De La Hoya Beats Forbes

By Francis Walker
Updated: May 4, 2008

NEW YORK — Oscar De La Hoya thrilled more than 25,000 of his supporters at the Home Depot Center, a massive soccer stadium in Carson, Ca. on Saturday.

De La Hoya (39-5, 30 KOs), in preparation for a rematch with WBC welterweight champion Floyd Mayweather, Jr., won a unanimous 12-round decision against Steve Forbes (33-6, 9 KOs). All three judges had De La Hoya leading 119-109 (twice) and a 120-108 shutout.

De La Hoya vs. Forbes was billed as “Homecoming.” It was De La Hoya’s first bout in his native California in eight years and his first televised fight on HBO premium network since he starched Arturo Gatti (KO 5) in March 2001. The event was also overwhelmingly affordable for anyone’s budget, as tickets were as low as $25.

De La Hoya’s bout with Forbes was just as worth the attention as any other fight that Oscar has had throughout his 16-year career. At age 35, De La Hoya is calling it quits. He’s finally going to hang-up his gloves which as allowed him to become perhaps the richest boxer in the history of the sport.

De La Hoya will retire, but not right away. De La Hoya first has unfinished business with the last man to have beaten him, Mayweather, Jr.

De La Hoya was criticized for fading in the final rounds of his bout with Mayweather, Jr. exactly one year ago. On May 5, 2007, in the richest fight in boxing history with more than 2.5 million pay-per-view buys, De La Hoya would lose a close split decision.

Upon his return, De La Hoya wanted to fight a fast, durable fighter that would challenge his conditioning and push him. That’s why De La Hoya handpicked Forbes, a former IBF 130-pound champion, that has never been KO’d or even knocked down in a professional contest.

A knockout of Forbes in front of a pro-De La Hoya audience in most likely his final bout in California would have made De La Hoya’s “Homecoming” perfect.

“That was the game plan,” said De La Hoya, who later admitted “I was disappointed.”

Although De La Hoya didn’t knock Forbes out, he should still be pleased because. De La Hoya was dominant, especially after a one-year layoff of almost 365 days.

De La Hoya, working with Mayweather, Sr., for the eighth time (6-2), boxed well. De La Hoya didn’t abandon his left jab the way did under Freddie Roach while fighting one of the best fighters in the world last year.

De La Hoya remained true to his jab, which set up beautiful left-right hook combinations and uppercuts. De La Hoya also used his arms and gloves to block a lot of Forbes’ punches.

“Obviously the key was the jab,” De La Hoya said. “I felt really good. People expected me to fade in the fifth or sixth round but all the rust went away around the 11th round.”

Forbes simply wasn’t just an opponent. He did fight Oscar and he fought well enough to cause swelling around both eyes and cut De La Hoya on the bride of his nose.

Forbes brought the fight to De La Hoya in the early rounds and went straight after him. Forbes’ defense was so good, De La Hoya had a difficult time landing his famous left hook that flattened Fernando Vargas and Ricardo Mayorga.

Overall, Forbes was simply outgunned and overmatched.

Forbes was competitive throughout, but regressed after De La Hoya left a cut above Forbes right eye during an exchange in the sixth round. Once the bout reached the final rounds, Forbes was content going the distance.

De La Hoya also wanted to test his endurance by going deep into the championship rounds without fading.

“I wanted to prove one thing – that I could stay on my toes and pop my jab,” De La Hoya said. “I could have done it a lot more but I hurt my hand in the fifth or sixth round on the top of his head. After that I was biting down and throwing my hard jab.”

De La Hoya vs. Mayweather 2 in September

“I’ll tell you one thing. I can’t wait for September,” De La Hoya said.

De La Hoya will be waiting for another opportunity to fight Mayweather, Jr. Their first bout was not as thrilling as everyone expected, but it was a good boxing match between two of boxing’s best.

De La Hoya was without the services of Mayweather, Sr., who guided De La Hoya to world championships at 154 and 160 pounds. Mayweather, Sr. and De La Hoya had a dispute over the $2 million fee the older Mayweather wanted to prepare his protégé to fight his son. Instead, De La Hoya offered Mayweather Sr., an incentive based package totaling $1million.

De La Hoya went with Freddie Roach, who simply allowed him to do whatever he wanted. When De La Hoya stopped using his left jab, his chances at beating Mayweather, Jr. went out the window.

All eyes on Mayweather family

The rematch will be better because, De La Hoya will be much better prepared. Also, the most attractive story around the fight will be surrounded by the Mayweather clan. Mayweather, Jr. learned everything there is to know about boxing through his father, who will be in De La Hoya’s corner.

Roger Mayweather will train Floyd Jr., his nephew. Both Floyd Sr. and brother Roger aren’t the best of friends, yet they grew up together in the mean streets of Grand Rapids, Michigan and were both stellar amateur fighters.

Floyd Mayweather, Sr. and Jr. aren’t the best of friends themselves and their relationship has soured through the years.