Why Mosley will beat Margarito

Shane MosleyBy Geoffrey Ciani, Antonio Margarito Work Out Video courtesy of John Martinez, Merciless and relentless, Antonio Margarito shocked the boxing world when he emerged victorious in his clash against the previously unbeaten Miguel Cotto. It was a career-defining moment for the Tijuana pugilist who literally absorbed everything Cotto could dish out, before wearing him down for a late round stoppage. So thorough and complete was his victory that Margarito is now bestowed with an aura of invincibility. The question becomes, is his new status as an elite fighter entirely warranted? Or was this just a matter of a bad style match-up for Cotto? An answer should present itself this weekend.

Antonio Margarito is a freakishly big welterweight who utilizes his size advantage to wear out opponents. He is a poor defensive fighter who is easy to hit and largely lacking when it comes to technical skills and tactical prowess. Take away his size advantage and he becomes a very ordinary fighter, as evidenced by his fights against taller foes Daniel Santos and Paul Williams. Considering his history of success against smaller fighters, conventional wisdom suggests Margarito should have few problems with aging superstar, Sugar Shane Mosley. Conventional wisdom, however, is often a prelude to an upset.

When Margarito enters the ring against Mosley this Saturday, the majority of observers are expecting a replay of his bout with Cotto. After all, not only did Cotto defeat Mosley, but in the eyes of many, Mosley struggled in his last encounter against Ricardo Mayorga. Few people regard the fading Mayorga on the same plateau as Margarito. Since Mosley “struggled” with Mayorga and already lost to Cotto, who was bludgeoned by Margarito, then how on earth can any reasonable person expect Mosley to beat this seemingly unstoppable Tijuana force?

For starters, many seem to forget that Cotto’s victory over Mosley was razor-thin. Many observers, myself included, actually believe Mosley did enough to win that fight, and even those who had Cotto on top are quick to concede it was a very close contest that probably warranted a rematch. Besides, even if the win was more decisive, everyone knows that styles make fights, and when A beats B and B beats C, that does not necessarily dictate that A will beat C. See Bernard Hopkins systematic destruction of Kelly Pavlik.

Style-wise, Mosley will present a different set of obstacles for Margarito. Chief amongst them, Mosley is more durable than Cotto, and that is to say, he can endure more punishment. Mosley has never been stopped in his professional career, and has proven to have an outstanding chin with tremendous recuperative powers. He is also better at preventing his opponent from cutting the ring off, which probably means he will be less apt to get caught on the ropes as frequently as Cotto. Additionally, a strong argument can be made that Mosley’s best punches carry more pop than Cotto’s, and I expect Mosley to have more success attacking the body, which should help slow Margarito down. Making matters more interesting, Mosley still appears to be a cut above Cotto in the stamina department.

Many who doubt Mosley are quick to point to his recent victory against Mayorga. According to some, Mosley struggled with the fading Mayorga—this was in stark contrast to Mayorga’s previous big fights against Oscar De La Hoya and Felix Trinidad, both of whom stopped him quicker than Mosley. It took Mosley until the last second of the last round to finally finish the Nicaruaguan pugilist. People seem to forget, however, that Mayorga was always an inconsistent fighter. Not only did his fight against Mosley represent one of his best efforts since his victories over Vernon Forrest, but Mayorga also entered the ring at an unofficial weight of 170—and that’s huge! Mayorga might not throw as many punches as Margarito, but he certainly hits harder, and Shane absorbed his best shots without too much trouble.

In the end, I see the beginning of this fight unfolding much like Margarito’s fight with Cotto. I imagine Mosley’s superior boxing skills will see him jump to an early lead, much like Cotto did. Unlike Cotto, however, I do not believe Mosley will succumb to the relentless pressure applied by Margarito. Instead, I believe Mosley will make better use of the ring and better use of his energy—I do not envision Mosley throwing the sheer volume of combinations that I believe ultimately wore Cotto down. Mosley will take a more intelligent approach so that he can save himself for late in the fight, and if he manages to do this, I suspect he will have built a big enough lead to walk away the winner.

Of course, it is always possible that Mosley’s age will finally catch up to him, but I do not believe Father Time will get the best of him just yet. Mosley might not be able to hurt Margarito, but in order to win, he will not necessarily need to. After all, Cotto built a convincing lead through the half-way point, and despite hitting Margarito with everything but the kitchen sink, he never once seriously hurt his bigger Mexican foe. Expect Mosley to put on an impressive performance that re-relegates Margarito to his pre-Cotto status—which is to say, very good but very limited. Mosley UD

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Article posted on 22.01.2009

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