|De La Hoya Wins a Unanimous Decision Over Forbes
At ringside Gabriel Montoya (May 4, 2008) Doghouse Boxing (Photo © German Villasenor)
Before a crowd of 27,000, Oscar De La Hoya and Stevie Forbes squared off in what was billed as equal parts tune-up for a Floyd Mayweather rematch and farewell to Los Angeles for the fighter known as The Golden Boy. It was a spirited pro-De La Hoya crowd that let their presence be known during the pre-fight intro for Forbes with a rain of boos. A veritable tidal wave of applause echoed through the Home Depot Center Soccer Stadium as their man was introduced.
It was a tight first round as Forbes and De La Hoya met at center ring. The size differential was
evident as De La Hoya looked like he was fighting a midget. The Golden Jab was on display as De La Hoya went to work with it out the gate. Forbes looked to jab to the body and move away, staying all the way in or out. De La Hoya showed fast hands as he flurried away with Forbes trying to work up and down. A De La Hoya jab moved Forbes back but the way he kept coming back and attacking, it showed this was not going to be a blow out.
Forbes showed a willingness to stay in the pocket and trade with Oscar that many did not expect. De La Hoya for his part, looked to try and take the fight out of the judges hands by letting his hands go in combination and working up and downstairs in earnest. A nice uppercut from Forbes inside snapped De La Hoya’s head back. A left and right from Oscar as he opened up rocked Forbes back on his heels and De La Hoya worked to the body behind that attack.
De La Hoya’s jab was the big difference here. It set the tempo and kept Forbes from coming in without taking damage. Forbes, for his part, picked off shots inside well but again, the size differential was too much to overcome and his solid jab was not landing because of this. De La Hoya fired right hands off the jab but never seemed to land flush the left hook that made him famous as much as he wanted.
In the middle rounds, Forbes displayed more defense than offense as Oscar’s size and volume took over. While he clowned at times and shook off some of Oscar’s best shots, De La Hoya was clearly in control throughout.
The championship rounds got a bit interesting as De La Hoya appeared to tire and Forbes attempted to take advantage. But The Golden Boy would surge and reassert himself with jabs and fast-handed combinations.
They came down the stretch of the twelfth round in true championship fashion, letting their hands go and going for broke. De La Hoya clearly wanted the knockout he predicted before the fight. But Forbes showed his champion’s class and fought back gamely, taking De La Hoya to the final bell. Judges at ringside scored it 119-109 and 120-108.
Forbes would say at the post fight presser, “It was an honor to go toe-to-toe with a great champion like De La Hoya. I said I wouldn’t run and I didn’t. I will be a champion again but it will be at 140 pounds.”
Said De La Hoya afterwards, “This is how I envisioned the fight would happen. I was a little disappointed that I wasn’t able to knock him out. He wasn’t 2 Pounds Forbes. He was 800 Pounds Forbes. The plan was for me to fight straight up, behind the jab and on the balls of my feet. I feel sharper one year later. This is the plan that will beat Mayweather. I’ve accomplished the first part of my goal, which is to fight three times this year. The Mayweather fight is not signed but I want to only fight the best.”
“Steve Forbes is a tough fighter. It was tough fight like I said it would be. I didn’t fall for the trap. The key was the jab. I felt like all the rust went away in the 11 round. I felt really good. I can’t wait for September.
Speaking on how the fight went and how he could improve on this fight leading into September De La Hoya said. “I could have popped my jab a lot more but somewhere in the middle of the fight I hurt my left hand. We’ll definitely be popping the jab more, getting on our toes and moving our head more.”
Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaeffer said afterwards that he would speaking this week to Mayweather’s manager Al Haymon about the rematch which has yet to be agreed upon.
This fight was supposed to be a litmus test for the Mayweather, Jr. rematch in September. What it instead showed is that a rematch between the aging De La Hoya and the prime Mayweather. Jr. will be more of the same. De La Hoya looked good tonight but was unable to knock out a defensive specialist fighting out of his natural weight class by 20 pounds. Everything Forbes was able to do tonight (he was more competitive in losing than the scores will ever tell) Mayweather does infinitely better. It’s hard to imagine anything changing in September.
In the co-feature, Victor Ortiz (21-1-1 5 KOs) stopped Dario Esalas at 2:31 of the fifth round. It was an interesting set of rounds for Ortiz as he faced a very cagey opponent who at times opened up with flurries but spent most of the bout on his bicycle. Ortiz showed poise and patience as he stayed behind his jab and worked to the body. A Left, right, right combo dropped Esalas hard in the third. Ortiz went in for the kill but caught a right coming in and dropped to the canvas hard. He rose quickly and they both traded down the stretch. A long left would spin around and drop Esalas again in the fourth round, which saw a lot of roughhouse tactics from both fighters. In the fifth however, Ortiz would end things with a hard left hand that sent Esalas facedown to the canvas, prompting the ref to wisely stop it.
Golden Boy Prospect Daniel Jacobs (6-0 with 6 KOs) made short work of Jose Pena 92-3-1 2 KOs), dropping him twice in the first round and forcing the referee to stop the action at 53 seconds of the first round. Jacobs came out fast but technically smart, working the jab and throwing fast combos. A beautiful right hand uppercut got Pena on his heels but it was a left hook that caught Pena and dropped him for the first knockdown. A flurry that ended with a right hand dropped Pena again. After a look into his eyes, the ref wisely ended it. With only six fights under his belt, I can understand they are simply seasoning him BUT in think it’s time to step it up. There is a huge difference between building a fighter and building a record. This fight was that difference incarnate.
Danny Garcia (6-0 with 5 KOs) got some good work in scoring a unanimous decision over Julio Gamboa (26-13-2 16 KOs) in a six round fight. Gamboa provided enough veteran toughness to extend Garcia and make him work all six rounds. Garcia still has some defensive holes and has a tendency to lean over his front foot a bit too much but overall, he is one to watch.
Gabriel at: Coyotefeather@gmail.com
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