Impressive Mosley Should NOT be Anointed King Just Yet

By Christopher Roche, - The “Sugar” Shane Mosley vs. Antonio Margarito battle proved two things: 1) If tickets are priced reasonably, fans will pack the house and 2) Speed usually kills. In front of a record crowd at Staples Center, Mosley picked apart a gutsy Margarito, on his way to stopping the Mexican warrior in round nine. Despite Mosley’s being a 4-1 underdog, should we be that shocked?

I always thought a good boxer with a proper game plan would beat Margarito decisively, and I picked both Paul Williams and Miguel Cotto to defeat him. Williams, of course, got the job done, while Cotto ran out of gas and succumbed to Margarito’s will. Despite losing, Cotto had the blueprint mostly correct. He boxed and peppered Margarito almost at will for much of the fight. Cotto’s two biggest downfalls were his abandoning the body attack and his willingness to back up against the ropes. Mosley saw this on film, and he did not make the same mistakes. The adjustments that Mosley made on Cotto’s blueprint proved disastrous for Margarito.

Margarito is tough, feared, powerful and courageous, but he is also slow and predictable. Despite Margarito’s shortcomings as a fighter, he was seen as an indestructible force that would wear his opponent down no matter what. The victory over Cotto solidified that theory, and Margarito’s backers in both fandom and the media began implying the Williams loss was a fluke. Margarito is now 3-2 in his last five fights, with one of those wins coming in a tune up bout against Golden Johnson. The Williams loss can no longer be classified as an aberration.

Those of us who picked Williams and Cotto to defeat Margarito were not overly surprised that Mosley won last night, but the nature of the defeat was shocking. Mosley, despite his impressive KO percentage, is not usually seen as a huge puncher, and Margarito has one of the toughest beards in all of boxing. Margarito is only human, however, and infinite, uncontested howitzers to the head and stomach will take their toll on the toughest of men.

Margarito proved his bravery by not quitting on his stool, as his corner would have liked, but he had nothing to prove. Margarito’s heart and courage were never in question. A faster man with sounder skills applied a perfect game plan against him last night, and Mosley’s advantages and planning produced a lopsided result. Margarito’s inability to make adjustments rendered him helpless.

Mosley’s win will be talked about for years to come. It was most unlikely for a 37 year-old veteran to unseat a perceived beast like Margarito. However, despite the impressive nature of the victory, Mosley should not be crowned king of the welterweight division. Mosley has had two victories at 147 in almost four years. He is not a regular in the division, and despite the hype machine; Mosley should not be ranked any higher than #4 in the division.

Until Mosley beats Cotto, Williams, or Clottey, they should all be ranked ahead of him, and as long as there is talk that Floyd Mayweather will come back, he is still the de facto king of the welterweights. We can all agree that Mosley’s victory was impressive, if not Herculean, but we must keep our heads about us and filter out the gushing praise from talking head commentators and emotional scribes. Mosley fought the fight of his life last night, a perfect plan against a willing foil. However, his lack of recent productivity at 147 disqualifies him from being called king of the division, especially since the division is one of the most stacked in boxing.

Article posted on 25.01.2009

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