2000-2009 Welterweight Championship Summary As It Relates to Margarito-Mosley plus fight Analysis!

shane mosleyBy Samuel Rivera - If there were more fighters today as willing as Shane Mosley is to fight the best, boxing would be thriving as a sport. Mosley’s down to earth personality, and a never ‘back down from a challenge’ mentality is what has kept him as one of the likable guys of the sport.

Mosley A True Champion

Shane Mosley (45-5, 38 Ko’s), in the eyes of this observer was the greatest lightweight of my lifetime. He won the IBF version of the lightweight world champion in 1997, by defeating a then undefeated Phillip Holiday. His entire career as a lightweight culminated in a stellar 32-0 run with 30 knockouts.

After his stellar run as a lightweight decided to move up into the welterweight division, where he scored his career signature victory with a split decision over Oscar De La Hoya in the year 2000.. De La Hoya was the recognized world champ at the weight since Felix Trinidad had abandoned the division to pursue the junior middleweights. So beating the man made Mosley the recognized champ at welter and officially, the WBC welter weight champ.

He would go on to defend the title three times in impressive fashion, Antonio Diaz being one of his victims during that stint (I bring Diaz up because Margarito’s welterweight reign would begin by defeating him); at the time the sky seemed the limit for young Mosley.

Mosley alongside Felix Trinidad and Roy Jones Jr.. was a front runner for the pound for pound king title at the time. Mosley had it all; speed, power and an entertaining style, comparisons to Ray Robinson weren’t uncommon among members of the press at the time.

Mosley’s Welterweight Reign Ends

All was well for Mosley until in 2002 he ran into the fists, and some would add the head of Vernon Forrest, suffering a knockdown and lopsided decision lost to his former amateur nemesis.

Mosley went right into the rematch, mostly fueled by the belief that the head butt prior to the right hand that sent him down in their first encounter was the reason for the loss. In part Mosley did much better in the rematch but still lost a closer decision. Forrest was Mosley’s kryptonite, as he was a six foot tall welterweight with an educated jab, and a text book right hand. All in all Forrest proved to be a stylistic nightmare for the shorter Mosley.

It is after his defeat to Forrest that Mosley leaves the welterweight division, and it is during Forrest brief welterweight reign that the division becomes a muddy affair.

Enter Antonio Margarito

The TJ Tornado’s first title bid would come against the underrated WBO welter champ at the time Daniel Santos; Santos was a six foot welterweight, with power in both hands.

The fight started with fireworks until a head butt caused by the clash of southpaw vs. righty style matchup, ended the fight in a first round NC. After the fight Santos (who god only knows how he made the welterweight limit) moves up to 154 (like Mosley), while Margarito at the tender age of 22 stays at welter to fight Antonio Diaz for the vacated WBO belt in 2002.

It was a war… Diaz hit Margarito with everything but the kitchen sink, Diaz was a puncher, a heavy one, his shots were very thudding , and yet Margarito was unfazed, he kept the pressure up and eventually Diaz, went down to a barrage of uppercuts (perhaps Cotto should have studied that tape, as he would go on to suffer a similar fate.)

A Title Reign in the Shadows

Thus Antonio Margarito’s welterweight reign begins; it didn’t have the bells and whistles that it probably deserved as Forrest was still considered the man, because he had beat the man who beat the man.

But time was on Antonio’s side, as he was the youngest title holder at the time in the division, and time would prove that all along Margarito’s championship reign was as legitimate as the one Forrest had earned from Mosley.

Forrest reign was brief, too brief, in his second title defense against Wild Man Ricardo Mayorga (who had earned the WBA strap, from chinny Adrew “Six Heads” Lewis), he ran into right hand from hell from the aforementioned Mayorga that sent him to the showers in three.

At this point in time Mayorga was the unified WBA and WBC world welter champ, but in retrospective (and hindsight is always 20/20) Mayorga wasn’t as formidable as Margarito.

Mayorga would have probably been TKO’d by Antonio in a slugfest, and Don King was probably aware of the risk of taking on such an opponent, so after Mayorga narrowly defeated Forrest in a rematch, Margarito was bypassed in favor of …Corey Spinks .

