Saturday, July 08, 2006

Mosely: One more taste of sweetness

By JE Grant

Shane Mosely enters the ring July 15th in Las Vegas against Fernando Vargas in perhaps his last venture as a great fighter.

As a 34 year-old one-time wunderkind, Mosely relies now on guile and determination where super-sonic speed once swept him past opponents. He ruled as a lightweight between 1997 and 1999 defending his belt eight times before moving up from the weight class to welterweight, skipping junior welterweight altogether. He never lost – indeed he never came close to losing – as a lightweight.

The move to welterweight produced some predictable results. While he was a devastating hitter as lightweight, scoring knockouts in each of his eight defenses, he was merely above average as a puncher at welterweight. His speed remained formidable but it was ever-so-slightly diminished as well.

Although his punching power was not what it had been as a lightweight, only three bouts into his welterweight venture he decisioned all-time great Oscar de la Hoya in 2000. The all-California affair solidified his name as an elite of the game and moved him from being famous in boxing circles to being world-famous.

Three title defenses later, and boasting a 38-0 record, he faced fellow unbeaten Vernon Forrest in a bout that would prove pivotal in his career. Forrest caught Mosely early and nearly knocked him out with devastating, pinpoint punches, the kind that Mosely avoided categorically as a lightweight. He survived the near-stoppage and even fought well in spots enroute to a decision loss. He proved his heart despite the clear drubbing.

What followed was a series of questionable business decisions. A decision to accept an instant rematch with Forrest was seemingly made from emotion rather than fact. Nothing in the first match left big questions. It wasn’t close in almost any respect. Forrest clearly had Mosely’s number. The rematch bore that fact out.

From the second Forrest fight, Mosely moved to junior middleweight. One the one hand he did move resoundingly into the forefront of the money end of the sport with a second win over De la Hoya and with it another belt.

Mosely took on a fellow belt holder in the form of the cagey and super-skilled Ronald “Winky” Wright. In his lightweight days Mosely used power and speed to overcome skilled foes. As a junior middleweight, his speed was and is decisively sub-sonic and his power is nearly non-existent. A bad combination against the steel-chinned and naturally bigger Winky.

Wright boxed behind his high guard and peppered Mosely repeatedly. In round after round Mosely ran head long toward the taller Wright and launched his quick shots only to be met with swift counters. The decision was never in doubt.

Proving he learned nothing from his ventures against Vernon Forrest, Mosely once again accepted an instant rematch. Although on the scorecards he performed a bit better in the rematch, there was really nothing to indicate that he could overcome the advantages Wright would always bring.

Ostensibly deciding to return to the welterweight division following the losses to Wright, the former three-division titlist appeared to be making the type of calculated business decision that he shunned in the earlier part of his career.

Or maybe not.

After two solid decision wins as a welterweight, Mosely smelled the money and accepted a junior middleweight weight date with the enigmatic Vargas.

The bout brought significant risk. Vargas had proven himself a strong and willing puncher at 154. In his six fights post-Forrest, Mosely had yet to score a stoppage.

Loud whispers suggested that Mosely was at age 34, to Vargas’ 28, perhaps slipping into the grip of the ravaging fist of Father Time. Such a decline would mean slower hands and maybe a more available chin. More importantly, the high volume attack, so necessary for a fighter who isn’t overpowering anyone anymore would, perhaps, just not appear ever again.

When the two met in February, it was Mosely who actually appeared the fresher of the two. He snapped jabs and bounced right hands off the head of the slower-than-usual Vargas.

Although Vargas will claim that the grapefruit sized swelling over his eye that led to a 10th round stoppage was merely a minor hurdle that he could have cleared, it was indicative of the sharp punching of Mosely. Not incidentally, Mosely was ahead on two of the three cards at the time of the halt. For this one bout at least, Father Time was kept at bay.

On July 15th both fighters will again realize enormous paychecks from their pay-per-view rematch. For Mosely it may mean another title chance soon or it may be a last great hurrah. For now, however, it is sufficient that he concentrates on this bout leaving other decisions to be made another day.

PREDICTION: The younger Vargas may be more shopworn than his older opponent. Following devastating losses to Trinidad and De la Hoya, Vargas has abandoned his go-for-broke attack to a pedestrian pace in which he seemingly considers each punch before throwing it. Mosely retains enough of his speed and unpredictability to make such a fight plan fizzle. As Vargas ambles forward, he will continue to be caught with lead right hands and odd-angle shots. The super swollen eye may also reemerge as problem for Vargas. Such injuries have a way of leaving a permanent propensity for recurrence due to underlying damage. Just as Mosely could not figure out Forrest or Wright, Vargas won’t solve the puzzle of “Sugar” Shane.

Mosely by decision.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Both of these guys are shot.

8:54 AM  
Blogger BiLL Earl said...

Vargas can ONLY WIN by going back to his slugger style of the Trinidad era...If he boxes w/ Mosley he will lose. Vargas used to fight ferociously. He either goes BACK to that style, or he'll lose this fight and have to retire.

Rosemead CA

1:46 AM  
Blogger BiLL Earl said...

