De La Hoya stays with the plan

Times Staff Writer

He didn't get the knockout, but he got the work.

In Oscar De La Hoya's quest to stay sharp for his September rematch against boxing's unbeaten, pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr., the "Golden Boy" mounted a sustained attack filled with aggression and scoring left hands to dominate Steve Forbes in front of a capacity hometown crowd of 27,000 at the Home Depot Center's soccer stadium in Carson.

Judges Max De Luca and Marty Sammon awarded De La Hoya a one-sided 119-109 decision, and judge Marcos Rosales gave De La Hoya all 12 rounds, 120-108.

"I'm a little disappointed I didn't stop him or knock him out, but that didn't happen; that's the way he fights," De La Hoya said.

Former world 130-pound champion Forbes (33-6) can still claim he hasn't been knocked down in his pro career. He took some of De La Hoya's best shots, and appeared hurt on a few occasions, but he either found enough resilience to land a punch that slowed the abuse or saw De La Hoya retreat for a quick rest after barrages.

"I got stunned a couple times, not to the point I was going down," Forbes said. "He can punch, man. What's he got, 30 knockdowns? But I'm a crafty vet. I told myself I've got to stay calm, and I was able to back him off me a couple times."

Forbes has been tagged "Mayweather light," for his years of training under the guidance of Mayweather's father, Floyd Sr., and uncles Roger and Jeff Mayweather.

From that perspective, De La Hoya (39-5) rated the night a success. He adhered to his trainer Mayweather Sr.'s plan "to be more aggressive, fight straight up, stay on the balls of my feet and use my jab.

"This is the same style I'll use to beat Mayweather. . . . This is the plan to fight Mayweather."

Punch stats showed De La Hoya landed 101 more blows than Forbes, and that he nearly doubled Forbes' jabs total.

De La Hoya most visibly hurt Forbes in the fourth, sixth, seventh and ninth rounds. He unleashed a patented left hook that struck Forbes' head in the fourth, a stiff left uppercut to cut Forbes under the right eye in the sixth, two barrages in Forbes' corner in the seventh and a tiring barrage that left De La Hoya losing spit through his mouthpiece in the ninth.

Near the end of the 10th, a De La Hoya onslaught left Forbes' eyes puffy as he headed to the corner for rest.

"Steve is no slouch," Mayweather Sr. said. "I thought Oscar would have more power. Now, I know what we'll have to work on, and we will."

De La Hoya, a former champion in six divisions, said Forbes, known by the nickname "2 Pound" because of his birth weight, fought as if were "800-pound" Forbes.

But, after receiving chiding from Mayweather Jr. for fading in the late rounds of recent fights (De La Hoya lost a split decision to Mayweather and surrendered his super-welterweight belt because of one point on a scorecard last May) De La Hoya didn't relent late Saturday.

"I feel sharper," said De La Hoya, who hurt his left hand and said he will have it examined.

De La Hoya showed some swelling under his left eye starting in the second round and a trickle of blood on the bridge of his nose in the third, but he immediately showed he'd dictate the fight with his left hand, slinging scoring left hooks and jabs that kept Forbes from continually coming forward as he said he'd do.

He piled up the rounds with more activity and barrages that hurt Forbes. His defense was also far superior. De La Hoya earned $2 million, and Forbes was paid $400,000, according to California State Athletic Commission Executive Officer Armando Garcia.

That he couldn't sustain the offensive damage to score a knockout was a regret that he shared with the fans, who booed late in the 12th round when they realized the dramatic moment they had hoped for wasn't coming.

"It felt great to not go down," said Forbes, whose wife was spotted bowing her head and clutching her necklace in a prayerful pose before the final round began. "I hope I proved I'm at a top level of fighting. . . . Look for me again."

On the undercard, Oxnard's Victor Ortiz (21-1-1, 16 KOs) overcame a flash knockdown in the third round and knocked down Dairo Esalas three times, ending it in the fifth.

Daniel Jacobs of Brooklyn, N.Y., swiftly eliminated Jose Pena in a super-middleweight bout, knocking him out 53 seconds into the first round. Jacobs, a former two-time Golden Gloves champion, is 6-0 with six knockouts.

Another Golden Boy Promotions prospect, Danny Garcia of Philadelphia, capped a unanimous decision by knocking down Nicaragua's Julio Gamboa in the final seconds of the sixth and final round of their welterweight fight. Garcia is 6-0 with five KOs.


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