THE DESTRUCTION OF A MYTH – SUGAR SHANE KO’S MARGARITO BY PHILIP H. ANSELMO
Utilizing the absolutely perfect game plan, freshly crowned WBA welterweight champion “Sugar” Shane Mosely (46-5, 39 KO’s) out-boxed, and knocked out 4-1 betting favorite, and now former champ Antonio Margarito (37-6, 27), 0:43 into the ninth round, whilst looking like an all-time great in the process.
In what was lauded as a mismatch by most boxing insiders going into the fight, proved to be a classic case of what a master boxer can do to a face first brawler. From the outset, Mosely’s game plan of staying chest-to-chest-close to Margarito without excessive holding, smothering his foe’s non-effective punches and countering with pinpoint accuracy, worked like a charm.
Most importantly Shane exploited Margarito’s freight train rushes with a clinical display of distance usage and multiple, rapid fire combinations that disrupted anything Antonio had to offer.
It was a tactical masterpiece on Shane’s behalf, and a notable observation was his use of the clock.
Shane would negate Antonio’s offense and counter for the first two minutes of each round, and then almost to the very second, he’d pour on an offensive burst of meaningful, vicious shots in the final minute, the way only great fighters can do, and have done.
Shane shocked the world! Straight up
I’ll be the first to admit, when the fight was originally announced, the first thoughts that immediately filled my jaded skull were the obvious: Margarito’s too big; Shane’s too old; the toe-to-toe battle Shane fought with Miguel Cotto only to lose a decision, and finally, Margarito’s pressurized destruction of Cotto.
I picked Margarito haphazardly, as did all of my collective colleagues, by late round TKO. There was no chance in Hell a single one of us could’ve predicted what actually transpired in the ring.
As the first two rounds went by, I saw double and triple jabs with the right hand behind it working for Shane. His defense was impeccable, as was his control of the ring. In the third, Margarito attempted to step up his attack to no avail, as Mosley would simply keep out of Antonio’s punching range with far-superior in-and-out footwork, or immediately move inside, shutting down Margarito’s attack completely. To be able to stop the supposedly unstoppable Margarito’s forward progress to such a drastic degree was beyond comprehension, but Shane’s chances of hurting Antonio was another question all together. From the look of Margarito’s past handful of victories, and Mosley’s semi-recent inability to KO top-notch welters, it seemed downright impossible to foresee the occurrence that unfolded.
After the conclusion of round four, a round in which Margarito attempted to box with the boxer, the constant flow of hard right hand leads from Mosley, along with the inability to land a single punch of significance, begat a look of an already frustrated, defeated fighter on Margarito’s face.
Shane had seemingly turned the clock back, harkening his years at lightweight, where he dominated and his speed-equaled power.
And his power on this night was enough to put a dent in the chin of Margarito; a man who’d walked through the punches of most of the so-called “punchers” in the welterweight division, including that of the much-avoided Paul Williams.
Rounds five and six were no better for Margarito, as Mosley increased his power-punch output. As Antonio looked to be tiring, Shane ripped left hooks to his body, and his right hand, which landed at will throughout the fight thus far, looked to have Margarito buzzing.
Round seven was as good as it got for Antonio. After such a hyperactive, round sweeping start, Shane basically took this heat off. Margarito mauled him against the ropes, and threw his best punches of the night. Mosley’s relaxed demeanor and textbook defense prevailed over Antonio’s agro-offensive lunges, which consisted of mostly cuffing shots to the defended head of Mosley. One of Margarito’s right hands managed to sneak through as Shane uncharacteristically pulled straight back, causing Mosley to shake his head in disappointment at his brief lapse in concentration.
The feeling I took away from that moment was that Mosley felt in complete control. He had outclassed Margarito to such an extent over the first half of the fight, it looked Shane could do wrong. If the brief respite Shane took in the 7th appeared to be a sign of exhaustion, his performance in the 8th would dispel such a myth, literally.
With Margarito enjoying his best stand in the previous round, when the bell sounded for round 8, the momentum seemed to be shifting his way. Mosley had other ideas.
With a minute to go, in a much more progressively active effort by a rejuvenated Mosley, a slashing right hand aimed at Margarito’s head missed wildly, but the next one didn’t, and a follow up barrage of homerun shots, capped off by a signature left hook, setting up yet another multiple-punch salvo from Shane, dropped Antonio in a troubled heap. Margarito was given the benefit of the doubt by referee Raul Caiz Jr, by not stopping the fight, and allowing the defeated champion to stumble to his corner at the bell. In truth, such a bold decision by a ref is inexcusable. Margarito was out on his feet, concussed, and in no shape to continue. A proven warrior like Margarito, or any other boxer in the world for that matter, shouldn’t be subject to permanent damage.
A referee should not allow himself to live through a fighters’ courage, when that fighter’s life is at stake.
The issue of Antonio’s wellbeing was the topic of discussion in his corner between rounds. Many of Margarito’s corner men voiced their opinion that the fight be stopped. Alas, Margarito’s pride and toughness proved to be his undoing in round nine.
Mosley jumped right on his injured foe and pinned him against the ropes, delivering more punishment and then punctuating his massive upset with a blunt-force right hand that sent Antonio sprawling to the canvas again, just as the ref stepped in simultaneously as the towel of surrender was thrown from Margarito’s corner to stop the onslaught.
A Mosley-Cotto rematch looks to be a logical next-step for Shane, especially if Miguel wins the vacant WBO strap next week vs. unheralded Michael Jennings. With the likes of WBC champ Andre Berto and IBF kingpin Joshua Clottey out there, HBO should cough up the cash or find it, to cement a welterweight tournament RIGHT NOW! Besides the aforementioned Cotto rematch, Shane vs. young Berto could be a nice little scrap to watch style-wise, and a fight vs. the very strong Clottey may be a winnable contest. Remember, just as Margarito was supposed to be too strong for Mosley, the same adage could be applied if Shane were to face Clottey.
Both fights could be winnable for Shane if his newfound momentum and full-fledged power remain at the level it was in dismantling Margarito. If the hypothetical tournament were to happen, and Mosley became the unified welterweight champ of the world, there’d be no better way to end his already HOF career.
It’s no wonder Floyd Mayweather Jr. wouldn’t fight Shane during his brief, forgettable stint at the top of both, the welterweights and PFP lists back in the day. With all of the talk going around about Floyd returning to the ring vs. the likes of Ricky Hatton or Manny Pacquiao and so forth, to be truthful and point-blank, Hatton is no Mosley, and as far as Pac-Man is concerned, he’d be just another little guy for Floyd to prey on, and more importantly, cash in another huge payday fighting a guy smaller than him, a la Hatton.
I couldn’t give two f%*k’s if Floyd EVER fights again, but if he does, let’s hope for the sake of boxing that he fights a man he has a chance of losing to for a change.
And right now, that man would be the #1 rated welterweight in the world: WBA champion “Sugar” Shane Mosley.
So don’t expect Floyd to come out of retirement anytime soon.
This is Shane Mosley’s story, and this is his time.