DE LA HOYA HANDLES FORBES, STAYS ON COURSE FOR MAYWEATHER
If a win was all he was looking for, then Oscar De La Hoya’s homecoming to California was a successful one for the Golden Boy.
For twelve rounds, De La Hoya beat on a severely overmatched Steve Forbes, who was both too undersized and too inexperienced to contend with the only six-division champion in boxing history. The one weapon Forbes had on his side was speed, which he used to do a respectable number on Oscar’s face, a tell-tale sign that even though De La Hoya still has more than enough to dominate a man like Forbes, he may be even more convincingly beaten in a rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr. than was the case on this day last year.
Forbes managed to stay relatively even with Oscar until getting caught by a thudding jab from the Golden Boy midway through the first round that knocked him back several paces – evidence enough that Forbes was simply too small to be taken seriously by De La Hoya. Just before the end of the round, Oscar landed a pair of straight right hands, but Forbes answered back with a hard one-two, followed by a left hook that just caught De La Hoya on the chin. Had Mayweather, who buckled Oscar’s knees with a hard right hand last May, been behind the guns, De La Hoya could have found himself stunned – or worse.
Fortunately for the Oscar, Steve Forbes’ best days came years ago in the lightweight division, and he was able to shake off a Forbes’ right hand immediately into round two and answered with another jab that knocked Forbes’ back. The size differential was impossible to ignore as De La Hoya walked through the more polished punches of Forbes to land his own less thrilling shots while Forbes was forced to cover up. Case in point: Forbes ripped Oscar with a terrific uppercut moments after shielding himself from a ten-punch De La Hoya rally, but Forbes’ best shot appeared only slightly more effective than Oscar’s jab.
De La Hoya wobbled Forbes with a hard left to the body in round three, but it was the Golden Boy who went to his corner with a cut on the bridge of his nose courtesy of Forbes’ speedy albeit soft hands. A swollen left eye followed in round four, but De La Hoya never once appeared in trouble, winning the rounds on work rate if nothing else. After all, Forbes had only scored nine knockouts in over thirty wins coming into Carson and was never seen as a serious threat for that reason alone. But Forbes didn’t appear to be going away either, responding to combinations by dropping his gloves and shaking his head, knowing, in his mind, that his stock would surely rise so long as he hung in with one of the greatest fighters of the current era in boxing.
As the punishment began adding up, however, Forbes threw less and less flashy combinations and initiated the first clinch of the fight late in round five. Forbes suffered a bloody nose, but Oscar continued to swell under not only his left but also his right eye, a sign that he was being hit far too often. Then came a real shocker when, while trading with Forbes, De La Hoya was knocked back by a hard left hook from the smaller man. Oscar spent the rest of the round punishing Forbes for the embarrassment, ultimately cutting Steve over the right eye after a vicious rally.
De La Hoya continued pursuing a knockout, and though the crowd fell for it on a few occasions, Forbes held his ground. While Forbes is admittedly hard to hit, Mayweather is even more difficult to figure out. Of course, Oscar has already felt him out for twelve rounds, but then again, so did Jose Luis Castillo. Castillo, like De La Hoya, gave Mayweather some problems in their first encounter in 2002 but was beaten soundly in his rematch with the “Pretty Boy,” though the judges’ scorecards didn’t see it that way. Mayweather didn’t knockout the much bigger Castillo in the rematch, but he outclassed him with no real problems.
In round eight, Forbes was still around and even landed the best punch of the round with an uppercut that lifted Oscar’s head. In the tenth round, Forbes caught De La Hoya clean with a three-punch combination that had no effect. Oscar was slowing as he has been wont to do in the past, but Forbes lacked the punching power to capitalize although he did open a cut on the inside of De La Hoya’s lip to add to the painting he put on Oscar’s not so golden face. An exciting brawl ensued between the two fighters with neither getting anything done despite landing punches. Each man left the round with blood around the right eye.
When the final bell rang, both men were fully aware of the outcome, and neither looked particularly pleased. Forbes had gone the distance with a fighter many yearn to face and earned an outstanding payday to boot, but he had been swept on the cards. Officially, the judges saw it 119-109 twice and 120-108 for Oscar. Still, if a much bigger De La Hoya couldn’t put him down, perhaps it will take a full-blown middleweight to do the deed on Forbes, if it ever happens.
Sure, many would argue that Oscar shouldn’t have been expected to knockout Forbes, who has never tasted the canvas. But it could just as easily be pointed out that Forbes has never been in with anyone with the size advantage or ability of De La Hoya. The fact is Oscar should have looked better and did nothing to convince boxing pundits that he can beat the best fighter in the world in September. Mayweather will undoubtedly be better in the rematch. Based on his performance against Forbes, Oscar may not even be as good as he was a year ago.
At this point, it’s quite possible that the only way De La Hoya stands a chance of beating Mayweather is if the rubber match has already been scheduled for December, the date of Oscar’s final fight. Given both fighters’ insatiable desire for money, the scenario is not only possible, it’s almost likely, which would be a sorry blow for the sport of boxing.