Today was an absolutely beautiful day in Southern
California, with the warm sunshine and clear blue skies that can come right
after an overnight rain. Most would be spending this Saturday outdoors enjoying
different activities, or if that was impossible, wishing that they were. It was
different for me.
Instead, I chose to be inside a closed gym. Why? Because I
had been waiting to speak with Steve Forbes in person since before the
holidays. I knew he was coming to train at Freddie Roach’s Wild Card Boxing Club,
but his trip to the West Coast was delayed. Now that he had made it to Los
Angeles I wanted to watch him train a bit and then do my interview. The day
Steve invited me down just happened to be a bigger day for him than normal –
Forbes was sparring with the Pound For Pound King, Manny Pacquiao, and I was
allowed to be a part of the experience.
Steve Forbes before he sparred with Manny Pacquiao at Wild Card Boxing Club.
Barbara Pinnella photo
Every boxing fan knows that Manny has a big fight against
Joshua Clottey at Cowboy Stadium in Texas on March 13th. But Forbes
has a fight of his own on the 6th in Uncasville, Connecticut, facing
off against Harrison Cuello. Ironically, that fight is one year to the day
since he had his last fight. I couldn’t help but notice that and he was aware
of it as well. “Yeah, it will probably go right down to the minute I enter the
ring,” he said, smiling.
I was curious why it has been so long for Steve between
fights. “I just couldn’t get the fights, and I was with The Contender
promotional company, and they were dissolving. They weren’t doing any fights,
and then with them dissolving and finally letting all the guys go, I signed
with Don King. I just had to wait for him to do another show. Hopefully I have
a heavy few months, because I would love to fight.”
In the last five fights his opponent Cuello has had, he has
lost four of them, with a draw in the fifth. But don’t let that fool you
completely. He has not been fighting cupcakes the whole time. One of those
loses came at the hands of Vanes Martirosyan who, with a record of 27-0,
presently holds two titles.
“He’s been fighting some tough guys,” Forbes told me, “but
he’s always dangerous. I think with me coming back down to 140 pounds that he’s
the perfect opponent, being that he’s a left-hander. Most of the guys at 140
are left-handers, Devon Alexander, Juan Urango, Joel Casamayor now at 140
pounds. So I think it’s a good fit for my re-introduction back to 140 pounds,
fighting a pretty tough, durable guy.”
Steve is in a good place right now, figuratively and
literally. “I feel really good about the fight, and I’m in the perfect place to
train for a fight. I’m getting good chemistry with Freddie Roach, and everybody
here has been great.”
Forbes did not rush out to L.A. at first mention, however.
“Well, it’s kind of funny. My manager (Mike Levy) comes here every day, he’s
from L.A., and he’s been telling me for years to come down here and train. When
we found out I was going to be fighting a left-hander, he told Freddie that I
wanted to come out here and train, and asked if there were some left-handed
sparring guys. Roach told him yes, and that I could even do a few rounds with
Freddie had another instruction. He did not want Steve to
act like Clottey, just to be himself and to prepare for his own fight.
I wanted to make sure I was right, and that this was the
first time that Forbes had stepped in the ring with Pacquiao. “No, never boxed
with him before. This will be my third time sparring, but not with Manny. I’ve
got a couple more weeks left before I leave.”
Steve eventually sparred four strong rounds with Manny. He
later told me that the lessons he is learning from the entire experience is
invaluable, which comes as no surprise to me at all. Forbes, as experienced as
he is, is ready and willing to take it all in. He is a class act.
Michael Dallas, Jr. at Wild Card Boxing Club.
Barbara Pinnella photo
Another acquaintance of mine who sparred with Pacquiao on
this day was Michael Dallas, Jr., who is fighting at Pechanga Resort and Casino
in Temecula, California on March 5th. He went three rounds, and has
matured so much as a fighter, it was really fun to see.
The opponent that was originally listed for him is now a
no-go, and he doesn’t know the name of the one he has now. “I heard he’s 26 or
27 years old, and is a Mexican style fighter. But I’m sparring with the best,
so I'm going to put on a good show.”
Unlike Forbes, Dallas has history with Manny. “This is my
second camp back. I sparred with him before the de la Hoya fight. I’ve been
here for four weeks now. I’m learning a lot. When I make mistakes he corrects
me, so it’s a learning experience, and I’m getting better and better as I go.”
The best of luck to Steve and Michael in their respective
fights, and thanks to them for taking the time to speak with me. A little extra
thank you to Steve and Mike Levy for helping me pull this off, and of course,