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Redemption or Repeat: Part One
Sugar Shane's Sweet Repeat
Sep 8, 2003 By Alex Pierpaoli
On Saturday night, Sugar Shane Mosley and the Golden Boy, Oscar De La Hoya will meet again to settle the matter of whether or not three years and seven more pounds will make any difference in what happens when these two terrific fighters collide. On June 17th, 2000, Sugar Shane Mosley decisively outworked and outfought De La Hoya on a Saturday evening at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. Since then both men have grown from the 147 pound welterweight division to the 154 pound limit of Junior Middleweight. Oscar De La Hoya has earned a Grammy nomination in his brief and mildly successful stint as a Latino pop-star, he has crushed Mexican-American rival, "Ferocious" Fernando Vargas, and has solidified his position as the biggest pay-per-view draw south of 200 pounds. For Mosley things have not gone quite as well.
After reigning as welterweight king and defending his titles against less than stellar opposition, he faced his amateur conqueror in January of 2002, Vernon "The Viper" Forrest and was butted, battered, and soundly beaten in the Upset of the Year. Since then Mosley dropped a second unanimous decision to Forrest, and after deciding it wasn't worth pushing for the rubber match, he fled the division and packed on seven pounds to try his luck as a junior middleweight. Unfortunately for Shane, in his only bout at the beefier weight limit, Mosley's bum luck continued when he faced Raul Marquez over just three rounds before the scar tissue in Marquez' often cut brow gave out and the fight was stopped on the advice of the ringside physician resulting in a No Contest.
Despite overwhelmingly negative reviews by the boxing press, Mosley the junior middleweight showed the added bulk didn't slow his hands or his feet. Much of the awkwardness in the Marquez bout was a result of the age-old combination of an orthodox fighter, in this case Mosley, facing a southpaw, Marquez. In fact, the bout's abbreviated and unsatisfying finish was caused by that awkward combination of stances when two deep gashes were opened in the tissue-paper brow of Marquez when both fighters cracked heads while moving forward to land punches in round three.
Though it is difficult to glean much from the brief appearance at junior middleweight, Sugar Shane appeared unaffected by the size and strength of his naturally larger opponent. More importantly there was no trace of the gun-shy Mosley, who was so wary of being caught with a right hand in the rematch with Forrest when he was never really able to get his offense into gear. Mosley's speedy combinations were not evident against Marquez and many, perhaps De La Hoya included, felt this was some harbinger of Mosley's lost luster; but the southpaw Marquez' aggression and gloves-high guard made it hard for Shane to connect with more than one or two well-placed shots at a time.
What was overlooked by much of the press was the fact that it was Marquez who turned and, in effect, asked for the doctor after suffering each cut. Due to the severity of the wounds, the ring doctor recommended Referee Kenny Bayless stop the fight with no protest from Marquez whatsoever. Perhaps, the body-punching, Mosley's forte, was starting to get to Marquez, and when the blood began to flow he saw a way out without losing too much self-respect. Jack Mosley, Shane's father, trainer and manager, had exhorted Shane between rounds to keep pressuring the body of Marquez. Numerous left hooks to the short rib and straight rights to the heart of Marquez were laying the groundwork for what would have likely been a TKO victory for Mosley somewhere in the middle rounds. There is little doubt Jack Mosley won't push his son to go after De La Hoya's body on Saturday night, especially if De La Hoya is able to employ some of the elusive techniques he has learned under the tutelage of Floyd Mayweather, SR. A sustained body attack will reduce the bobbing and weaving De La Hoya has added to his skills.
In the first bout, De La Hoya was the aggressor throughout and when he worked behind the jab he was effective in stopping Mosley's in-and-out flurries and hyper-activity. With Mayweather, De La Hoya has not relied as heavily on the jab and he has not kept the same gloves-high, left shoulder forward angle he did under Roberto Alcazar which won him 5 of the rounds against Shane in 2000. Now De La Hoya's style has shifted to a more rounded shoulder stance with his left hand held low as if enticing opponents to try catching him with a right of their own. With the speedy Mosley this could be a mistake for the De La Hoya camp.
In fight one Mosley was masterful in preventing Oscar from firing and landing his trademark left hook, and will have to use the same tactics in the rematch especially after seeing the De La Hoya left in murderous action against Vargas almost one year ago. Now with Mayweather, De La Hoya has found his right hand can be just as effective a weapon. But to land the right on the quicker Mosley, it is likely Oscar will have to square his shoulders a little more, leaving himself vulnerable to Mosley's right hand leads which were the key to Shane's victory three years ago.
Mosley and his father have taken a lot of criticism from Team De La Hoya, and specifically Bob Arum and Floyd Mayweather. The Golden Boy's camp feels there has been no innovation in Mosley's style; no adaptation after learning the hard way against Forrest that change is good and needed when facing an opponent who's got your number. But if Forrest has Mosley's number isn't it possible Mosley has De La Hoya's?
A rematch is usually an affirmation, and often times, a more emphatic version of what occurred the first time around. Liston versus Patterson 2 lasted only four seconds longer than fight one, before Sonny's hand was held high again. In recent months you need only look as far as Ward-Gatti and Forrest-Mayorga to see the Herculean task that stands before the Golden Boy in trying to undo what was done three years ago.
This writer was at the Staples Center for the first fight between these two fistic gun-slingers and I will be at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, on Saturday night. One of the most sensational moments I've witnessed as a fight fan was seeing a breathless Sugar Shane Mosley cracking right hand leads against the head of Oscar De La Hoya in the 12th and final round. On that night Mosley had entered the ring to a chorus of boos and only a few scattered pockets of applause, but over the course of the bout the Los Angelinos present were won over by Sugar Shane's furious speed and determination to win. That vision of Mosley-his mouth half open, chest heaving, still firing away with power punches, unwilling to let one second pass without giving maximum effort-is still clear and vivid in my mind. Shane Mosley saw the opportunity to launch himself into history as the latest in a line of great "Sugars" and with seconds to go in the fight he seized it and the victory.
On Saturday night Sugar Shane Mosley will show his sweetness to the boxing world again and perhaps his repeat performance will bring him some form of redemption after the successive losses to Forrest.
Tomorrow we will look at the Redemption side of Mosley-DeLaHoya 2 and see how likely it is the Golden Boy will be able to avenge what he feels is the most legitimate loss of his professional career.
Alex Pierpaoli has followed the Sweet Science for the past 17 years and is an avid boxing fan/writer. He has a degree in English from the University of Maine. Send comments or questions to: firstname.lastname@example.org