MOSLEY FINISHES MAYORGA AT THE LAST SECOND
Shane Mosley returned with a bang on Saturday when he stopped the durable Ricardo Mayorga with a resounding left hook in the last second of a competitive and entertaining affair.
Both Mosley and Mayorga had been out of the ring since last November when Mosley dropped a competitive decision to Miguel Cotto and Mayorga defeated Fernando Vargas. The match up made sense for a lot of reasons. Mayorga’s victory earned him one more big payday, and Mosley needed an opponent to get him back in the mix, especially since Cotto lost this summer to Antonio Margarito. Mosley was clamoring for a fight with Margarito and what better opponent to prepare him for such a fight than the hard-nosed, come forward Mayorga.
At the opening bell, Mayorga walked out and landed two big right hands on Mosley to make his presence felt. Mosley seemed timid and went most of the round without connecting with a single good shot. He finally caught Mayorga with a right hand inside before wrapping up Mayorga from behind and hammering him to the kidney several times. Mayorga, surprised to find himself the victim of a foul for once in his career, complained briefly before fighting back and landing two more hard rights, one of which had Mosley on shaky legs. The crowd chanted, “Mosley,” though Mayorga had taken the first round, having hurt his man first.
After catching Mosley with a left hook and beating him to the body, Mayorga stopped to complain about Mosley butting him in a clinch. When he found no help from Referee David Mendoza, Mayorga threw down another right to the side of Mosley’s head but also caught one in return. Mayorga then pursued Mosley and got in an uppercut and a straight right as Mosley continued to hang back. Going for another right, Mayorga walked into a short left hook. At the bell to end the second round, Mosley reached out and patted Mayorga on the side as if to concede that Mayorga was winning the fight with his harder shots.
His confidence peaking after the first two rounds, Mayorga broke from picking his spots to begin slinging everything in his arsenal at Mosley, keeping him off balance and in retreat. When Mayorga again complained about headbutts, Mosley, tiring of the game, beckoned him to fight. Mosley offered to touch gloves and explained himself to Mayorga, who frowned but resumed fighting and batted two rights over the top of Mosley’s head. Mosley appeared frustrated as he was warned by Mendoza for throwing a low blow immediately after taking a right to the side of the head from Mayorga. The fouling continued as Mayorga twice picked up a charging Mosley and beat him into the ropes with shots from both hands. Mayorga punctuated another round firmly in his favor by landing a right-left combination. Three rounds in, Mayorga had already pulled a surprise by winning every round.
Mosley took charge in round four by leading with the jab and landing a hard right to the side of Mayorga’s dome. When sliding in to attack, Mayorga ate another big right from Mosley but struck back with body shots from both sides and a left hook across the mouth. Mosley responded to that by stepping in and landing a hard, crisp right across Mayorga’s mouth. Undiscouraged by Mosley’s newfound accuracy, Mayorga moved in and caught another straight right to the mouth. Mayorga expectedly kept coming and landed a right but caught a left hook from Mosley. Both men touched each other at the end of the round, acknowledging the gun-slinging taking place.
Mayorga landed a punch to the back of the head in round five, and it was Mosley’s turn to complain as he spoke directly to Mayorga. Mayorga suggested it was on the ear but touched gloves with Mosley anyway. Mosley then leapt in and caught Mayorga with a stuffing left hook, followed by an overhand right. Mayorga wanted more action than he was getting and spread his arms to beckon Mosley on. Mosley threw down a right to the side of Mayorga’s head, but Mayorga answered with an uppercut and a left-right combination. Mosley responded by stepping in and blasting Mayorga with a right over the side of the head. Mayorga then tried to hold, but Mosley pushed him off and landed a body shot. The Nicaraguan reacted as though he had again been hit in the kidney, which brought boos from the pro-Mosley California crowd. Mayorga found Mosley with a left hook, and now it was Mosley’s turn to beckon Mayorga on for more. Mosley landed a right before the bell and started to walk away, but Mayorga shouted after him, prompting Mosley to head back in his direction and jaw a bit. The antagonizing personality of Mayorga had finally broken the seemingly impenetrable wall of nerves for which the mild-mannered Mosley is known, and the fighters had to be separated by both referee and trainers.
A big right hand from Mosley to begin the sixth had Mayorga nodding and requesting more punishment as has become his trademark. Mosley obliged with a sharp left hook across the mouth that did little to faze the Nicaraguan. Two more right hands followed and made Mayorga cringe a bit. The crowd got loud as Mosley blasted home another right, and Mayorga began holding more and making faces before a nasty collision of heads had both men flinching and heading in opposite directions. Despite Mayorga’s anger, no blood was spotted, and the action resumed with Mosley landing hard punches from both hands. After absorbing a left hook, Mayorga nodded to urge Mosley on, so Mosley followed up with a hard right-left that knocked Mayorga back. Mayorga nodded and shouted as though he enjoyed the blows, willingly taking another right hand. Still, Mayorga nodded and shouted at Mosley, hoping to get him to punch himself out. Another terrific left hook brought a smile and nod from the battered Mayorga. The next left hook brought a frown as Mayorga spread his arms, no longer as enthusiastic about getting hit as he had been moments earlier. Mayorga finally leapt at Mosley but was stopped by the bell and headed to his corner looking weary after a huge round for Mosley.
