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Santos chooses to fight, not sit

Against advice, he takes on a tough foe.

By JOHN C. COTEY

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 17, 2000


David Santos is tired of fighting boredom. Tired of boxing the shadows. Worn out from sparring.

Tonight, he gets to fight the real thing, even if those around him are telling him it's not the real smart thing.

Although his promoter tried vigilantly to talk him out of the fight, as did manager Jim McLoughlin to a lesser degree, Santos steps into the ring against promising young champion Steve Forbes.

The 23-year-old Forbes, an up-and-comer and USBA super-featherweight champion, will defend his title against Santos in a main-event fight at the Motor City Casino in Detroit.

To be televised live at 8 on Fox SportsNet, the fight will be only the second for Santos since a November 1999 loss to WBA champ Joel Casamayor.

The inactivity can be traced to spring hand surgery for the oft-injured Santos, but also to a disagreement between the St. Petersburg fighter, 28, and his promoters. Santos already foresees a court battle to get out of his contract with the company he says won't get him fights.

"I know I've been hurt, but that was for two months," Santos said. "It's the ninth month of the year. They've gotten me no fights."

Santos said his last bout, a fifth-round knockout of journeyman David Turner, was set up by McLoughlin. So was the Forbes fight, originally scheduled for July before Santos pulled out with the flu.

"(Forbes' camp) called us," Santos said. "My promoters didn't want me to take the fight. They get upset when they don't have control. But they let me take it because they didn't have anything else for me."

Santos is tired of waiting for the right fight. But even McLoughlin was hesitant to take the fight against Forbes, a sharp boxer who has a 17-1 record with 14 knockouts.

But the prize was too great to pass up: the vacant No. 2 IBF ranking and a $15,000 payday.

The winner probably will get a shot at No. 1 John Brown, with that winner setting himself up for a shot at current champions Diego Corrales (IBF), Arcelino Freitas (WBO) or Casamayor (WBA).

Forbes is currently No. 5 in the IBF while Santos is No. 8.

"It's a fight I kind of have to take but also I feel I want to take," Santos said. "With a win, it's all about how much you can get off it. I can't sit back and wait forever.

"If given the opportunity with the right amount of money, I'll fight anyone and that's what has happened here. I'm not getting any younger and don't want to be one those people who wait and wait and wait ... I have to beat guys like this to be world champion. I don't fear anyone."

Santos is regarded as one of the hardest-hitting 130-pounders in the world. He has held two fringe titles and had to give up both because injuries prevented him from defending.

To beat Forbes, McLoughlin said, his fighter will have to go right after him and use his power to his advantage.

"I watched Forbes when he fought the guy that replaced David, and he looked tremendous," McLoughlin said. "David has to beat him at his own game. He's very quick, but David is a little quicker and a harder puncher. He has to fight him like he fought Casamayor (in a loss Santos disputes).

"This is really a very, very big fight. Nobody wants to fight Forbes. Nobody."

Except for a guy tired of fighting boredom.

Tonight on TV

St. Petersburg's David Santos faces a USBA champ tonight at 8 on TV.

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