Jan 27, 2009

Sometimes it’s good to be wrong: Shane Mosley Vs Antonio Margarito

OK, I will admit that I was going to write a pre-fight build up for this fight, but I didn’t get around to it though to be honest, if you needed any extra incentive to watch this fight, then you’re not that much of a boxing fan. Even on paper, it seemed like a great fight, and I’m so happy it didn’t disappoint one iota. So if you have HBO and are interested, you’re second chance to watch it is tonight. In case you need a couple of reasons to watch the fight, then just read on about my pre-fight and post fights impressions of this wonderful fight.

First off, if you were one of the ten people that read a post I wrote last year congratulating Antonio Margarito for having beaten Miguel Cotto, then you know I wasn’t too happy about the result though I had to give credit where credit was due. Antonio Margarito showed what a true Mexican Champion is all about. Take all the punishment your opponent can dish out, disregard the pain, gain momentum and ultimately destroy your opponent. True there are many Mexican boxers that are highly skilled pound for pound greats, but few people are as eager to take a punch to give you twenty in return than the Tijuana Tornado. To my memory, only Micky Ward (even if he wasn’t Mexican) was as eager to take a punch so he could give a punch.

Building up to the fight, I had thought three outcomes were possible.

Margarito by decision:
Conventional wisdom stated that Margarito would start slow, build up steam and pressure and force a close decision in his favor. This is what I thought would happen since Margarito is definitely not a one punch knock out guy and Shane Mosley can take a hell of a punch.

Mosley by decision:
I always thought Shane could pull a decision. He has the skills and the chin to stand toe to toe with Margarito and show why he was once the pound-for-pound king.

Margarito by KO late in the fight: A favorite among people still reeling from the Cotto loss. This public belief is what made Antonio Margarito the 4-1 betting favorite.

What happened was anything, but anyone’s guess since I don’t think anyone predicted Mosley winning via KO. As if accomplishing such a knock out weren’t impressive enough, the feat was all that more amazing since it came in under ten rounds. A decisive, clear cut, TKO thanks to one reason, the ref stopped it and the corner threw in the towel. Give him a round or so more of punishment and it would have been a KO victory.

So what happened?

I’ve watched a couple of Margarito fights and to be honest, Tony is either going to kill you, or have a close decision (I said have a close decision, not necesarrily a close decision win). People insisted that Shane Mosley watched the Cotto fight closely to see if he could find anything to beat Antonio. I do think he watched those tapes but guess what, he could also watch tapes of Margarito VS. Paul Williams or more importantly Joshua Clottey VS Margarito. So there you have three tapes of important fights Shane might have used to study his opponent. From the Cotto fight he could learn that footwork was key but that you can’t run all night, especially with Margarito, because you’re eventually going to slow down, and he’s never going to stop. From Williams he saw that combination volume punching could be used to outpunch Antonio Margarito, and from Joshua Clottey (a fight I seriously think Margarito at best eeked out, and quite possibly lost) the key element of a world class jab was enough to frustrate the Mexican from the get go. Oh, might I add that if Clottey hadn’t busted his right hand, he could have put Margarito in a world of hurt.

For those of you who have ever watched an HBO telecast, you’ve probably heard Harold Letterman say the criteria judges use in regards to fights.

Clean effective punching
Effective Aggression
Ring Generalship

Easier said than done, but guess what? Shane Mosley did all of these to gain a washout en route to a KO victory since I couldn’t find a round to give Margarito. Let me explain.

Clean effective punching: For nine rounds, Shane Mosley hit Antonio Margarito with every punch and not only that, it’d been a while since I saw a compact puncher commit so much to his punches. Think Evander Holyfield in his prime. He used his jab effectively, he punched to the body and he showed that you have to punch hard every time but not leave yourself too open.

Effective Aggression: Combination punches were part of the strategy but so was mixing it up. Though many people can make a case that Shane committed to his right hand the most, something I won’t totally debate, no one can say he didn’t through left hooks, hard jabs or punches to the body.

Ring Generalship: Honestly, Sugar Shane should be changed to General Mosley if you ask me. He spun Margarito onto the ropes, clinched effectively (not abusively), punched him when he wanted and with what he wanted to, showed great footwork and never for one second did he allow Antonio to dictate anything in that fight. At the end of the fight he bowed for a reason, it was a damn masterpiece.

Defense: Did Shane get hit? Yes. That’s just the type of fighter he is. He makes for compelling fights and doesn’t bother to play things safe. He’s in there to win by KO and trust me, he looked anything but 37 going into this fight.

Shane did everything right from a boxer’s point of view and a boxing fan’s point of view. He showed the true mettle of a champion and when faced by what should have been a Tijuana Tornado, he simply smiled and beat it down. To be honest, I haven’t enjoyed a knockout that much in a while. Maybe The first Raahman Vs Lewis fight or Zab Judah getting blitzed by one Kostya Tsuy right hand. But this was endlessly more special because no one gave Shane the time of day even after giving Cotto what was until then, his greatest challenge. I’ve tried to rally behind Shane’s opponents but you only need to see him fight and hear an interview to question if you’re able to hold a grudge since he is, as Larry Merchant put it, such an honest fighter. He’s never ducked a fight, he’s always gone for the KO and even though he lost twice against Forrest and twice against Wright, you can’t say he didn’t try.

So though I could offer an apology to Shane Mosley for not fathoming that he could win against Margarito via KO, I’ll just smile as I eat my words and just sit complacently knowing what a pound for pound great really does for a living. Right Floyd?

chirp… chirp…. chirp…

I thought so.

Cheers Shane. You ain’t da man for only one reason...

You been da man for a very long time. We just forgot. Our apologies.


Me said...

Lord. If I had any money I would gladly finance a cool boxing magazine titled Joker on Boxing.

I love these kinds of post because I get so much insight on the one sport I adore, it's ridiculous.

My hat off to the Sugar man. Oh, and I owe you a bottle of wine. Ha.

Bdub said...

Nice write up. Well done.

Check out my Paul Williams blog at:



Joker said...

@ Me: Glad you enjoyed hun. No worries about the bottle though ;)

@ Bdub: Interesting take on Paul Williams on your blog. I didn't know he was going to face Winky Wright at 160 and I think that's quite an interesting matchup since Paul's pressure is going to be pitted against Winky's jab and desire to get uptop again. Not really sure who has the edge and I think it'll all be up to strategy, discipline and either Winky's ability to dictate the fight or Paul's ability to put pressure consistently. Very interesting matchup.

Many thanks for the kudos and wuill check up on your blog to see what else is up with Paul.


Anonymous said...

A great fight. Wish I had watched it live, instead of DVRing it.

(Of course, I also should have avoided ESPN.com and not viewed a text from my buddy reading: "Sugashane! Shocking!")

I don't think we can take anything away from Mosley. Even if Margarito was "off" because of the whole hand-wrapping thing, his ability to absorb punches was still destroyed by Mosley.

I do wonder if Sugar can keep it going - I hope so.

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