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Bill Dwyre

De La Hoya sets up another big payday

May 04, 2008|Bill Dwyre

It was a night programmed for predictability, and Oscar De La Hoya stuck with the program.

By jabbing an overmatched and undersized Steve Forbes back into boxing's ranks of the might-have-beens, De La Hoya accomplished what he was supposed to.

He beat a guy he should have, filled a soccer stadium with 27,000 fans -- many of whom could never afford the prices of the Las Vegas casino fights -- and validated his ability to win for the pay-per-view-buying public that will now be inundated with the romantic notion of a De La Hoya-Floyd Mayweather Jr. classic brawl.

That's scheduled for Sept. 20 in Las Vegas and is a rematch of their fight a year ago that brought Mayweather a close victory. It also enticed 2.4 million people to buy the pay-per-view package at $49.95. That's the real issue.

Saturday night was supposed to be, and clearly was, the first day of that promotion.

Somewhere, Mayweather was watching. Likely, after seeing De La Hoya try mightily and fail to put Forbes on the mat, he felt few pangs of fear.

This was a setup for the next big payday. Nothing more. Had Forbes actually beaten De La Hoya, a veteran of 10 titles in his 39-5 career and a savvy puncher who always scores with his jab, there would have been some question as to whether the sun would have come up today.

De La Hoya said that he had accomplished his goal. Kind of.

"I had hoped to put Forbes out, to knock him out," De La Hoya said. "But that's what Steve Forbes is. A tough fighter who has never been down."

Forbes, who won a title years ago and made most of his mark in boxing with a recent appearance on TV's "The Contenders," where he lost in the final, also sounded like he achieved his goal.

"It was great to have the opportunity to get out there," he said, "and not go down."

The decision was obvious to all, including the judges, one of whom had it 120-108, meaning De La Hoya won all 12 rounds on that card. The other two had it 119-109, meaning each gave Forbes one round.

If it was tennis, the score would have been 6-0, 6-1.

When it ended, De La Hoya had a little cut on the bridge of his nose and a mouse under his right eye. Forbes had a similar mouse under his eye.

The punch statistics told the tale of what sort of fight it was. Lots of jabs, ducking and dodging, and punching flurries. De La Hoya, a veteran of such big shows, got the best of these almost every time. The fact that De La Hoya is three inches taller and has four inches more reach certainly wasn't lost on the judges. Nor probably on the matchmaker from De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions, who designated Forbes as next up.

De La Hoya threw more punches, 810, and landed more, 253. Forbes was 152 for 776. The key thing was that De La Hoya landed 127 jabs to Forbes' 69. No surprise if Forbes wakes up Sunday morning with his neck stiff from being snapped back for 12 rounds.

This fight was sanctioned by no organization. No alphabet soup, no phony belt, no matter. It was contested at a catch-weight of 150 pounds, midway between 147 welterweight and 154 super-welter.

The likelihood is that De La Hoya will fight Mayweather this time at 147, seven pounds below the super-welter match they had a year ago. Many of De La Hoya's best fights over the years have been at 147.

The crowd seemed to enjoy the show. The beer was $8, the peanuts $4.50 and a De La Hoya sweat shirt, with hood, was $50. Some of the tickets were $25, and even though those seats were about an eight-iron away from the ring, a good time was had by all.

Even Forbes, who said afterward, "I told you guys that I wasn't going to run, and I didn't."

He also said, "I'll be back. My weight is 140 pounds and I'll be back and a champion again."

De La Hoya himself got on the Forbes-will-be-back bandwagon, which is often the case in the usual nicey-nice aftermath of a fight. Forbes' nickname is "Two Pound," because that was his birth weight.

"He's not Two Pound Forbes," De La Hoya said. "He is 800-pound Forbes."

De La Hoya also said that Forbes was "One tough customer."

The scorecard said something else. It said rout. Just like it was programmed to be.

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Dwyre can be reached at Bill.Dwyre@latimes.com. For previous columns, go to latimes.com/dwyre.

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