By Dave Tomlinson
Oscar De La Hoya, I think, has a mission he wants to fulfill.
You see, De La Hoya has a fight to sell. It’s not the fight against Steve Forbes on Saturday night. No, it’s the September matchup against Floyd Mayweather Jr., and maybe even beyond that, a showdown with Miguel Angel Cotto in December or next January. And so, under those circumstances, i wonder if he is going to want to go through the motions on his way to a dull and uneventful decision win against Forbes. Does that really sell his fight for him? I would think not. Forbes is a fighter who was last seen as a junior lightweight, that is if you were paying attention to fights that deserved attention. The things Forbes did on the “Contender” series were mostly five-round fights, and then after that he lost to Demetrius Hopkins, not a bad fighter, but what does that tell you? He’s not ready to make the move to fighting a string puncher at 147 pounds. Now way in the world.
I think that De La Hoya chose Forbes for a good reason; not so much that he isn’t in any real danger, but that Forbes, as a blown-up lightweight at this point, wasn’t going to be able to sustain body shots and the like for more than six or seven rounds. You have to remember that De La Hoya hasn’t fought in a year, not since that fight he lost against Mayweather, and he’s had a fishnet stocking scandal in the interim. This guy is obviously well-known to all boxing fans and transcends the sport, but he needs to re-sell himself to the public for maximum revenue in the eventual pay-per-view fight against Floyd. He’s not going to do that with a boring 12-round fight.
History has shown us that when De La Hoya is passive, he can still outpoint an opponent, but he is content to go the distance. But when he gets aggressive, he can overwhelm someone. And if you track back to his fights in the past, you will notice that a lot of them, from 130 pounds all the way up through the welters, were against fighters who were naturally smaller than him.
There is, of course, the issue of timing. I couldn’t really tell you how long Oscar can go on fighting every so often and still maintain a degree of sharpness. He was able to come out strong against Ricardo Mayorga, taking eight months off after his fight with Bernard Hopkins, and almost knocked out Mayorga in the first round. He then took a year off and fought Mayweather to a split decision. But here is, a year later, and at age 35, maybe I should expect him to still be sharp enough to take care of a guy who is naturally much smaller than him, when there is every incentive to do so.
Using that logic (is that logic?), I like De La Hoya to take Forbes out of this fight in about eight rounds.