BASN’s Boxing News Notebook

By Francis Walker
Updated: April 27, 2008

GlovesNEW YORK — Oscar De La Hoya’s quest for a rematch with WBC five-division champion Floyd Mayweather must go through Steve Forbes. “De La Hoya vs. Forbes: Homecoming” will be Oscar’s first bout in his native California in eight years.

De La Hoya vs. Forbes will also be Oscar’s first non-pay per view bout since he starched Arturo Gatti (KO 5) in March 2001. De La Hoya (38-5, 30 KOs), I am positive, will have sentimental memories when he fights in front of his hometown once again.

However, De La Hoya’s “tune-up” for Mayweather spells the biggest paycheck in the biggest fight of Forbes’ life. The last time De La Hoya fought in California was in June 2000.

Coming off a 12-round majority decision loss to Felix Trinidad the previous year, De La Hoya waged war, but dropped a surprise split decision to Sugar Shane Mosley at the Staples Center.

The Home Depot center will be the setting, as De La Hoya will not be fighting an opponent with the same flair, flashiness, speed, and overall boxing skills like a Mosley, who also won a questionable decision against De La Hoya in a September 2002 rematch.

“This is going to be one heck of a fight,” De La Hoya said during a recent conference call. “Steve Forbes, unlike all of my other opponents, is going to take it to another level. By beating me, they take their careers to another level.”

De La Hoya will be fighting a durable, but limited “opponent” in Forbes. The 31 year-old from Las Vegas, NV was selected as an opponent for De La Hoya’s “tune-up” because, for one, look at his record. Forbes only has 9 knockout victories in 38 professional bouts.

The combined record of Forbes’ KO victims is 88-62-7.

Forbes is a former world champion at 130 pounds and has never been stopped. Forbes’ fight with De La Hoya is at a catch-weight bout of 150 pounds. That’s 20 pounds above Forbes’ prime fighting weight.

De La Hoya, on two occasions has competed as a middleweight (160). Therefore, Oscar is expected to have a distinct strength and speed advantage, which has perhaps been his biggest asset aside from his signature left hook.

Any fighter has a chance to win a fight inside the squared-circle. But the chances of Forbes defeating De La Hoya, boxing’s biggest draw in his hometown and just one fight away from another mega-million dollar fight with Mayweather, is extremely slim.

“Forbes thinks I’m looking past him toward Mayweather,” De La Hoya said, but that is not the case. I’ve been training since January for this fight.”

Forbes’ chances of beating Oscar is about as slim as a dust particle on someone’s living room table. Forbes is a nice, likable guy with a good work ethic. But remember he is a handpicked opponent.

Forbes was handpicked for a reason. That’s because in the worst case scenario, if Oscar’s fight with Forbes is close, Oscar doesn’t have to worry about Forbes landing any solid significant punches that may sway a decision his way.

Oscar can overpower Forbes at anytime in the fight.

Forbes shouldn’t be underestimated

But Forbes shouldn’t be underestimated. As stated before, he is a former world champion. He KO’d John Brown in the eighth round in December 2000 to win the IBF super featherweight title.

After a repeat victory over Brown in September 2001, Forbes lost his title on the scale for failure to make the 130-pound limit in a bout against Daniel Santos in 2002.

“Mean Joe Green TKOs Joshua Okine

Middleweight prospect “Mean” Joe Greene (19-0, 14 KOs) remained undefeated with a ninth round TKO win against Joshua Okine (18-4-1, 12 KOs). The bout was the co-featured attraction of an ESPN Wednesday Night Fights telecast promoted by Leon Margules of Warriors Boxing.

The 21 year-old southpaw from Jamaica, NY was docked one point for a landing two low-blows in round two, was simply too strong and too aggressive for Okine, who never had Greene in trouble. Okine simply didn’t have the strength to gain Greene’s respect, as he dropped Okine twice in the decisive round.

The first knockdown was the result of a left hook from Greene. The second knockdown came from a right hook that landed square on Okine’s jaw. Greene then trapped Greene after hammering him with an accumulation of punches against the ropes at the 2:00 mark.

