I'm stuck with less than Oscar-winning bout

April 29, 2008 7:00 PM
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Pulling No Punches by Michael Katz | Joan Guzman, "El Pequeno Tyson" from the Dominican Republic, had visa problems (understandable, I’ve had American Express troubles) getting into Scotland.

Therefore his 130-pound defense against local challenger Alex Arthur will have to be pushed back a couple of weeks, leaving next Saturday’s only boxing alternative to the Kentucky Derby a terrible mismatch.

It is something the California State Athletic Commission should never have allowed to happen.

I don’t know why Oscar de la Hoya needs to beat up poor Stevie Forbes.

Obviously, it isn’t the money and it isn’t for his hall of fame resume. He could mumble something about Forbes has a similar style (a reach, if you ask me) to Floyd Mayweather Jr., his scheduled Sept. 20 opponent.

The only reason Oscar wants to fight Mayweather again is money. He has little or no chance to reverse last year’s split decision in which I believe Floyd was doing as little as possible to preserve the idea of an eventual money-raking rematch.

With a resounding record 2.4 million pay-per-view buys, the only reason for the rematch is money, which is the only reason Money Mayweather goes in a boxing ring anymore. It’s certainly not for the sport.

Same with Oscar. Oh, he talks about wanting to end his career in this calendar year, sneaking in a third fight against someone like Miguel Cotto in December. Oscar fought well, but he always talked better.

First, he’s not going to beat Mayweather, and if he did, no way he’d move on to the other best welterweight in the world.

Maybe the old Oscar would have. But this Oscar is just old. At 35, he is well past his prime. His reflexes are not what they once were. His power ain’t what it used to be, either. In the last five years of sporadic action, he has scored one (count ’em, one) knockout, that coming in 2006 against the chain-smoking Ricardo Mayorga. Before that, you have to go back to 2003 and the even-then faded Yory Boy Campas.

Yet the scary thing is that the over-under for his fight with Forbes, who briefly held a junior lightweight title (losing it on the scales in 2002) and a professional fighter of modest skills, is that it will go over 9˝ rounds. The lines I’ve seen on the Internet are overwhelmingly in favor of Forbes, 31, absorbing a lot of damage.

In the States, it was -330 that the mismatch would last that long (the buyback rate that it would go under was +260). In Britain, it was even harsher – 400 to give Forbes at least 9˝ rounds of punishment, +250 for the buyback.

For the record, the odds on the outcome itself are so lopsided that they almost do not require mention – Oscar is either -1700 or -2500, depending which line you use, with the buyback either +900 or +1000.

Forbes, who reached the season two "Contender" final while weighing 149 pounds, and losing a split decision to Grady Brewer, is used to facing bigger men. He has been schooled by all three of the previous Mayweather generation – Floyd Sr., Roger and now, once again, Jeff.

But he poses no great danger to de la Hoya. On his 33-5 record, he has been able to score only nine knockouts. He is by far the smaller man. Yes, de la Hoya’s first title was at 130, but he grew into a junior middleweight and even held a spurious middleweight title.

At 5-foot-10 ˝, de la Hoya towers three inches above Forbes. When they had a staredown at the press conference announcing this travesty, the emphasis was on "down." De la Hoya’s advantage in reach is even greater – five inches.

I make no big deal of Forbes being beaten in two of his last three starts. One was by split decision to Brewer, the other by an outright robbery to Demetrius Hopkins. Hell, de la Hoya has also lost two of his last three – and three of his last five. One of those rare victories was a highly questionable decision over Felix Sturm.

Still, losing to Floyd Mayweather Jr., Bernard Hopkins and Sugar Shane Mosley puts Oscar in a whole other league from Forbes. This is not a fight; it is an infomercial to build up Mayweather-de la Hoya II. And it is a dangerous one. If indeed, as the odds suggest, that this fight will have long legs, it means Forbes is in grave danger of taking a prolonged beating.

This is Oscar’s first fight off pay-per-view since 2001. It is on regular HBO. Thanks, but no thanks. This is strictly for Oscar’s legions of idol-worshippers. There isn’t even a second fight for hard-core boxing fans. I guess Oscar is taking too much of HBO’s money for the network to give some honest fighters a payday.

Me, I’m going to be too busy next Saturday trying to figure out how to beat Big Brown.