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No setup man

Steve Forbes doesn't plan on being a mere steppingstone for De La Hoya's mega-fight against Mayweather in September. He thinks he can win.

May 02, 2008|Lance Pugmire | Times Staff Writer

Pay no mind to the sports book, Steve Forbes insists.

Certainly, he didn't look at the odds himself as he was leaving training camp in Las Vegas en route to L.A. for Saturday night's fight against Oscar De La Hoya.

The 35-year-old De La Hoya is a staggering 18-to-1 favorite, according to the MGM/Mirage sports book.

"Somebody forgot to tell me that," Forbes (33-5, nine knockouts) said this week as he concluded preparations for the bout at the Home Depot Center's soccer stadium in Carson. "I'm coming to win."

Forbes, 31, is a former world super-featherweight champion who has never been knocked down. He contends he is the more skilled fighter, and also said he believes he holds the big underdog's psychological edge.

Not only is his nickname, "2 Pounds," a nod to his birth weight but it also serves as a reminder that long odds should be defied. "When people don't expect a lot of you, you can accomplish more," he said.

Forbes was raised in Portland, Ore. In his teens, he befriended a professional boxer in a local gym and became riveted, watching the fighter's library of boxing videos. Forbes once told the Oregonian that he saw boxing as a chance to break from a demoralizing youth spent on the smallish side.

"Everybody was extra gentle, and I didn't like that," he said. "I'm just as tough as everybody else."

In his later teens, he was directed to Las Vegas to fight under the guidance of the Mayweather brothers, Floyd Sr. and Roger.

The ongoing Mayweather family drama has, as expected, spilled into this fight too, with De La Hoya reuniting with Floyd Sr. as his trainer for this fight, and welterweight champion Floyd Jr. demanding that his trainer, his uncle Roger, resign as Forbes' trainer mid-camp to avoid spoiling another epic payday with De La Hoya, scheduled in September. Roger did just that.

Forbes quickly hired a new trainer -- Jeff Mayweather, brother of Floyd Sr. and Roger.

"Me and Roger still talk all the time, the game plan is still the same," Forbes said. "It's just been passed on to Jeff. I didn't want any problems. I know it's a touchy situation, but of course Roger wants me to do well. He said to me not too long ago, 'You know the plan we had coming in? Don't change it. You know how to fight, I know you're ready.' "

Forbes has proven his toughness in the ring. He won 18 of his first 19 fights before beating John Brown in a 2000 technical knockout for the vacant International Boxing Federation super-featherweight title. He defended the belt once, against Brown, but promoter problems left his second defense scheduled more than 20 months after he first won the belt.

Forbes showed up nearly five pounds over the super-featherweight weight limit and lost his belt.

Yet, two fights later, in 2003, he found a way to fight again for a 130-pound belt against Carlos Hernandez at Staples Center. Hernandez suffered a cut after 10 rounds, forcing the outcome to the judges' scorecards and Hernandez was ahead on all three.

Forbes lost another super-featherweight title fight in 2004, then landed a spot in the boxing reality television series "The Contender" in 2006.

Fighting mostly against opponents from naturally heavier divisions, he finished runner-up to Grady Brewer by a split decision.

In selecting Forbes for his "homecoming" bout, De La Hoya has said, "Steve Forbes deserves this fight," a comment related to Forbes' controversial loss to former Golden Boy Promotions fighter Demetrius Hopkins in March 2007. De La Hoya said he believes Forbes won that fight. Forbes routinely beat Hopkins to the punch, and was leading on many ringside writers' unofficial scorecards but was handed a unanimous-decision defeat.

But what clinched his selection as De La Hoya's foe is Forbes' lengthy education in the so-called Mayweather style, a straightforward, precision-punching way of fighting that propelled Forbes to a split decision over former phenom Francisco Bojado in his most recent fight in October. De La Hoya wants to sharpen his skills against such an opponent before his rematch against Mayweather.

"I've always felt that with everything that's happened to me in my career, I've never been outright beaten," Forbes said.

Never mind Forbes' low knockout rate, Jeff Mayweather said in a recent conference call.

"The one thing that I see is Steve has fast hands and is an extremely strong body puncher," Mayweather said.

Forbes said he believes De La Hoya is distracted by his September super-bout.

"I'm not going to brawl with him," Forbes said. "I'm a smart technician and will try to out-think him. My edges are my speed and boxing knowledge, and Oscar has problems with that kind of fighter. Mayweather Jr., [Shane] Mosley, Pernell Whitaker, Ike Quartey -- all those guys gave him problems or beat him."

Forbes also resists the idea that the expected capacity crowd of 27,000 will overwhelm him, even though he was caught downtown Wednesday having his picture snapped next to a billboard publicizing the fight.

"I've never seen a crowd win a fight, and it's not going to start now," he said. "The crowd doesn't mean nothing to me, it won't be fighting me. I just need to worry about one guy: Oscar.

"He's an excellent fighter, but he hasn't been fighting enough. He's a businessman, a promoter. I know how to fight, and the people will see that. This is a perfect stage for me."




Oscar De La Hoya

(38-5, 30 KOs) vs.

Steve Forbes (33-5, 9 KOs)

Where: Home Depot Center, Carson.

When: Saturday, undercard begins at 4 p.m.,

main event at 7 p.m.




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