Margarito-Mosley: Overwhelming Force vs. Aging Slugger

Miguel Cotto23.01.09 - By Greg Wong: This coming Saturday, fight fans will be treated to another battle between an aging legend Shane Mosley, and the current welterweight WBA Champion, Antonio Margarito. Margarito has overwhelmed opponents so far with his power and his ability to apply steel melting pressure. Shane Mosley is no stranger to such pressure and has been on both ends, most recently against tough but limited Ricardo Mayorga. Will this fight show the 2nd coming of Julio Cesar Chavez or the return of a legend?

Antonio Margarito obviously is no Julio Cesar Chavez, at least not yet, but possesses a decent jab, which with his height, makes it harder for a shorter opponent to land an overhand right. He mostly uses the jab to force an opponent to move, into a position where he can force the mano-a-mano exchanges which Antonio thrives on. Being a taller fighter committed to body shots, he is susceptible to hooks as shown against Cotto but so far, Antonio’s chin has not shown any signs of weakness.. Vaunted left uppercut is a bruising weapon, particularly against shorter opponents like Cotto. Margarito picks up speed with his combinations in the later rounds, which is particularly discouraging to his opponents.

Antonio has strong basics, but as shown against Cotto, his head movement is somewhat lacking. His gloves are not always in the right place when he reaches down to punch, and has been relying on the strength of his chin thus far against sharp counterpunches. He can be redirected by subtle pushes into bad positions, as shown against Cotto and Clottey. His punches are occasionally wide and telegraphic and Antonio has no real incentive to change as his methods have worked against his opponents thus far. He is the bull with 2 goring horns, and no backpedal.

Thanks to his discipline and work ethic, Mosley has retained most of the speed, athleticism and conditioning for which he is renowned. Great talent and work ethic are seldom paired as well as in Mosley’s case, and few boxers have extended their career as far. Mosley still has explosive speed, good footwork and power. Mosley’s boxing skills has been nurtured in the furnace of LA’s boxing gyms, and Antonio’s style is no mystery for Mosley. Unlike Mayorga, Antonio’s style is steady, repetitive and telegraphic. Mosley has seen this style many times and should be as well prepared for it as anyone with his experience.

Mosley’s faults however, have exposed him as more of a fighter than boxer. His defensive faults, shielded by his once-supernatural handspeed and offense, have now become glaringly obvious as Mosley has aged. His glove placement is perhaps even worse than Antonio’s, and he has aged, his head movement has also worsened. He has become far more susceptible to the overhand right, one of Antonio’s favorite setup weapons, and has problems with a good jabber, ala Vernon Forrest. Coming out of a clinch, he tends to go straight back, which would be disastrous for an opponent like Antonio coming in with a right hand. He relies overly on winging the right hand after the jab, which had worked before due to his overwhelming speed but now has become fairly telegraphic.
Against Mosley, Margarito knows that Mosley has power in any given round and thus must rely on his jab to force Mosley on the backfoot. Mosley’s jab is not particularly worrisome, so Antonio knows he can walk thorough it to impose his game on the inside with bodyshots. Mosley does not fight well going backwards and relies on his footwork to create the space he needs. Margarito is adept at cutting off the ring and forcing the exchanges he craves, so Mosley would need to keep his hands firmly up and counter Margarito’s slower and occasionally wide punches with his still useful overhand right and left hook. He will need to impose his power from the start, and force Margarito to respect his space, something that hard punchers Cotto and Cintron have failed to do.

Unless Mosley learns to use his jab as something other than a probe, and use the clinch as a method of pacing and shutting down Margarito’s offense, Margarito is guaranteed a decision win in his usual mauling style.

Article posted on 23.01.2009

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