Monday, January 19, 2009

Sugar Shane Can Win, And Here's How... Part 1

by Lee Payton

Sugar Shane Mosley has won world titles at 135, 147 and 154 lbs, he’s a future hall of famer, and was once regarded as the best fighter in the world, but when he takes on Antonio Margarito, he'll be facing the number 1 welterweight as a heavy underdog. Bookies have set the line as high as 4-1 against Shane, based mostly on his age (37) and the fact that he lost a close decision to Miguel Cotto, who was just stopped in 11 rounds by the Tijuana Tornado.

I have a few problems with the conventional wisdom surrounding this particular fight and so I am going to try to present a strong case for a Mosley victory on Jan. 24.

Photo © Ray Kasprowicz

Boxing fans often make the mistake of looking at the fighters' most recent battle and picking a winner based on who looked better. It's not a terrible general rule, but there are many things to consider before one can really determine how significant that factor will be.

For instance, was it a case of a bad style match-up? Was it a case of the challenger being better than he was on any other night? I also think that it's quite important to remember that these guys are human beings and therefore it is impossible for them to be 100% all the time or look like gold every time out. Fighters have off nights.

Let's look back on the last time these two were in a ring and see if we can find anything that directly relates to this fight.

Margarito was in the fight of his life with Cotto and was obviously inspired for the long-awaited occasion. He used his advantages in size and durability to walk down the Puerto Rican star until his man had nothing left. It was a massive win and he deserves all the acclaim he has received for fighting his heart out like that. Still, that style might suit him better than Shane's considering Miguel was moving back all night, only stopping to defend himself. Cotto allowed Tony to get into his rhythm by doing his work and then going off to the races again. It must have done wonders for Margarito's confidence to have taken his opponent's best and then be chasing him again a second later.

Shane will almost certainly stand his ground more and try to use his speed to get off first in order to mess with that rhythm. Another way Shane can break up the forward momentum is by clinching after he gets off, or whenever he is feeling uncomfortable. The two bodies will be coming together naturally quite a bit because of the styles anyway. It's up to the old man to take advantage of them, like his partner, the even older Bernard Hopkins, has done in his later years.

One more advantage Mosley has over Cotto is durability. He is a much more difficult guy to hurt, and has proven his granite chin throughout his career, only being in real danger one time in 50 fights. Tony will not be able to stun the iron man from Pomona with the same type of stuff, which makes a stoppage extremely unlikely.

Now let's have a gander at Shane's last fight. He engaged in a sloppy little slugfest with Nicaraguan former welterweight champion, Ricardo Mayorga. The two swung big between periods of inactivity and it was surprisingly even through 11 rounds. Then, in the last minute of the 12th, Mosley broke through with some slamming shots to the jaw of his wild adversary that finally put him down. After taking an 8 count and rising, Mayorga was knocked flat by a single left hook, one second before the final bell.

It was a memorable finish to a forgettable fight. Most fans expected the classier fighter to toy with the flawed brawler before blasting him out, and when it didn't happen, Shane had to be finished. No consideration given to the awkward style match-up, or to the idea that El Matador had actually got himself into decent shape.

I think assuming Mosley will lose based on those two fights is a mistake because none of the 4 fighters mentioned are anything alike.

Mayorga is unconventional, deceptively quick and swings for the homerun with every shot.

Margarito is conventional, relatively slow, and usually throws in combination.

Cotto is quick of hand and foot, can fight attacking or countering and keeps his hands high on defence. He got the decision over Mosley using tools that the Tijuana Ticker-Tester doesn't have.

Shane has fast hands and usually wins fights with power punching and athleticism.

So can we all agree that their most recent fights have nothing to do with this one, other than to state that Margarito is indeed closer to his prime? Great!

Tomorrow I'll analyze the physical tools each fighter brings to the dance, determine who holds what specific advantages and what it all means. I'll also be going on record with a prediction.

Read Part 2

Lee Payton


Bucket! said...