Oscar De La Hoya showed he could still beat a contender. Next up is cashing in again like a champion.
In what was little more than a tuneup for a much bigger fight, De La Hoya kicked off his retirement tour Saturday night before an appreciative crowd in Carson, Calif., by pitching a near shutout over a game but overmatched Steve Forbes.
De La Hoya got a chance to shake off ring rust and put on a show in front of his hometown fans, who came out in big numbers to cheer him on against a fighter whose previous biggest claim to fame was losing in the final of the “Contender” reality series. He didn’t disappoint, battering the smaller Forbes around on his way to an easy 12-round decision win in his first fight in a year.
The win set up a September rematch with Floyd Mayweather Jr., who beat De La Hoya by split decision last May in what was history’s richest fight. Even though De La Hoya was a 17-1 favorite, his dominating performance against Forbes will likely do what De La Hoya wanted by helping sell the second fight with Mayweather.
De La Hoya won all 12 rounds on one judge’s scorecard and 11 out of 12 on the other two. He bloodied Forbes’ face, but he failed to knock out an opponent who had never been stopped in 38 previous fights, like he had vowed to do before the bout.
The Associated Press had De La Hoya winning every round, and scored it 120-108.
“I was hoping I’d stop him or knock him out,” De La Hoya said. “I’m a little disappointed.”
De La Hoya had little to fear from the light-hitting Forbes, a former 130-pound champion fighting at 150, and it showed. He attacked from the opening bell, and the fight soon settled into a predictable pattern, with De La Hoya stalking Forbes and punishing him with combinations to the body and head.
But he was greeted by scattered boos by the crowd at the end of the fight after failing to either put Forbes down or stop him.
De La Hoya, who says he will retire at the end of the year after two more fights, needed an impressive performance to help set up a second fight with Mayweather. He hand-picked Forbes, a decent fighter with little power, to be an opponent who would showcase his skills while at the same time not pose too much of a threat to his plans.
The fight hardly seemed suited for an outdoor arena and a primetime audience on HBO, considering one fighter had lost two of his last three fights and the other had dropped three of his last five. But De La Hoya remains a box office attraction despite a middling 7-5 record over the last eight years and, with his retirement looming, this was the only chance for many in his hometown to see him live.
•Firat Arslan earned a convincing decision against American Darnell Wilson in the first defense of his WBA cruiserweight title at Stuttgart, Germany. All three judges ruled the fight 117-111.
Nadal advances to final of Barcelona Open
Three-time defending champion Rafael Nadal cruised past Denis Gremelmayr 6-1, 6-0 to reach his fourth straight Barcelona Open final in Barcelona, Spain.
Today, Nadal will play David Ferrer, who defeated Stanislas Wawrinka 7-6 (8), 6-3.
U.S. women down Australia in soccer
Angela Hucles scored in injury time and Abby Wambach had two more to push closer to the 100-goal milestone, giving the U.S. women’s soccer team a 5-4 win over Australia in a friendly match in Birmingham, Ala.
•Swimmer Larisa Ilchenko of Russia defended her 10-kilometer open-water world crown and amputee Natalie Du Toit of South Africa qualified for the Beijing Olympics by finishing fourth in Seville, Spain.
Ilchenko finished in 2 hours, 2 minutes, 2.7 seconds.
•Patric Hornqvist scored twice and Sweden fended off Belarus 6-5 in an opening preliminary round game of the world hockey championships in Quebec, City.
In a Group C opener in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Finland beat Germany 5-1. The Americans play Slovenia today.
•Top-ranked Penn State won its first NCAA men’s volleyball championship in 14 years, rallying for a 27-30, 33-31, 30-25, 30-23 victory over second-ranked Pepperdine in Irvine, Calif.