CARSON, CA.-Oscar De La Hoya returns home to fight for the first time in eight years.
Though it’s not quite his East Los Angeles roots, the city of Carson is considered to be in the Los Angeles vicinity.
“We thought about having it in East Los Angeles College,” said De La Hoya who grew up a mile from the East L.A. stadium that is famous for hosting the high school football rivalry Garfield versus Roosevelt each year.
De La Hoya attended Garfield High.
Not since the Golden Boy fought Shane Mosley in a cross-town rivalry in 2000 has De La Hoya fought near his turf. This time he faces slick fighting Steve “Two Pounds” Forbes (33-5, 9 KOs) in a welterweight match set for 149 pounds at the Home Depot Stadium on May 3.
Last Sunday the Academy Award handed out Oscars to the winners. On Tuesday, Forbes received his Oscar and seemed to be dream walking to the podium.
“I’ve always been kind of an underground fighter,” Forbes, 30, said to the press. “Only the hardcore boxing fans know me.”
Just like Mosley, the Las Vegas boxer Forbes has the style and tenacity to give the East Los Angeles boxer style adjustment problems.
“Oscar has the Mayweather style but I’m better at it,” said Forbes, who will be trained by Roger Mayweather. “I’ve been doing it longer.”
De La Hoya has brought back Mayweather, who ironically began training Oscar immediately after the split-decision loss to Mosley in the Staples Center. It was that arena’s first venture into professional boxing.
“I want to thank Stevie Forbes for this opportunity,” De La Hoya told the press. “This is not a tune up fight.”
With the soccer stadium in the backdrop De La Hoya and Forbes praised each other and talked about both having Mayweathers in each of their corners. At one time Floyd Mayweather also trained Forbes. Now it’s Roger Mayweather who prepares him.
“I helped him win the world championship,” said Floyd Mayweather Sr. who attended the press conference. “I was the one that helped my son win his first title. I helped Chad Dawson win his first title and I helped Joan Guzman. I know how Stevie Forbes fights.”
Many boxing fans feel it’s a mismatch because Forbes captured a junior lightweight title and just recently began fighting in the welterweight level. Most forget he competed in the Contender TV reality show and nearly captured the championship fought at 150 pounds.
De La Hoya, 35, also points out something else.
“I competed at junior lightweight too,” De La Hoya (38-5, 30 KOs) said. “This is a tough fight.”
It’s common knowledge that De La Hoya plans to fight Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a September rematch and possibly a third fight against another opponent by the end of the year.
“I definitely want to fight three times,” he said. “Of course Forbes can ruin everything.”
That’s what Forbes plans to do.
“If I win, I mean when I win, I can do a number of things,” said Forbes, who seemed to be day dreaming of the possibilities a win over De La Hoya could bring. “It’s a chance to show what I can do.”
Forbes explained that more than 12 years ago he was urged by the Mayweathers to move from Portland, Oregon to the desert sands of Las Vegas. While in the gambling city he spent many years with the Mayweathers and gives them props for his career.
“I used to sleep on Roger’s couch,” said Forbes. “It was Floyd who told me I couldn’t go back to Portland. He said he could make me a champion.”
One of Forbes strengths is his iron chin.
“I’ve never been knocked out or even knocked down,” said Forbes rubbing his chin. “Not even in the amateurs.”
It’s that resilience and his pure boxing skills that prompted Golden Boy Promotions to select him.
“When they told me about this fight I thought it was a bad joke,” said Forbes, adding that his wife told him to follow up. “But they put me on the phone and I said this is real.”
Others had been mentioned including Brooklyn’s flashy IBF junior welterweight titleholder Paul Malignaggi.
“It came down to styles,” said De La Hoya, adding that Forbes closely resembles
Mayweather's boxing style. “Plus he deserves this fight.”
Forbes could hardly keep from smiling.
“Today’s my birthday,” Forbes said. “What a birthday present.”