Corey Spinks brings to the table his IBF strap, and defeats Mayorga with some help from the referee, and promptly he is declared by the media as the undisputed welterweight champ, apparently the boxing world had forgotten that as of December 14, 2003, the “real” welterweight championship had passed through three different fighters, while Margarito’s WBO championship reign remained undisturbed and well, during the same period Forrest, Mayorga, and Spinks exchanged titles, Margarito had gone on a 3-0 stint, which included two successful title defenses (the remaining bout took place at 154).

Alas Margarito’s opposition was not stellar, but he did was he was supposed to do, take care of his mandatory defenses. It wasn’t Margarito’s fault if Don King didn’t want any of his prized belt holders near the Mexican fighter. Quietly and in the shadows Margarito was putting together the first successful welterweight title run since the days when Felix Trinidad ruled the welters.

Mean while Corey Spinks, was steered towards a fight with another Don King fighter…Zab Judah.

Judah who had posted a few wins as a welter, gave Spinks all he could handle in a losing effort. Spinks would defend the title one more time, before facing Judah again in 2005.

The welterweight madness would continue as Judah manages to TKO Spinks in 9 (to this date his only win on the big stage) and earn the “Undisputed” Welter weight championship. This is an area where the Ring magazine ratings need to be revised as the Ring title had passed through 4 different hands from 2002 to February, 19, 2005. In that same period of time Margarito, had gone on a 5-1 run, 4-0 in welterweight title fights, and his only loss came at the hands of Daniel Santos at 154.

And that loss to Santos was again inconclusive as Santos came into ring that night as a light heavyweight, and while he was winning on this writer’s score card at the time of the stoppage (due to another accidental headbutt), it was clear that Santos was fading, and Margarito was coming on strong while winning rounds.

So it is very possible that his stint could have been 6-0, had Margarito been given the chance to continue and win the last 3 rounds. I had Santos up by 1 round at the time of the stoppage with three rounds still left to be fought.

Perhaps that 3rd encounter between them will happen soon, since Santos now has a world title at 154. The issue with the Ring ratings here is that Judah, had no obligation to fight Margarito, and therefore he didn’t face him, but at this point it was safe to assume that the real champ at 147 was Antonio and at the very least, while Zab was a champion he wasn’t really undisputed, and no one could declare to be such thing when Margarito was alive, well, and had yet to be dealt with.

Ironically it was Zab Judah’s title winning effort which prompted Mayweather to move up in weight in order to win the “undisputed”, not so undisputed championship. However Zab had only to get past slow as molasses Carlos Baldomir, in order for that match up to come into fruition.

So in January 2006, the so called undisputed welterweight title becomes more disputed as Judah for all his talents, does not get past the hard chinned but light punching Baldomir. Mayweather still goes ahead with the Judah fight, and defeats him. He then moves on to fight the “real” welter weight champ, no, not Margarito, but Baldomir. As foreseen by most experts Mayweather does a number on him and at the dawn of 2006 Mayweather is considered by the mainstream as the “real” welterweight champion.

So let’s keep track since 2002 Mayweather’s “real” title had passed through *gasp* 6 different sets of hands, during that same period of time, Margarito had put together an impressive 8-1 run, while being 7-0 in Welterweight title fights. Who was the real welterweight champ? The question was never answered as Floyd preferred the less risk higher reward fights against De La Hoya and Hatton, rather than to face the longest reigning welter weight champ since Felix Trinidad.

As fate would have it Margarito’s reign wouldn’t surpass the undefeated streak of title defenses that Trinidad had, (we might never see another welter reign as long and as impressive as Tito’s), but it was as close as any welter has gotten since Trinidad’s departure from the division.

In 2007 Margarito ended up losing a close decision to Paul Williams, while at the same time Cotto was beginning his reign with a victory over Carlos Quintana. Quintana would later go on to defeat Paul Williams, giving the public and the critics the impression that Cotto was in the first half of 2008 the true welter weight champion. With Williams busy successfully fighting Carlos Quintana (In the rematch). Cotto was left to fight Margarito for the perceived real welterweight championship.

And fight they did in July 2008 to boxing fans delight, with Margarito coming out the winner by way of TKO in 11th in a thriller. Williams and Margarito being successful in their bids and with Money Mayweather retired, the most meaningful fight at welter became clear. However before that happens, Margarito must get by Mosley (not as easy a task as many may think) and by Cotto (Not an easy task either as demonstrated by their epic first encounter) on the summer.