Juan Urango KOs Carlos Vilches

Former IBF junior welterweight champion Juan Urango (20-1, 16 KOs) moved one step closer toward an opportunity to reclaim a world title when he starched Carlos Vilches (53-7-2, 31 KOs) in the fourth round of an exciting ESPN main event on Wednesday.

Urango knocked Vilches down with a right hook towards the end of the first round. Urango landed another right hook to Vilches chin that knocked him out instantly at the 1:45 mark.

Urango lost the IBF title in his first defense against Ricky Hatton in January 2007. All three judges scored the bout 119-109 for Hatton, who went on to earn big paydays against Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Jose Luis Castillo.

Urango to wait on Malignaggi-Hatton

Urango has won his last three fights by knockout and is the mandatory challenger to Paulie Malignaggi. Urango will have a bit of a wait because, Malignaggi, who will defend the IBF junior welterweight title in a rematch against Lovermore N’dou, will share top billing with Hatton on May 24, in Manchester, England.

Should Malignaggi retain his title and Hatton defeats Juan Lazcano, the two will meet either this fall or early 2009. Urango will have a bit of a wait for his title opportunity.

Andrey Tsurkan stops Jessie Feliciano

Andrey Tsurkan was too much for Jessie Feliciano to handle. Tsurkan (26-3, 17 KOs) stopped Feliciano (15-7-3, 9 KOs) at New York City’s Bronx Paradise Theater during the main event of an ESPN Friday Night Fights showcase at 1:17 seconds of the eighth round when referee Benji Esteves decided that Feliciano had absorbed too much punishment.

Tsurkan ducked and dodged a lot of Feliciano’s hooks and wide punches before dropping him with a right hook in the first round. Tsurkan applied good pressure and boxed intelligently against a fighter that fought bravely, but was sorely outgunned.

Feliciano, moving up in weight into the junior welterweight division after a failed bid to win the IBF welterweight title from Kermit Cintron (TKO by 10) in November, did land a few punches during some intense exchanges in rounds two and three.

But as the fight professed, Feliciano became target practice for Tsurkan.

It’s amazing that the fight lasted as long as it did.

Clarence Moore pulls off major upset

In a stunning upset, Clarence Moore (5-3-1, 5 KOs) kept his career-knockout percentage at 100% by knocking out crowd favorite Jon Schneider (7-2-1, 5 KOs) at 2:42 into the second round.

Moore stunned Schneider with a left hook to his chin and drilled him to the mat following an accumulation of punches. The fight was called off as soon as Schneider hit the mat.

Heavyweight upstart Joe Hanks (2-0, 1 KO) won a four-round unanimous decision against Corey Winfield (2-4, 2 KOs). All three judges cored the bout 4-036 (twice) and 40-37.

Unbeaten middleweight Bryant Papas (6-0, 6 KOs) knocked out a severely overmatched Mike Terry (1-3, 1 KO) in the third round.

Featherweight prospect Eddie Irrizarry (2-0, 1 KO) was docked one point for hitting Gene Ramos (0-1) after a first round knockdown. The point deduction didn’t matter because the fight was stopped in the first round.

Polish heavyweight Albert Sosnowki (43-1, 26 KOs) TKO’d Terrell Nelson (8-5, 5 KOs) in the fifth round.

McGirt, Jr. regroups after KO defeat; falls back to middleweight

In a match-up between the sons of former world champions, James McGirt, Jr. was knocked out by Carlos DeLeon in a 10-round super middleweight contest on April 11, during a nationally-televised ShoBox telecast.

McGirt, Jr., trained by former welterweight champion, Buddy McGirt. Sr., will fall back to the middleweight (160) division.

“The hardest thing in the world is to take your first loss,” McGirt, Jr. said in a recent statement. “I still know that I’m going to be a world champion someday. This is part of the learning experience. No excuses. I should have listened and boxed. It’s a hard pill to shallow. I want a rematch, but I know it won’t happen right away. I won’t be able to sleep at night unless I fight him one more time.”

