/ 4 May 2008

Untroubled De La Hoya outpoints Forbes

Multiple world champion and overwhelming favourite Oscar De La Hoya registered a unanimous decision victory over fellow American Steve Forbes in a non-title bout on Saturday.

In a high-paced 12-round contest at the Home Depot Centre, De La Hoya dominated with his nimble footwork, sharp jabs and telling combinations to improve his career record to 39-5 with 30 knockouts.

Two judges gave De La Hoya the fight by 119 points to 109 with the other giving him the verdict 120-108.

The 35-year-old Los Angeles native, who has won world titles in six different weight divisions, was rarely troubled in a bout widely viewed as a tune-up for his rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr in September.

Back in the ring for the first time since his split decision defeat by Mayweather in Las Vegas 12 months ago, De La Hoya dominated the last two rounds with a flurry of jabs to wrap up victory.

Former IBF super featherweight champion Forbes went into the fight as a heavy underdog with his opponent an 18-1 favourite.

”It’s great to be able to fight here in Los Angeles,” De La Hoya said in a ringside interview in front of a crowd of 27 000 that included Hollywood actors Sylvester Stallone and Eddie Murphy and boxers Bernard Hopkins and Sugar Ray Leonard.

”I knew it was going to be a tough fight and I was hoping I’d stop him or knock him out but that didn’t happen.”

De La Hoya was favoured by the official ringside statistics, connecting with 253 of 810 punches thrown to 152 of 776 for Forbes. He also landed 126 power punches compared to 83 by Forbes.

Biggest name

”Golden Boy” De La Hoya, in the twilight of his career and arguably the biggest name in boxing, began at a furious pace, peppering Forbes with close-range punches to the body and head and forcing him to back-peddle for the first three rounds.

Forbes, who has never been knocked out, focused on defence while occasionally landing jabs to De La Hoya’s head.

De La Hoya connected with his trademark left hook early in the fourth round before Forbes briefly took control. He pinned the Mexican-American against the ropes with a combination of thumping rights and lefts and held the edge over that round and the fifth with a solid mix of aggression and defence.

De La Hoya hit back in the sixth, a flurry of punches leaving Forbes with a cut above the right eye, and also dominated the seventh by switching his emphasis from jabs to power punches.

The eighth round was tight, De La Hoya dictating early on before Forbes, dancing around the ring, surprised his opponent with several powerful jabs.

Again, De la Hoya countered, forcing Forbes to retreat with lightning-fast combinations and accurate jabs to dominate rounds nine and 10. He also won the 11th, after pinning Forbes to the ropes with a flurry of body punches, and the 12th.

”It was an honour to fight Oscar,” said Forbes, who became the IBF super featherweight champion in 2000 in his 20th professional contest. ”He has power and he hurt me twice.

”It was great to have the opportunity to get in there and not go down. I feel like I am a top-level fighter.” – Reuters