I said to him, ‘I’m going to think about it,’ and I waited.

“Turns out that, shortly after, I saw in the media people saying that, oh, now Khabib, he doesn’t want to fight me because I asked for the fight with Khabib. I never asked for the fight with Khabib. It’s Dana White that probably went to Khabib and (manager) Ali Abdelaziz and told them that Georges wants to fight Khabib. We asked a long time ago, but I didn’t ask again. I didn’t beg for that fight again. We’re both retired and I’m good.”

But when it comes down to it, St-Pierre says he just wants Belfort to win. If that doesn’t happen, well, we’ll see.

“I’m cheering for Vitor, Vitor is a friend of mine,” he said. “But if something happens and maybe Oscar wins, or something happens like that, maybe I’ll get Oscar after. We’ll see. I’m still under contract for, I think, another year or two with UFC. But I’m not going nowhere. If the idea interests me still when I’ll be 41 or 42, maybe I’ll jump back in it.”