Antonio Margarito vs Shane Mosley: For the Weight, If Not the World
By Coyote Duran, (Jan 21, 2009) Photo © HBO  
By now, most of you know the January 24 welterweight title bout between WBA welterweight titleholder Antonio Margarito and Shane Mosley will not be for 'The Ring' magazine's World Championship. For almost as many, one can assume, the lack of distinction doesn't matter. Margarito is accepting the best challenge available as a title defense and Mosley is out to prove he's still viable. For quite a few of the latter, a win for Margarito is but a foregone conclusion.

'The Ring's' Championship is not up for grabs because, as one can assume, many of the writers on 'The Ring's' Ratings Panel deemed Mosley (although 'The Ring's’ number three contender at 147) a 'non-candidate'; for lack of a better term (in some special cases, the number one and number three contenders may be granted the 'box-off' necessary to fill the vacant championship). After all, prior to Mosley's last win, a blistering, last-second, left-hook knockout of Ricardo Mayorga, he lost a competitive scrap to Miguel Cotto in November 2007 for the WBA belt. The same belt Margarito beat Cotto for last July. The broad mentality is that the same Mosley who lost to Cotto is still the same Mosley that will face Margarito; therefore non-deserving of half the recipe of a championship main course.

Mind you, Margarito, 37-5 (27) with one no-contest, doesn't go unpunished; also for lack of a better term. As 'The Ring's' number one welterweight, even a win over Mosley, 45-5 (38) with one no-contest, won't gain him the World Championship.

A sticking point in the magazine's (or the panel's majority vote) decision to not consider Margarito-Mosley a World Championship fight is that Paul Williams still walks the earth. As long as a possibility exists that 'The Punisher' will someday return to welterweight, that same wishful thinking negates 'The Tijuana Tornado's' pursuit for true gold.

If you're not down with 'The Ring's' policy, you might not even care about the aforementioned commentary. That's fine. Since the magazine's resurrection of their Championship Policy, reception has been mixed; to say the least. Many fans find credence in the longevity of sanctioning bodies. Good, bad or indifferent, little can really change those fans' minds. That's reasonable. But many of those same fans who rebuff 'The Ring' are also the very same that incessantly carp about the ills of the alphabets that teem Our Sport. Change doesn't naturally occur overnight but paradigms must be broken in order for true acceptance to be achieved. 'Grasshopper' kinda stuff.

Back to foregone conclusions...

It's easy to get caught up in the 'Fighter A beat Fighter B who beat Fighter C' business and that's a big part of Margarito-Mosley. Yes, Margarito handed Cotto a beatdown-and-a-half. Yes, Cotto defeated Mosley at a choice weight where Cotto's dominance damn near declared him so-called championship status since Floyd Mayweather Jr. retired. But 'Fighter C beating Fighter A' isn't an obvious selection for any prediction. 'A beating B beating C' has never been credible. It's just luck. Happenstance. Big deal.

Know why Cotto beat Mosley? Cotto was focused. Steeled in his aggression, Cotto simply gave better than he took and he took it very well; especially to the body. He knew when to take advantage of any sliver of fatigue Mosley showed and that was throughout the middle rounds. Mosley didn't expect to face such a good boxer that night and learned the hard way.

Know why Margarito beat Cotto? Margarito doesn't know when to rest, apparently, and Cotto thought the formula that beat Mosley would do just as well against Margarito. But he couldn't stop Margarito from coming in; let alone keep him away long enough to stay off the ropes. Cotto just could not hurt Margarito.

Where 'Sugar Shane' can make his mark is by rediscovering his activity and not stand still. Un-make the target because Margarito has trouble with a skilled mover. Put that together with the hand speed Mosley's got left and there's one helluva possibility for a Mosley win. Don't look at me like I'm crazy. I know there were a lot of fans who thought Margarito would've took Williams to the cleaners before their fight.

Where Margarito gains the edge is pressure and that pressure is the best weapon (maybe a chin that a comet can’t dent helps too) against an excellent boxer like Mosley. Reach? Forget about it. Mosley has an inch over Margarito (if that) in that department.

Betting faves? Ain't got one. You might not believe it but I'm seeing an even fight. OK, maybe I’m swaying a little toward Mosley. I just keep thinking about movement and if Mosley’s still got some quickness, a jab and some digs to the body, then ‘Tony’s’ got trouble. But that’s this week. Talk to me again a couple of days before the fight.

The thing is, sure, Margarito-Mosley is not a World Championship fight in my assessment because it wasn’t allowed to be. That wasn’t my doing because, obviously, I was in the minority of panelists who thought the pairing was legit. No excuses whatsoever. Oscar De La Hoya didn’t pay us all off to say yes or no (and don’tcha think if he wanted, he could’ve tried to sway the opportunity toward Mosley to be a candidate?). Then again, after Cotto’s knockout loss to Margarito, I don’t believe he deserves to stay at number two in ‘The Ring’s’ ratings. Regardless, spots two and three can reasonably be swapped between Mosley and IBF titlist Joshua Clottey; who more than gave Margarito all he could handle before injuring his left in the fourth heat of their fight in December of 2006.

And of course, there’s gonna be a title on the line and it’ll be the WBA’s version of a welterweight world title and Michael Buffer will call Antonio Margarito the ‘reigning, defending ‘welterweight champion of the world’.’ Or maybe he’ll call Shane Mosley ‘the NEW WBA welterweight champion of the world…’ I’ll wind up disagreeing with the ‘world champion’ bit but take solace in knowing that maybe there’s some agreement going on with a lot of you when you push aside the once-possible notion that either of these men would emerge a ‘world champion’. Some of you writers and fans are in agreement that at least one of ‘em isn’t good enough for contention and that a belt shouldn’t be just given to anyone in a fight. OK, got that too. And though I believe that Mosley’s certainly no one’s empty title (IBA, IBO, IBC, WBU, WBF…you get the point) recipient, it’s assumed that you want the best of the best of the best in the division to REALLY want to face off. Maybe not for the world, but the weight class itself.

For now, that’s good enough.

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