Steve Forbes: Relaxation is just attitude
Interview by John Novoselac and Gabriel Montoya (May 3, 2008) Doghouse Boxing (Photo © Will Hart/HBO)  
Leading up to the biggest fight of his career in a weight class he has no business in, you would think that some semblance of nerves would be affecting former IBF 130 pound titlist Steve Forbes. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Forbes is as relaxed as any fighter could be, unfazed by the size, strength, and star power of his foe, Oscar De La Hoya.

In regards to the weight, Forbes said, “Of course I do have to worry because I do get pretty big when I am not
training to fight. This has been a weight-stress free training camp. We just trained and prepared for the fight.”

When questioned about the pro De La Hoya crowd, expected to be in the range of 30,000, Forbes replied, “I’ve never really seen a crowd win a fight for a person. I think fans are fans. A lot of people seem to root for the underdog; too, even though going in, they feel they are friends with the favorite. Once the fight (starts), once I land the first punch or whatever punch I land, the fans will switch. They’ll say ‘oh wait a minute, this is a fight’.”

Forbes has proved to be somewhat successful in fighting at a higher weight when he came in second in ESPN’s Contender series in 2006, losing a split decision in the finals to the much larger Grady Brewer.

Asked about strategy, Forbes offered, “Be smart. More defensive-minded. Not make any stupid mistakes. Just box smart. That’s our plan. That’s the plan Jeff came up with. Be responsible defensively and score. Use our boxing

Oscar alleges that this fight will prepare him for the speed and elusiveness of Floyd Mayweather, who he has a planned September rematch with. Does Forbes have the ability to score the huge upset? Does he have any advantages being the smaller guy?

“Absolutely. I think Oscar had his biggest problems with the smaller guys. Pernell Whitaker, natural lightweight. Shane Mosley, lightweight champion who had just moved up in weight to fight him. Floyd Mayweather, natural lightweight. Ike Quartey is a small guy. Oba Carr. I think smart boxers give him trouble. I think Oscar likes challenges. On paper, people think ‘oh, he has some boxing ability but he’s the smaller guy’. But see Oscar don’t look at it that way. He’s thinking this kid is a smart boxer. He’s whooping up my guys in Demetrius Hopkins and Bojado. Yeah people will say this and that but Oscar and Floyd, Sr.? They know. Sr. trained me for years and years. I think Oscar wants to see if he can outsmart me. That’s my game 100%. Oscar can fall back on his punching power. My game is being smart. I think that will be the plan for him, see if he can overpower me and see if he can make me fight his fight.”

As far as Oscar’s strengths, Forbes said, “I see his greatest strength is he’s a good puncher. I think he has a lot of determination. Despite being a millionaire a hundred times over, he’s a determined fighter. When he gets in that mode, he’s a fighter. I see some weaknesses. Lapses in concentration. Inactivity. He doesn’t fight often. He has problems with smart boxers.

“Overall, I think he is good for boxing. There are plenty of big fights out there. None are bigger than Oscar. He is the face of boxing whether he will lose 20 times or not. It doesn’t matter. He is good for the sport.”

Forbes seems every bit as relaxed, yet focused, for this fight as any other in his career. When asked where this relaxed demeanor came from, Forbes closed with, “Relaxation is just attitude. Being... me from birth. Everything was so tense as a kid. Is he going to make it? Is he not? I was always relaxed and don’t worry about it.”

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