By Craig Phillips: Many know Steve Forbes as the runner-up on the second season of the Contender. Forbes though is more than a reality TV star; he’s a former IBF super featherweight champion. Since his stint on the show, Forbes has been on the end of a controversial decision against Demetrius Hopkins and came to the UK in May to spar with Ricky Hatton ahead of Hatton’s showdown with Jose Luis Castillo.
SecondsOut met Forbes recently to talk about his experience with Hatton, Junior Witter, the Contender and “that fight” with Hopkins.
SO: How’s your career going at the moment?
SF: "Well, my career’s fine. I just came off of a good performance, although controversial scoring against Demetrius Hopkins. But the whole world knows I won so my career is good at the moment."
SO: Tell me about the fight with Hopkins. A lot of people had you winning, and you’ve said yourself that you felt you won? Talk me through the fight.
"Whenever you throw more punches; land more punches; land harder shots; and land at a higher connect percentage - you are suppose to win. Hopkins is 5’ 11". I’m 5’ 7", so we don’t have the same reach. I was able to outscore him; back him up; make him fight my fight - that’s what happened. Every media person and fan at ringside had me winning the fight pretty handily. The judges just stole it from me and did it shamefully too. They had wide margins...it’s an absolute travesty how they scored the fight. Ten out of ten media boxing writers did a poll and all of those ten people had me winning...the Las Vegas Review Journal will confirm that."
SO: The fight was one of few this year that has caused controversy via the scoring. Do these decisions discredit boxing? And what can be done about these decisions?
SF: "I think they (controversial decisions) do boxing much more harm than good. I think we need a national unbiased commission that has no ties to the promoters and don’t ’do lunch’ with these promoters and look after the safety and the well being of the combatants."
SO: Do you feel Hopkins was given the fight because he was a "home" fighter i.e. being backed by HBO and Golden Boy Promotions?
SF: "I don’t know if he was being backed by HBO, but I know he is being backed by his uncle (Bernard Hopkins) who is President of Golden Boy Promotions East."
SO: Would you meet Hopkins again? How do you think you’d fare?
SF: "Would I meet him again? I already beat him and he knows it; his uncle knows it; Golden Boy knows it. The question should be...would he face me again? You should ask him. I would fight him everyday of the week and twice on Sunday; just give me a fair shake - no more, no less."
SO: What was it like being part of the Contender?
SF: "It was great being a part of the Contender. It has changed my life honestly, and I thank the Contender for that."
SO: How do you think you fared against bigger men in the competition? Was your size a disadvantage to you?
SF: "I fared good because I made it to the finals after being the smallest guy coming into the tournament. Throw away the fact that I was a former champion. I beat junior middleweights (3 out of 4 of them) I used to fight at 130 lbs. That’s where I was champ at and I only lost a split decision against a guy who went the distance with Jermain Taylor, the middleweight champion of the world."
SO: Has the Contender opened doors for you and your career?
SF: "I think the Contender has opened some doors, absolutely."
SO: Are you still in touch with any of the guys from the series?
SF: "I’m in touch with guys like K9 (Cornelius Bundarage), Vinroy Barrett, Gary Balletto, even though I haven’t spoke to him in the last few months, but I speak to a few of the contender guys pretty regularly."
SO: What did you learn from Sugar Ray Leonard during the series? What’s Ray like as a person/mentor?
SF: "I learned one main thing from Sugar Ray and it’s what upsets me about the Hopkins fight. Ray would say ’if you wanted that much more you can have it’ and that’s what I did throughout the contender, and I really did it in the Hopkins fight, but they took it from me."
SO: When can we look forward to seeing you in action again?
SF: "My next fight is September 15th in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand, on HBO PPV again against a Golden Boy fighter Panchito Bojado. I will meet with the Nevada commission about the judges."
SO: How did the sparring with Ricky Hatton come about?
SF: "The sparring with Hatton came about after a guy that works for Ricky called me and we went from there."
SO: How did the sparring go with Hatton? What did you pick up? What did you help Ricky on?
SF: "It went great. It showed me what I already knew...I’m a top fighter at the 140 lbs weight class and it really helped Hatton get ready for Castillo."
SO: Are his body punches really THAT hard?
SF: "Hatton punches to the body good, but I know how to defend there, so I can’t say that he bothered me. But he did send one guy to the doctor’s office, so that says a lot about his body attack."
SO: Do you think you’d beat any of the guys in the world top ten at junior welterweight?
SF: "I think I’d beat any of the guys at 140 lbs without a doubt...no worries at all."
SO: Is there anybody you wouldn’t fancy out there?
SF: "Is there anybody I wouldn’t fancy? Hmmmm… well I hate the way Junior Witter fights - disgusting. I have no problem with the show boating thing. Hell. I show boat some time too. I loved watching the Prince, but there’s only one person that could do that like that, and back it up with one punch, and that’s Naseem Hamed. No other fighter could be that awkward and sell it to make people watch."
SO: What are your hopes for the future? Do you think you can become world champion once more?
SF: "My hopes for the future is to win another championship. I’m in my prime now...I’ve just turned 30 years-old about four months ago, so I’m ready for whatever."