Much buzz here in Los Angeles about the new heavhyweight they call "The Boxing Banker" (I forgot his name)...Is he the next Tyson...or Michael Grant? Is he the heavyweight division's next hope..or just hype? Who should "Banker" fight to get a title shot? Mesi?

1:59 AM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

Well Bill, Brock-I.M.O-is really neither a Tyson or Grant in terms of ability. Kind of somewhere in-between. Good and solid all-around, but nothing great, and no one aspect of his game really stands out. A true top-contender, but likely not a (true & undisputed) world champ I.M.O. He kind of reminds me a bit of a few of those 'non-descript' hvy's of the 80's...

As for Vargas, I agree to a point. I think he is going to have to be a tad bit more aggressive to have a good shot. As it is, I make Mosley a slight favorite. But ONLY a slight favorite. Win or lose, I really think Mosley should go down to 147, and Fernando up to 160...

7:37 PM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

P.S- Brock is actually already a legit top-10 contender, and will almost undoubtedly be getting a crack at one of the belt holders in 2007...

7:38 PM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

As far as Mosley goes, one random thought...

I think people tend to forget how truly good this guy was at 135, and would have been at 140 as well. How good was he? Answer: VERY.

7:46 PM  
Blogger JE Boxing said...

As a lightweight no one came close to Mosely. He should've stopped off at 140 along the way to 147.

8:27 PM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

Agreed JE. Mosley and ODLH were still good at 147 & 154, but they were truly great at 135 & 140. I guess not much like Jones in that regard, at 160 & 168 versus 175. I-for-one-thought that Jones should have stayed at 168 for the remainder of his career. He probably would have retired at about 35, and undefeated. But then what would people have said? "Well, he 'ONLY' moved up one or two divisions..."

* I do realize that moving up to at least 147 was eventually a nessicity (sic?) for the Mosley and ODLH though. But Oscar should have NEVER moved to 160, and Mosley 154...(Well...Pugilistically speaking, and not monetarily perhaps...)

9:16 PM  
Blogger JE Boxing said...

I really don't know where Mosely will go from here -- win or lose. I think he would have problems with PBF at 147.

7:12 AM  
Anonymous Big John said...

Except for the decision the fight went just as you said it would.

9:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Vargas is finito

9:27 PM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

Geez...Mosley just slaughtered him from what I heard. It's obviously either retirement or 160 for the formidably "Feroicious One"...

12:57 AM  
Blogger JE Boxing said...

It was totally one-sided. I had it 50-45 after 5. Vargas is clearly done as a top fighter --- unless it is truly a monumental struggle to make 154 which could help to explain his lethargy. He was so slow.

11:04 AM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

That's exactly what I heard JE. And I think the (weight thing) may indeed partially explain it, as I have thought for the last few years that he should be at 160, and I feel he took this fight mainly for the money. However - I am a bit reluctant to even suggest he continue his career. 160 or not. He is a young multi-millionaire that has supposedly taken good care of his money, has a family, is pretty intelligent, and...Has taken an AWFUL lot of punches to the head in the last 7 or 8 years.

6:03 PM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

* For whatever it may be worth, I just spoke/msg'd with an individual who is very closely associated with the Vargas camp, and who's word I put alot of weight to. He said that Vargas had absolute MURDER making 154 this time, by far the worst ever. He was surprised he was even able to make it period. Were talking wet-suits, saunas, binging & purging, amphetamines to curb the appetite (something that is relatively common, as they are completely out of your system in a matter of a few days absolute tops) He said he was defeated before the bell even rang, and went 6 rounds just on heart and guts alone. He said that he is unsure if Vargas will ever fight again, but he emphatically and unequivocally stated that under NO circumstances, would he fight at less than 160 again.

12:35 AM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

IF Vargas continues...I would suggest he go the 'Arturo Gatti' route. (i.e. go up in weight a little, and fight solely B and C-level guys for the time being. Steer clear of the elite, make some decent money (he still has the rabid fan base, not much unlike Gatti) and try and regroup. But once again, I think the best and most intelligent option would be retirement, as he is by all accounts virtually 'set for life' financially, provided he doesn't go absolutely 'wacko' with his money with frivilous spending, or make a multitude of bad investments...

12:44 AM  
Blogger JE Boxing said...

I think he may go all the way to super middleweight. I could see a circumstance where he would win a couple of meaningless super middle fights and then meet Calzaghe or Kessler.

5:34 PM  
Anonymous the cruiserweight said...

Barring a sudden change of mind/heart, expect Vargas to come back in late 2006/early 2007, and at 160...

J.E- I don't know for certain, but with the info I recieved, I think the '154 factor' may have indeed have had something to do with his MISERABLE performance. That being said, I think a 168-pound journeymen may KO him. My first suggestion would be retirement, and my 2nd 160.

* I know you wern't 'suggesting' Vargas fight at 168 per se...

10:46 PM  
Blogger JE Boxing said...

I think he'll move to 160, but I suspect his weight problems won't end there. I think Vargas is done as an elite of the sport.

6:19 PM  

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