Mosley-Margarito Fight Preview

January 23, 2009

World championship boxing returns to Los Angeles Saturday night, as the Staples Center will host the much-anticipated welterweight title bout between Antonio Margarito, and former three-time world champion "Sugar" Shane Mosley. The fight figures to be a crowd-pleaser, as Margarito will make his first defense of the belt that he brutally took from Miguel Cotto. In matching Mosley against Margarito, fans will be treated to a clash between two of the sport’s tough, experienced, and relentless offensive juggernauts.

For Margarito, many questions abound.

First, how will the 30 year-old Margarito handle the new-found fame and recognition that has arrived with his huge win over Cotto? For years, Margarito toiled in relative obscurity, hoping for a shot at a top-level, household name. Now that he has become the guy in the division, will his new status prove to be more of a curse than a gift?

In other words, will the Tijuana-based "Terror" rest on his laurels and lose the hunger that originally fueled his success? There have been rumblings that Margarito has been enjoying his newfound fame a little excessively , and some boxing observers have openly wondered if Margarito would simply be satisfied to have finally made it big after years of virtual anonymity.

Then there is the opposing school of thought which believes Margarito's hunger is such an inherent part of his character, that he will be just as relentless on the mountaintop as he was during his ascent. Without a doubt, Margarito is indeed eager to add another big-name to his resume. He also would want to prove that he belongs in the same class as the sure-fire, first ballot Hall-of-Famer Mosley.

Second, how will the bulletin-board material supplied by Jin Mosley (Shane's wife and business manager)affect Margarito's approach in the ring? Months ago, when this fight was being put together, the acrimonious negotiations went through various stages of being on again, off again, and then back on again. Jin Mosley alleged that Margarito was the culprit behind the negotiating breakdown, and then fired off an inflamatory e-mail to the media calling Margarito virtually every name in the book.

If Margarito genuinely took these barbs personally, it could actually hurt his ring performance. Boxing's history is filled with fighters who became so angry at their opponent's pre-fight antics that their own rage worked against them. To avoid this pitfall, Margarito must focus on the task at hand, and maintain control of his emotions during the fight.

Third, will Margarito overlook Mosley because he is daydreaming of a lucrative June rematch with Cotto? That rematch would surely provide Margarito with the highest payout of his career, and could distract him from Saturday's task at hand.

One can only speculate about Margarito's mental state since decimating the previously unbeaten Cotto. Will he be taking the 37 year-old Mosley lightly, due to the fact that Shane already lost to the same Miguel Cotto?

Margarito disputes such notions, as his corner has pointed to the example set by the ageless Bernard Hopkins in upsetting the younger Kelly Pavlik. Most likely, the experienced Margarito will not be foolish enough to fall into such a trap.

Lastly, this fight may ultimately come down to the durable Margarito's abilty to adapt, and think on his feet. Should his straight forward, road-grater style prove ineffective against Shane's superior boxing and counter-punching skills, will Margarito then have enough creativity to adjust his gameplan on the fly?

As for Mosley, how will his age affect his performance?

Even though Cotto had some early success countering Margarito, he simply ran out of gas in the latter stages of the fight. However, for Mosley, fatigue should not be an issue, as he is always supremely conditioned (BALCO allegations notwithstanding).

Mosley has been fighting professionally since 1993, and thus, has seen virtually every style. Because of this, it is unlikely that Margarito's consistent pressure will prove problematic for him. In the past, it has been the big men with sound defense, good boxing skills, and the ability to counter-punch that have given Mosley the most problems. Examples of such fighters include Vernon Forrest and Winky Wright.

While Margarito certainly has similar size to those two men, his face-first defense can hardly be called sound. Therefore, he will have to depend on countering the quicker Mosley that much more if he hopes to win.

Furthermore, Shane has never been knocked out in his career. So, it is unlikely that even Margarito's considerable punching power will be able to stop "Sugar" Shane.

Mosley appears to be going strong, as evidenced by the fact that he has won 4 of 5 fights since turning 35. However, a closer look reveals that 3 of those 4 victories came against Fernando Vargas and Ricardo Mayorga -- fighters that had long since left their best days behind them.

So, just how much does Shane has left in the tank?

Despite losing a close decision against Cotto, Shane actually looked quite fresh in the last nine minutes, or "Championship Rounds." The same can be said about his performance in defeating the wild and unpredicatable Moyaorga by 12th round KO.

However, he will be fighting a wholly different animal in Margarito.

In his fight with Cotto, Margarito literally blocked hundreds of punches with his face, shrugged them off, and continued forward. The much slicker Sugar Shane will not be foolish enough to simply bomb Margarito and then back away in a straight line. Because he will move more laterally, he will not allow himself to be pinned against the ropes, or in the corner, like Cotto.

Shane will likely use more movement, better angles, subtle feints, and shoulder rolls to give Margarito different looks. Those different looks will prevent Antonio from setting his feet.

Unlike Cotto, Mosley can fight effectively going backwards when necessary. That ability to fight off his back foot could make a huge difference in this fight.

This brings us to the next point. Just as Margarito has distractions floating around his head, Shane also has his own share. Mosley's firing (again) of his father and trainer Jack Mosley, could be viewed as a distraction or an advantage. More often than not, there appeared to be little in the way of constructive and useful instruction being offered up by the elder Mosley between rounds.

But now that his father is gone, what impact will new trainer Nazeem Richardson have in Shane's corner?

Richardson has been the head trainer in charge of Bernard Hopkins camps for the better part of the past ten years. A more respected trainer this side of Angelo Dundee is not likely to be found. However, because Richardson is a new face, lack of familiarity could be a problem. Only time will tell.


Ignoring: 1) the BALCO allegations, 2) the dismissal of his father, and 3) his alleged marital problems, Mosley fights a controlled and tactical fight. He gets some early success, and then emboldened after cutting Margarito badly with a hellacious uppercut midway through the fight, ramps up the pressure and pours on the punches. Referee Raul Cadiz is forced to stop the fight on the advice of the doctor at ringside. Mosley prevails by 10th round TKO stoppage.

By Kweku Turkson
Staff Reporter for

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