This brings us to the fight at hand, Margarito vs. Mosley on Saturday January 24th on PPV, funny how events going all the way back to the year 2000, have lead to this match.

The Analysis

Mosley, at age 37 will fight the most dangerous welterweight champion right now, in perhaps a match that might have happened 5 or 6 years ago had Mosley gotten by Forrest. If Mosley is willing to take on the TJ Tornado now that he has seen better days, he (Shane) probably would have taken on him when he was on his prime. De La Hoya had the option of facing Margarito but decided on the easier smaller Pacquiao (Boy did that backfire big time!) instead. So it is up to Mosley to save face for Golden Boy, after the Pacquiao disaster and finish a hall fame career on the highest note it could possibly end.

On the other corner Margarito at age 30 is finally getting his due, in terms of money and accolades, and if he wishes to continue the success parade he will have to beat Mosley, and perhaps look good while doing it too.

Height: Mosley is listed as 5’9” with a 74” reach, Margarito is listed as 5’11” with a 73” reach.

Advantage: Being the taller man, is not always an advantage when it comes to fist fighting but in this case it is. Margarito has never lost to a shorter man, and Mosley had previous struggles against the taller Wright, and Forrest. Not to say that he can’t beat taller guys, he defeated De La Hoya a tall welterweight while Oscar was on his prime.

Weight wise both will weight in at 147, 24 hours before fight time. Mosley is a stocky welter, but Margarito will probably enter the ring as the heavier man that night, again advantage Margarito, as strength will be one of the keys to success in the fight for both fighters..

Punching Power: Both fighters have a great percentage of victories coming by way of KO, however upon closer inspection of their fights you will realize that neither Margarito nor Mosley are one punch KO artists. They both hit hard enough to leave a lasting impression on opponents, and they are both body snatchers. At their best they break down opponents over the course of a fight, forcing a late round stoppage.

Advantage: Margarito. You have to believe that the larger, natural welter (some would say he is more of a middleweight) has the heavier hands, while Mosley can pack a punch with his quick left hook (especially if the opponent doesn’t see it coming), when was the last time he KO’d an elite fighter? Vargas and Mayorga were both ruined by Trinidad, and later buried by Oscar before Mosley got to them.

Chin: Both Fighters have demonstrated an extraordinary ability to receive punches to head during their careers, Mosley was hurt by Forrest in their first encounter and was sent down (while a case could be made that it was a headbutt that did the damage) to the canvas. Margarito was wobbled during his rematch with Santos at 154 (A case can be made that Santos was a light heavyweight that night) but remained on his feet.

Advantage: Margarito. Margarito has taken punches from bigger bangers, the punishment he absorbed during the Cotto fight was unreal, and then again the shots he took from Antonia Diaz back 2002 were unreal too. What wins this category for Margarito is the Cotto barometer; Cotto’s punching power earned Mosley’s respect during their bout, effectively keeping Mosley from closing the show when Cotto was gassed out in the final rounds of the fight. Mosley upped his pressure as Cotto faded, but was cautious as he had felt Cotto’s shots during the bout.

On the flipside Cotto’s power shots didn’t faze Margarito at all; the Mexican seemed unconcerned about the shots he was taking as he pressed forward towards his 11 round TKO victory.

Speed: Margarito is slow but he is a very effective stalker, he does a great job of cutting off the ring, while throwing punches and this ability has made him successful against many faster fighters. Mosley is his polar opposite, a speed demon since his early days.

Advantage: Mosley. He is the fastest fighter (probably) Margarito has fought, perhaps a tad quicker in the hand speed department than the aforementioned Cotto. At 37 Mosley doesn’t throw the fluid combinations he once did, and he has become more of a static target, however he still should have enough quickness and speed to out maneuver Margarito not unlike Cotto was doing during the first half of their 2008 encounter. Even if he doesn’t pull it off with as much grace as Cotto did because….

Stylistic Matchup: People confuse speed with technical ability, and slickness. If speed equaled technical mastery of the sport, Zab Judah would be undefeated today. Mosley is not and has never been even on his prime a technician or a ‘slickster’. Cotto while slower than Mosley was able to out box him and at outslug him before getting tired, and even while tired he was effectively negating much of Mosley’s offense, because his jab was superior to Mosley’s.

