De La Hoya-Forbes set for May 3 in tune-up for Mayweather rematch

Updated: February 16, 2008, 5:23 PM ET
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

LAS VEGAS -- Oscar De La Hoya, who announced last month that he was seeking a spring tune-up fight ahead of a planned September rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr., has finalized a deal with his opponent, former junior lightweight titlist Steve Forbes on May 3, multiple sources involved in the deal told ESPN.com on Friday.

Oscar De La Hoya
Rob Delorenzo/Golden BoyOscar De La Hoya will be seeking more than adulation when he steps in against former junior lightweight titlist Steve Forbes.
Confirming the fight from his Auburn Hills, Mich., home on Friday night, Forbes, who will be a prohibitive underdog said, "There's a deal made. I like Oscar but I'm definitely coming to win. When the bell rings you will see I am not in there just to be in there. This is like another Rocky story -- the biggest name in boxing is giving a guy like me a shot."

De La Hoya and Forbes, who in addition to once holding a 130-pound world title was also the runner-up on the second season of "The Contender" reality series, will fight a 12-rounder at the Home Depot Center's outdoor soccer stadium in Carson, Calif.

The maximum weight for the fight is 150 pounds.

It will be televised live on HBO, De La Hoya's first non-pay-per-view fight since stopping Arturo Gatti in the fifth round on March 24, 2001.

De La Hoya has said he wanted to give back to his fans by doing an HBO fight instead of another pay-per-view. HBO didn't expect that sort of multimillion dollar expense, but agreed to buy the fight and will pay for it with money outside of the network's boxing budget, one of the sources said.

"I've always wanted to be on HBO. This has been a long time coming," Forbes said.

A news conference to formally announce the fight is scheduled for Feb. 26 in Los Angeles with a second news conference scheduled for Feb. 28 in New York.

The Mayweather family feud, already so much of a story line for the proposed Mayweather-
De La Hoya rematch, will also be a part of De La Hoya-Forbes.

De La Hoya is returning to train with Floyd Mayweather Sr., who is going to train De La Hoya to defeat his son, assuming De La Hoya beats Forbes. Mayweather Sr. used to train Forbes.

Forbes' trainer is now Roger Mayweather, the estranged brother of Floyd Sr. and the trainer of Floyd Jr., who is also estranged from his father.

"I guess all that Mayweather stuff will be a bit of entertainment won't it," said Forbes, who will open training camp on March 1.

Forbes said he thinks De La Hoya selected him because "he thinks he can beat me, I'm a smaller guy, I'm not a big puncher and I have trained with the Mayweathers."

I thought they were joking around and I said, 'This is not funny.'

-- Steve Forbes, on when
he learned he was going
to get the fight

Forbes estimates that he and Floyd Jr. have sparred "hundreds of rounds together. I know him inside and out. I think Oscar thinks I may give him a little bit of the look of Floyd but that he will run through me and get his rematch with Floyd Jr. My job is to make sure that doesn't happen."

Forbes said he was stunned when he learned that he was going to get the fight.

"I thought they were joking around and I said, 'This is not funny.' But ('Contender' promoter) Jeff Wald said, 'No, this is serious stuff.' I'm really stoked about it. He's the biggest name in boxing. It's unbelievable. I'm happy about the opportunity."

De La Hoya (38-5, 30 KOs), who has won titles in six divisions but lost a split decision to Mayweather last May in the richest fight in boxing history, was ringside for Forbes' last two bouts -- a decision against Francisco Bojado and a decision loss to Demetrius Hopkins that many consider one of the worst decisions of 2007 -- because they were on cards promoted by his company, Golden Boy Promotions.

"Oscar and I have always been cool with each other," Forbes said. "When we see each other, we talk a little. I like Oscar."

Forbes (33-5, 9 KOs), who campaigns at 140 pounds, is much smaller than De La Hoya, although he fought at 150 pounds during his run on The Contender, in which he lost a split decision to Grady Brewer in the 2006 season finale.

"It takes the pressure off me being the underdog," said Forbes, who will be 31 by the time they fight. "I don't feel any pressure. I will just come and perform. I hope people are looking at the Grady Brewer fight and think I can't compete at that weight."

Forbes said that De La Hoya, 35, deserved to be the big favorite.

"I am looking forward to this challenge. I've been an underdog my whole life," said Forbes, referring to the fact that he weighed only two pounds when he was born and survived, hence his nickname "2 Pound."

Dan Rafael is ESPN.com's boxing writer.

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