After contemplating with McGirt, Jr.’s manager Dennis Witherow the decision was a no-brainer: “I talked with Buddy after the fight and we agree that James needs to fight as a middleweight. They weighed-in the same weight but, in the fight, the difference in their weight made a big difference.”

“He’ll fight at 162-163 in his next fight, hopefully in July. We’re going forward, not looking backwards. The loss is part of the learning process, a bump in the road. He got caught and that’s just part of the game.”

“The last two days (prior to the fight) James just shadow-boxed,” Buddy McGirt added. “He didn’t run or train, ate right before the weigh in, and came in at 166.”

“He won’t have a problem making 163. We saw how small James (166-167 lbs. in the fight) was in comparison to DeLeon (between 180-185 lbs) and even (Jason) Naugler. James will be fighting as a middleweight.”

There’s nothing more devastating in boxing that than a hot prospect’s first pro loss, especially for someone such as James McGirt, Jr. (18-1, 9 KOs), whose last name alone makes opponents perform better.

McGirt suffered his first set-back April 11 when another son of a former world champion, Carlos “Baby Sugar” DeLeon, Jr. (20-2-2, 12 KOs), stopped James in the seventh round of their ShoBox co-feature.

DeLeon was floored by McGirt at the end of the sixth round, but he got to his feet just before the bell sounded. “When I dropped him, instead of listening to my father (head trainer “Buddy” McGirt), I got careless,” James explained. “I had him but dropped my right hand and got caught.”

“My legs were a little wobbly, but I was more embarrassed than anything having been knocked down for the first time in my career. I thought that I could deal with it but got hit with an uppercut. I tried to wait it out, hoping he’d gotten tired punching, but I wasn’t punching back and the ref stopped the fight.”

“The hardest thing in the world is to take your first loss. I still know that I’m going to be a world champion someday. This is part of the learning experience. No excuses. I should have listened and boxed.”

“It’s a hard pill to shallow. I want a rematch, but I know it won’t happen right away. I won’t be able to sleep at night unless I fight him one more time.”

McGirt’s father, two-time world champion “Buddy,” suffered his first pro loss in his 30th fight, as the No. 1 contender in the world, to Frankie Warren by 10-round decision. “I warned James last year that he was dropping his right hand too much,” Buddy noted.

“You can’t take anything for granted. Once he knocked the other guy down, James thought that he had him, but he got caught by that left hook. It’s a great learning experience. I was talking to Roy Jones. He said at least it happened now or he would have kept doing it and now he’ll listen.”

“James can’t have a flamboyant, relaxed attitude like he did in basketball. On the court he could be nonchalant, flashy, but you can’t do that in the ring. They’re always trying to beat Buddy McGirt’s son and Buddy McGirt. In a way I’m glad it happened. It’s going to be a good learning experience for James. I told him he should thank DeLeon for the wake-up call because he got lazy.”

“Sure, it’s a hard pill to swallow. I saw the punch hit him and I can still visualize it like a picture in my mind. That night, James became a man, and not just in the ring. Taking nothing away from DeLeon, James had the fight and should have won. Now he has to put it behind him and move forward.”

“After a first loss, you either become a better fighter, or get out of the game. James’ eyes were opened. You can’t do what he did in basketball, not in this business, and now he understands. What he does from here on will determine what he is in boxing.”

McGirt may have been more comfortable making weight and fighting as a super middleweight, but the plan is for him to slowly move back to the middleweight division. “His opponents at super middleweight are too big,” McGirt’s manager Dennis Witherow explained.

“I talked with Buddy after the fight and we agree that James needs to fight as a middleweight. They weighed-in the same weight but, in the fight, the difference in their weight made a big difference.”

“He’ll fight at 162-163 in his next fight, hopefully in July. We’re going forward, not looking backwards. The loss is part of the learning process, a bump in the road. He got caught and that’s just part of the game.”

Buddy added, “The last two days (prior to the fight) James just shadow-boxed. He didn’t run or train, ate right before the weigh in, and came in at 166. He won’t have a problem making 163.”

“We saw how small James (166-167 lbs. in the fight) was in comparison to DeLeon (between 180-185 lbs) and even (Jason) Naugler. James will be fighting as a middleweight.”