In theory a fighter with the physical gifts of Shane Mosley, should be able to box Margarito for 12 rounds. But in boxing many intangibles can determine the outcome of a fight. Mosley is not too different from Cotto, he is less technically proficient than the Puerto Rican, but has the better chin and better stamina.

For Mosley, a victory depends in the answer to two questions: Can he follow Cotto’s game plan on his way to win 8 or 9 out of the twelve rounds and then hold on for dear life until he hears the final bell? And being that he isn’t as good in combination punching at this stage as Cotto is, can he pop Margarito with a combo, and tie him up before he fires his return volley in order to save himself from punishment while preserving energy?

Margarito is a nightmare for smaller boxers not necessarily because of his style (Boxers usually thrive against slow come forward fighters), but because of his, power, punch assortment, chin and stamina. Margarito will pursue, pursue, purse until the either the final bell rings or his opponent falls under the constant pace that he sets.

Unlike many power punching fighters that only punch when they see openings, Margarito punches all the time, whether he lands or not, he is spending energy yes, but if he doesn’t get you with his 4th shot, he will get you with his 5th or his 6th shot, and that single shot he hits you with will take its toll slowly maybe but surely.

As a fighter having to move from and counter 6 or 7 shots at a time is a tiring affair, but when your own shots don’t seem to faze and damage the Mexican terminator, the psychological pressure adds itself into the equation and that only helps your body to tire.

Suddenly when tired, the once seemly slow shots from Margarito, begin to find their range, and to land consistently, this is the position Cotto found himself in and likely the position Mosley will find himself in upon entering the later stages of the fight.

Advantage: Even. Mosley in theory is Margarito’s Kryptonite, but then again so was Cotto ( who was the better technical boxer), but when you throw in the fact that Margarito, has an unnatural ability to take punishment, long arms with power, surprising ability to sneak uppercuts on the inside even though he would seem better suited for fighting on the outside, and a varied offensive arsenal, in which he can throw straight and looping punches with equal effectiveness, Mosley’s advantages of hand and foot speed suddenly doesn’t like much of an advantage…

Prediction: Mosley needs to be smart, he cannot lay on the ropes like Cotto did at times and exchange punches with Margarito, because he might win the exchanges early by being quicker at the trigger (like Cotto was), but that one or two body shots that Margarito will sneak in those exchanges will make it a costly affair for Mosley in the later rounds. Mosley won’t slow down Margarito by hitting his head, even if he establishes a jab, as Cotto whose jab is superior to Mosley’s wasn’t able to stop Margarito from coming forward with his.

Mosley must succeed were Cotto did not, he must establish a body attack of his own, something that won’t be easy as the ever present threat of eating an uppercut will be there (the uppercut was the reason Cotto didn’t insist in establishing his own body attack), then again Cotto tends to bend down, Mosley is more of a straight up guy, that seemly small stylistic difference can make a huge difference against Margarito, because if he can take away the right uppercut from Tony, he would have gone a long way towards winning the fight. Finally he must tie Margarito up, after a successful combination; this will take away Margarito’s return volley and preserver his stamina.

Tying Margarito up after every combination won’t look pretty but an ugly win is better than pretty loss, and as long as the referee lets him do it, he should use this tactical trick as it has helped far less talented fighters like John Ruiz and Ricky Hatton (before I receive any hate comments for putting Hatton in the same sentence as Ruiz, Hatton fans know in their heart of hearts that Ricky is a practitioner of the tying art and there is no shame in that) achieve success when they have been pitted in against more talented practitioners of the fistic arts. I am sure Mosley will come in tip toe shape, he always does.

Margarito will be Margarito, he will come to do what he always does, and because it is very unlikely Mosley will tie him up after exchanges (Tying fighters up isn’t a Mosley thing to do) and fight a perfect technical fight (he has never been a technician) it will seem safe that Margarito will overwhelm Mosley much like he did Cotto and perhaps stop him late. It won’t be the mismatch some claim it will be, and it would surprise me but not shock me if Mosley pulls out a decision win. God Bless them both on that night and may they come out with their health intact, may the best man win!

Article posted on 21.01.2009

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