For a man who swears that he isn't looking past what's on the plate right in front of him, an appetizer named Steve Forbes, Oscar De La Hoya sure seems to be licking his chops a whole bunch as he contemplates his entree (Floyd Mayweather) and his dessert (Miguel Cotto), his fistic last supper.
Oscar took questions form the press on Wednesday afternoon, as he he winds down his training camp in Puerto Rico in preparation fro his May 3rd showdown with Contender alum Forbes at the Home Depot soccer field in Los Angeles.
The fight will be shown on "free" HBO, and is perceived by Oscar and pundits to be a rust-shedding exercise against a foe who holds some vaguely similar skills and characteristics as Mayweather.
De La Hoya (38-5) , should he gobble up the Forbes (33-5) appetizer, as he is expected to by many, has a re-do set with Mayweather on September 20, in Las Vegas.
Any true fight fan recalls that Oscar faced off with Floyd last May 5, and ODLH dropped a split decision to the man then referred to as Pretty Boy Floyd, but whose nickname was switched to "Money" after he finished counting the piles of dough he took home for beating Oscar.
The subject of Mayweather, and the third and final fight of 2008 for Oscar, his career capper, came up pretty often in the call which was held for 126 journalists. Could there be a danger that Oscar could have his best laid plans upended by the light-hitting 31-year-old, Forbes, because he's focusing not on the task in front of him, but on his to-do list? He says he will not get surprised by Forbes, and will be ready to rock on May 3.
"I've been training since January for this fight," he said. "I'm taking the steps to be ready."
"The steps" include a re-partnering with Floyd Mayweather Sr, who stepped away from Oscar's corner when Floyd Jr and ODLH scrapped. Freddie Roach filled that vacuum, but Senior is back with Oscar, and the fighter sounds ecstatic about that.
"Mayweather has taken me to another level," he said, "the way he does in all my fights. Freddie is a tremendous trainer, in the top two or three in the world. But me and Floyd have a connection, working good together. Overlooking Forbes will not be the case." He will not make the same mistake he made against Felix Sturm in 2004, when he underestimated the German, and escaped with a UD12, he told the journalists.
Oscar said he called Senior a few months after the faceoff with Junior and there was no weirdness involved. Just about every day, the fighter and trainer talk about Oscar's performance against Junior, ODLH said, and he admitted he is "training for Floyd." But, he hastened to add, his mind is on Forbes. "My main goal is to beat Floyd Junior," he then said. If I'm Forbes, and I'm hearing this, I'm emboldened.
Oscar said he's right around 150 pounds now, and that he still doesn't hate the drudgery of training camp. "I want these three fights and go out a champion," he said. "I know for sure my last time in the ring will be in December."
Bless De La Hoya, he really does seem able to convince himself that he will be able to perform at a higher level than he has before, each and every time he gloves up. This time, he said he thinks that we have not even seen his best, what he's capable of doing. He'll be popping jabs, 40, 50, 60 a round, he said, on May 3.
Oscar told the press that he was not reuniting with Floyd Senior merely to get a publicity pop. The trainer has finally taught him, after all these years, how to relax in the ring, and that could well be the key to propelling him to a win over Floyd Junior, he said. He's feeling so optimistic, he said, he might well fight another five years. Oscar paused and then said, "That was a joke."
But future plans are definitely on his mind. There's that open date in December, for instance. Who might snag that plum assignment?
"You can't really rule anyone out," he said. He intends to beat Forbes, and then Money Mayweather and then.....?
"Obviously Miguel Cotto is considered one of the best," he said. "He's fighting Margarito, obviously we know that is an easy fight for Cotto." There you have it--Mayweather/Oscar winner gets Cotto. Most of us who follow the sport intently have believed that to be the most logical path, so that's not earth-shattering breaking news.
Concerning his promotional business, ODLH said he wasn't getting into MMA right now, that he'd like to see the industry settle down first. He also took the time, as did Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer, to toss some jabs at the Nevada Commission, because their judges haven't been kind to Golden Boy fighters in recent months.
Oscar didn't get the nod against Floyd and JMM didn't have his hand raised against Pacquiao, and Schaefer counts five other instances where the Golden Boy fighter was snubbed. Oscar initially took pains to compliment the commission when asked about this phenomenon, but Schaefer was more heated in his critique. He said that he thinks Oscar won't leave it to the judges on May 3, and said moving forward he hopes Nevada judges will be "more honest." Oscar then came back to the subject, in a more heated tone.
"It does piss me off that Golden Boy doesn't get the necessary respect," he said. "We can do something about it and we bare going to do something about it."
Hey, maybe May 3 will be Free Optometrist Visit For the Judges Night at the Home Depot Center?
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