CARSON, Calif. — Something weird is bound to happen in the middle of the soccer field at the Home Depot Center on Saturday.
You can feel it.
This is a sport where one guy bit a piece of another's ear off during a fight and wasn't immediately disqualified. It's the same sport where a fan wearing a parachute tried to dive bomb the ring during a title fight and the bout resumed a few minutes later.
Boxing is the sport that produced a guy who began crying uncontrollably in a championship bout and another who said in a post-fight interview that he wanted to eat a potential opponent's children.
With all of that as a backdrop, though, something weird seems like it may happen when Oscar De La Hoya faces Steve Forbes in a non-title welterweight fight on HBO that is designed to be De La Hoya's professional farewell to his Los Angeles fans.
On the one hand, you have Forbes, the little guy who can't punch, talking about how he's stronger than people think and how one shouldn't judge a fighter's punching power by knockouts alone.
Of course, Forbes is probably saying that because he has nine knockouts in 38 fights. I would imagine if he had, oh, 35 knockouts in 38 fights, he'd be saying no such thing.
And then you have De La Hoya, the game's biggest draw, whose primary advantage in the fight is that he's the naturally bigger and stronger man. But instead of taking advantage of the 150-pound limit, De La Hoya claims he's been walking around at 147 the last month and was munching on a carton of blueberries after lunch on Wednesday to prove it.
Preparing De La Hoya for the fight is Floyd Mayweather Sr., the father of the guy he plans to fight next, Floyd Mayweather Jr., as well as the guy who has trained Forbes for the better part of the last three years.
Forbes has been training with the Mayweather family so long, he may understand what Senior wants better than De La Hoya.
"I can tell you things he'll yet out and I know what they are," Forbes said. "He'll tell him, 'Break, left hook, right hand.' That means push me, hit me with a left hook and throw the right hand. I know the codes, so if they're being yelled out to Oscar, I already know what to expect."
He's kind of like Bill Belichick in that regard, then.
Mayweather Sr. is training De La Hoya and not Forbes because De La Hoya pays a whole lot better. He's training De La Hoya and not his son for an entirely different reason.
They've rarely spoken in the past decade and have frequently exchanged very harsh and very public words. Father and son temporarily reconciled about 15 months ago in a Las Vegas hotel room, acting as if nothing had gone on between them, as a pair of reporters watched in astonishment.
But not long after that touching scene, they weren't talking again. Son booted father out of the gym he owns and so father decided he'd be happy to train against son.
And De La Hoya, who had been reticent to get between the family problems, decided to take him up on the offer and brought Mayweather Sr. back for a final go-round.
Their feud won't hurt interest in the upcoming rematch, and that point couldn't have hurt as De La Hoya was mulling whether to rehire Mayweather Sr. But Mayweather Sr. then tried to downplay talk of family feuds and paint the Mayweathers as boxing's version of Ozzie and Harriet.
"I'm just saying that we are not a dysfunctional family," Mayweather Sr. said. "Anybody could have a difference in their family. Dysfunctional families are people that go in there and kill their mama, kill their daddy, kill the whole family, and then maybe want to go over there and cut up the cousins. That's what a dysfunctional family is. It's sick. Just because somebody has a difference in a family, that's not dysfunctional. If that's the case the world is dysfunctional because everybody's got differences in their family."
The family may not be dysfunctional, but the sport sure seems like it is at times. And not all of the strange goings on have involved the fight and the fighters.
The day before the annual boxing writers banquet, news came out that Sports Illustrated's Pat Putnam, one of the association's most revered members, whose 2005 death prompted the membership to pay tribute to him by naming an award for perseverance in his honor, had perpetrated a fraud upon his friends and family.
It turns out that he was never in the Marine Corps, had never been a Prisoner of War and had never won a Purple Heart, as he had claimed.
The organization still presented the award, but declined to mention his name at the banquet.
It's been a weird week. And it may be a weird fight.
Forbes spent much of his career training with the Mayweather brothers, Floyd Sr., Jeff and Roger. He was preparing to use Roger to train him for De La Hoya and had worked with him for three weeks before Floyd Mayweather Jr. intervened.
Mayweather Jr. reminded his uncle that he stood to make millions in fees for his rematch with De La Hoya. And, nephew said to uncle, if you help Forbes beat De La Hoya, you kill the rematch and your own multi-million pay day.
That prompted Roger's resignation and replacement by Jeff Mayweather. Floyd Mayweather Jr. may have tried to block his Uncle Jeff from working Forbes' corner, as well, but they don't speak, either.
And you get the feeling it's going to be that kind of a fight. De La Hoya is an 18-1 favorite at the MGM Grand sports book in Las Vegas, but Mayweather Sr. is heaping praise upon Forbes and warning everyone who will listen that it's going to be a difficult fight.
Mayweather is the guy who usually who recites insult-laden poems at the pre-fight news conference, but he informed the gathering at the Cafe Pinot restaurant that he would eschew the poem because his brother and his friend were on the other side.
It's just weird. And it seems like the weirdness hasn't all left.
There once was a pro wrestling show where the announcer always said dramatically before the broadcast, " … Where anything can happen, usually does and probably will."
It might not be a bad idea if Jim Lampley dusted off that line for use during the HBO broadcast tonight.
He'll seem prescient if he does.
- Oscar De La Hoya