The punches continued to fly at Mayorga’s head in round seven until Mayorga stopped to complain of a wet spot on the canvas, looking for any way possible to catch a break. Mayorga beat his chest at another break in the action but caught a left hook on the chin. In spite of the drubbing he was taking, Mayorga managed to get some punches in and keep Mosley from launching an all out assault. He certainly outlanded Mosley in the round, but Mosley landed the harder and more eye catching shots. In the eighth, Mayorga landed two big right hands as the pace slowed drastically. Mosley’s 37-year-old body must have been tiring on him because he did nothing in the round and let an almost equally inactive Mayorga bully him to steal it; in fact, Mayorga seemed to spend more energy celebrating winning the round than actually winning it as he threw his glove up and shouted, pumping his fist all the way to the corner.
Mayorga continued cheering himself in round nine, throwing his fist up after landing some punches during an exchange. Mosley sent a punch low in the next exchange, and Mayorga again used the opportunity to complain, knowing a point deduction would put him ahead in the fight. A great exchange ensued in which Mayorga landed an overhand right but caught a crunching left across the mouth. Mayorga responded by coming in and popping Mosley with an uppercut to end a round that could have gone either way, though Mosley appeared to land the more telling blows.
Briefly fighting from the southpaw stance, Mosley caught Mayorga a good left hand in the tenth. Mosley landed another low blow but still only got a warning from Mendoza. Mayorga celebrated when, after getting their feet tangled, Mosley lost his balance and had to catch himself on his hands to keep from landing on his face. Mayorga laughed when making Mosley back up in round eleven and ate a big right hand moments later. Again, Mendoza warned Mosley to keep his punches up without taking a point. Mayorga tried to bury some shots in but took yet another big right hand, after which he nodded at Mosley. Mayorga raised his glove, shouting and celebrating, and received a chorus of boos for it. He landed a combination on Mosley a moment later, and only at the end of the round did Mosley catch him with two solid jabs, a punch that appeared to be open all night for him.
Perhaps wanting to do what Oscar De La Hoya and Felix Trinidad did before him, Mosley continued chasing the knockout in the twelfth and final round. Finally, with half a minute to go, Mosley rattled off a four punch combination, and one to the side of the head as Mayorga was going down, that dropped the Nicaraguan onto his hands and knees. The crowd went wild, but Mayorga beat the count, standing at seven, though he was in bad shape. Mayorga looked from Mendoza to Mosley just in time to be hit with a monstrous left hook across the jaw that floored him in a flash. Though only one second remained on the clock, Mendoza knelt, took a look at Mayorga and waved off the fight, giving Mosley an resounding knockout victory. It was an absolutely stunning end to a fight that had been close and entertaining.
Mayorga remained on his back for a while, talking and answering the doctor’s questions, while the knockout registered with Mosley and his camp. The call was correct as Mayorga would not have beaten the count, and Mosley got his first knockout win in two years. The crowd chanting his name, Mosley was all smiles in what may go down as his last hurrah in boxing given the hard time he had with what many consider a very tough but limited opponent.
Now that Mosley appears to be backing off his plans to challenge WBA Welterweight Champion Antonio Margarito, and maybe for good reason based on how he struggled to figure out the similar styled Mayorga, the logical move would be to head to a third fight with Vernon Forrest, who just this month regained the WBC Junior Middleweight title from Sergio Mora. Mosley would not have to return to the welterweight limit to make the fight because, even though this event was billed as The Night of the Welterweight Elite, the battle was contested at 154 pounds. Also, Mosley and Forrest have probably faded as much as each other and would make for not only a logical but probably a competitive fight that people would want to see. Forrest twice beat Mosley back in 2002, dropping him twice in the first fight, and clawing his way to a unanimous decision both times. The losses never sat well with Mosley, who refused to believe that Forrest simply had his number. If he wants revenge, time is running out on the bodies of both men.
Mayorga has now been stopped by Mosley, De La Hoya and Trinidad, which is nothing to be ashamed of but still highlights the fact that he has lost all of his biggest fights aside from Forrest, who he twice beat in 2003. Had Mayorga won, he would have probably been lined up to fight Forrest a third time. Because he lost and suffered yet another hard knockout, retirement may be the best option – that is, unless Mayorga is willing to take lesser fights to rebuild his credentials. The chances of that happening for a guy who openly admits to smoking and drinking daily between fights are slim to none.
BERTO STAYS UNBEATEN; FORBES STAYS ON HIS FEET
On the undercard, little changed in the careers of undefeated WBC Welterweight Champion Andre Berto and perennial contender Steve Forbes. Finally taking on legitimate competition, Berto looked impressive as he pitched a near shutout over the slick Forbes, taking a unanimous decision to retain his title. But Forbes, who has never been stopped or even knocked down, could still boast that impressive accolade by the end of the twelve rounds.
Berto won a competitive first round but was constantly beaten to the punch in the second round by the veteran challenger. It would be the most success Forbes achieved all night. Berto returned to his corner, acknowledging that he had lost the round and committed to putting up a non-stop assault to discourage Forbes from landing in return.
The plan worked to perfection because even though Berto wasn’t landing an enormous amount of clean punches, he stayed all over Forbes, and the older challenger simply couldn’t keep up with the young champion’s pace. By round eight, Forbes was regularly taking hard uppercuts on the chin. The highlight of the bout came in that round when Forbes’ mouthpiece slipped out of his mouth and was sent flying high into the air by a Berto uppercut – eye-catching but unimportant in the long run.
What is important is that Berto has now defeated a quality opponent in style. His mandatory opponent is Luis Collazo, who lost to Mosley last year but nearly upended Ricky Hatton in 2006. Collazo is sure to put up a fight and provide more insight as to just how good Berto really is. So far, so good, but the welterweight division is deep enough that every championship fight taking place at 147 pounds should feature two quality fighters.