Mosley’s perseverance pays off
Shane Mosley (right), here taking it to Antonio Margarito, put on a performance for the ages by dominating and stopping the tough beltholder to win his fifth major title. Photo / Tom Hogan-hoganphotos.com
LOS ANGELES – This is why Shane Mosley persevered.
After consecutive losses to Vernon Forrest, we were convinced he was done. After two straight losses to Winky Wright, we figured that’s it. After he lost to Miguel Cotto – the same Cotto who was knocked out by Antonio Margarito – and looked shaky against Ricardo Mayorga, we were sure it was over.
Thirty-seven-year-old Shane Mosley beat mighty Antonio Margarito? Ha.
Well, Mosley always envisioned what we witnessed on Saturday night at Staples Center even if we didn’t. He believed going into the fight that he remained one of the best fighters in the world and would prove it because he had the tools needed to beat his monster-like opponent and take his WBA welterweight title.
And, believe it or not, that’s exactly what he did.
Mosley, overflowing with the vigor of his youth, did what we all were certain was impossible – he knocked out the man with the granite chin. More than that, he did it in such spectacular fashion that it took your breath away. Afterward, the 20,820 fans at Staples Center seemed to be a satisfying blend of stunned and exhilarated.
As crazy as it seems, Mosley (46-5, 39 KOs) might’ve turned in the finest performance of his 51-fight, 15-year career this night, a victory that undoubtedly lifted him back into elite status and dispelled any doubt about whether he belongs in the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
And he wasn’t the least bit surprised.
Immediately after Margarito’s corner threw in the towel 43 seconds into the ninth round, Mosley, expressionless, simply walked to the center of the ring and calmly bowed to all four sides of the arena. It was as if a great pianist had just turned in a virtuoso performance, which is how it seemed.
It was a masterpiece.
“Not everybody could beat him,” Mosley said in the ring immediately after the fight. “You have to be a special person to beat him. And that person was me.”
Mosley had told us exactly that going into the fight.
He said he had the right style for Margarito (37-6, 27 KOs). He said he would win with his quickness and resilience. He had no doubt.
At the weigh-in on Friday, he seemed to be giddy even in light of the doubters and all his personal problems, including a pending case involving his admitted use of performance-enhancing drugs. He mugged for the cameras, flexed his considerable muscles and couldn’t stop smiling, as if he knew something that no one else did.
This would be a great moment for him because of his ability and a good game plan and he couldn’t wait for it to happen.
Mosley did have the perfect strategy and executed it beautifully. He consistently beat Margarito to the punch, landing hard, crisp shots before his baffled opponent could respond. He held Margarito when he got inside. He was able to handle anything Margarito dished out because of his own formidable chin.
And, perhaps overlooked more than anything else, Mosley proved that he remains one of the sport’s most-fearless warriors.
At first, when Mosley landed punches, Margarito smiled. However, the smiles faded by mid-fight with Mosley landing at will and Margarito wilting as the crowd, sensing something special, began to go wild. Margarito went down late in the eighth round under a barrage of stinging punches and, badly hurt, couldn’t survive another onslaught in the ninth.
It was just as Mosley’s trainer, Naazim Richardson had drawn it up.
“When you have a great game plan and an excellent athlete, everything works out well,” Richardson said. “ÔÇª We turned his pressure against him and we killed him with it.”
There wasn’t much Margarito and his handlers could say afterward.
The fighter attributed the loss largely to his opponent’s experience; Mosley, he said, knew how to win. The others could only shake their heads and give Mosley his due.
They, too, know what they saw.
“It was one of the nights,” said Ricardo Jimenez, publicist for Margarito’s promoter, “that you have to appreciate how good Mosley really is.”
Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]
Homepage photo by Chris Farina / Top Rank