Sharkie's Machine: Shane Mosley Destroys Antonio Margarito
By Frank Gonzalez Jr., exclusive to Doghouse Boxing (Jan 25, 2009) Photo © German Villasenor  
Congratulations Shane Mosley for what may have been his best performance ever!

Before the WBA Welterweight title fight between Shane Mosley (46-5, 39 KO’s) and Antonio Margarito (37-6, 27 KO’s) at the Staples Center in LA, Shane Mosley was asked by HBO’s Larry Merchant, “How much, on a scale of one to ten, of your “prime self” is still here?” Mosley answered that he felt great and that after the fight; you can judge that for yourself. He said he’d need to use his jab to keep Margarito off balance.

The great Mexican warrior Antonio Margarito is usually a slow starter, who builds momentum late in a fight and often wears down tiring opponents. Shane Mosley came into the first round with an aggressive approach, beating Margarito to the punch and establishing control of the action and the pace. Margarito was getting out hustled early on. Shane was so aggressive, he even caused a few head butts early on. I doubt they were intentional but they were just one small part of what broke Margarito down. Everything Shane did took something away from Margarito. Even when Margarito did manage to score good shots, they were overshadowed by the cleaner, more frequent blows landed by Mosley.

I expected Mosley to tire out by the middle rounds, but it was Margarito who looked short on stamina, after absorbing so much punishment from the faster handed and seemingly reinvented Shane Mosley. Shane used his jab to set up everything, which included some potent left hooks. But the story of this fight was the frequency with which Shane landed his right hand all night.

Mosley not only looked to be in the best shape of his life but was a monster with that right hand, hammering Margarito with it regularly. He was landing everything; right hands, left hooks, you name it, he landed it and Margarito was never able to get into rhythm or do much of anything except to block, at times, with his face. Mosley had neutralized Margarito’s offense with his jab and superior footwork. It was more of the same by the eighth round, where Margarito ate clean rights from Shane that knocked him down and nearly out. Margarito beat the count, but the bell literally saved him when it rang seconds afterwards. Margarito’s corner wanted to stop the fight. Margarito succeeded in urging his trainer to let him continue. With a guy that tough, you have to give him the benefit of the doubt.

But early in the ninth round, still a bit woozy from the shellacking he took in the eighth, Margarito was blasted by Mosley, who knew the time was ripe to finish Margarito off and did so with a series of hard shots that forced referee, Raul Caiz Sr. to stop the fight.

I couldn’t find a round to give Margarito, who was outclassed, outworked and outscored in every single round. Margarito’s best round was the seventh, where for just a moment, it looked like the momentum was about to change. It didn’t. Shane Mosley never allowed that to happen.

Some of the credit for Shane’s exciting performance has to go to his new trainer, Nasim Richardson of Philadelphia , the same man who trained Bernard Hopkins in his recent win over Kelly Pavlik at the catch weight of 170 pounds. Under Richardson , we saw Bernard Hopkins fight aggressively and for three minutes a round, winning every round against a heavily favored Middleweight Champ. This fight was like de ja vu for Richardson , only this time working with Shane Mosley.

On Friday night, I expected Margarito would win this fight with durability and toughness but Mosley (under Richardson ) is a very different fighter than the Mosley I saw struggle with a plodding Ricardo Mayorga a few months ago. Mosley looked old in the Mayorga fight and I didn’t think that at 37 years old, Mosley would look younger than the 30 year old Margarito on fight night. Well, if anyone looked old Saturday night it was Margarito. To his credit, Margarito fought to the end and went down on his sword instead of accepting a TKO loss on his stool.

Margarito is supposed to fight a rematch against Miguel Cotto in the near future. Cotto beat the old Mosley in a close fight. If he expects to beat Margarito in the rematch, he better study what Mosley did and remember to take the fight to Margarito instead of letting him pressure him into exhaustion, like he did last time. Surely Margarito will be back and hopefully, have learned some valuable lessons from this loss to Mosley.

PS…Mosley came into this fight with a load of personal problems that might have interfered with the psyche of a lesser man but Mosley appeared to channel his frustrations into a powerful focus on the task in front of him; beating Antonio Margarito. Now, with the WBA title, Mosley is back on top of the 147 pound division. I can’t wait to see Shane fight again. I’d like to see him fight Andre Berto or Joshua Clottey next. The Shane Mosley I saw Saturday night looks like the toughest fighter in the division.

As to Merchant’s question of how much “prime” Shane still has in him, based on what I saw last night, ten seems about the right answer.

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