De La Hoya Beats Forbes In More Info Than Mercial

One view coming into Oscar De La Hoya-Steve Forbes was that it was a sparring session in preparation for De La Hoya-Floyd Mayweather, Jr. II. Another view coming in was that it was supposed to build interest in De La Hoya-Mayweather II. De La Hoya, I think, had both ideas in mind. His wide defeat of Forbes Saturday night conveyed more information than it produced hype. The info: De La Hoya, at 35, is the proverbial old dog who can learn new tricks. With the pater familias of the Mayweather clan, Floyd Sr., training him again, he worked his jab beautifully, the key, if there is one, to him beating Junior. He slowed down a little from about the eighth round on, but he did not fade badly as he did versus Mayweather and others down the stretch. In fact, the key to his victory over Forbes is that he just plain ol’ outworked him. When Forbes came on, De La Hoya just got more aggressive; like two of the judges, I only gave Forbes one round, the fourth, in my case, and can’t find anyone out there who gave him more than three. Getting down to 150 lbs. for the first time in seven years didn’t seem to hurt him. It seemed to help him, maybe, even though his trainer was disappointed with the power wattage of his punches. I don’t think there was a major problem there, because Forbes has never been down, not even against bigger men than De La Hoya was Saturday night, and he was stunned by “The Golden Boy” at least a couple times. And De La Hoya, as HBO’s commentators pointed out more extensively than I care to, fought taller and more relaxed, although I’m inclined to think part of the latter was that Forbes never posed any real threat to him. Forbes is no Mayweather, but he’s been trained by all of them — Roger, Floyd Sr., Jeff — has sparred with Junior and in that regard served as enough of a facsimile to give De La Hoya some realistic “practice” for his rematch. The mercial: It was about the most exciting fight you could expect from anyone fighting Forbes. There were boos, still, because, well, there was no knockout. De La Hoya put pressure on himself to score one, but both he and the pre-fight estimated crowd of 30,000 were unrealistic in that regard. Forbes not only has an impressive chin, he just wasn’t going to let himself get knocked out. I can’t say he fought like a “sparring partner,” as HBO’s team did repeatedly, because he gave De La Hoya some lumps and cuts that suggested he was serious. But he didn’t show a killer instinct, or anything like it, that would have made him take risks that allowed him to either win or get separated from his senses. And he knows who he is. By the time he dug himself a hole in part because of his low-risk approach, he wasn’t going to dig himself out of it by going for broke, because he just doesn’t have that kind of power. So, he didn’t go for it. I guess the other part of the “-mercial” half of the equation is, does this make anyone think a fight with Mayweather would be any more competitive? Let’s not forget that De La Hoya gave Mayweather his closest fight, scorecard-wise. And I suppose I’d have to answer “yes,” but then, I didn’t think it was as close as the judges did that night. Either way, that doesn’t make me any more excited about it. I’d be totally fine with it if Mayweather was taking on Miguel Cotto later this year, but without that, it is what it is: A repeat of a bout in which Mayweather was the considerable favorite last time, and will be again, and in which everyone will get richer. Next for the winner: I will say this about De La Hoya — I admire his competitive desire to get revenge on Mayweather, even if money is a big motive. I think he really wants to beat Junior. This surely means we should brace ourselves for months of familial trash talking between Junior and Roger in one corner and Senior in the other, that is, De La Hoya’s. More than whether De La Hoya can win, I think that soap opera element is the most compelling aspect of Mayweather-De La Hoya II. It’s just a matter of the two putting their names on the dotted line at this point, something that mysteriously hasn’t happened yet and while I expect it to happen, I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s some contract negotiation drama ahead, too, as Mayweather makes the case that the fight should be on his terms this time around, from ring size to the rest. Next for the loser: Forbes got the payday of his career, I have to assume, so he can live with whatever comes next or whatever criticism comes from his performance in this fight. Look, here’s what we’ve learned about grads of “The Contender” reality show recently: They’re good for an upset or two (Brian Vera over Andy Lee, Cornelius Bundrage over Kassim Ouma) and a scare or two (like the ones Jesse Feliciano gave Kermit Cintron and Peter Manfredo, Jr. gave Jeff Lacy) but there isn’t one of them yet who’s proven he can beat a world-class fighter (the three blowouts, including Saturday’s, Joe Calzaghe over Manfredo and Miguel Cotto over Alfonso Gomez). Then again, how many people have proven they can beat world-class fighters? It’s a pretty elite percentage. Forbes is a good fighter. So are a less-elite percentage. Forbes got his chance by virtue, in part, of being on a TV show. You get the edge where you can. It doesn’t make the show bad; it kinda is good in cases like Saturday, because Forbes is a good guy who I can’t begrudge getting a well-paying “tune-up” role. Who will Forbes fight next? If he sticks to fellow borderline contenders and weaker division belt-holders, he will fare better than he did this go-round, and he’s got the money to do what he wants now, I’m guessing, if he’s not interested in that route.

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board ( He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.