Boxing: Can Margarito Stop Mosley?

Stacy W.L.Correspondent IJanuary 22, 2009

A welterweight battle between “Sugar” Shane Mosley and the “Tijuana Tornado” looks to be one of the most anticipated matchups for 2009. The fight will come to fruition this on Saturday at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. It will be televised on HBO.

On the line will be Margarito’s WBA belt, as well as—of course—the pride of each man.

Both men are coming off of impressive wins.

Margarito showed the spirit of a warrior last year in a fight with Miguel Cotto. Margarito took punishment in the early rounds before picking him apart in the later rounds for an eleventh round knockout to win the belt Mosley hopes to take from him on Saturday.  

Mosley gained confidence last year when he overcame Ricardo Mayorga in a twelfth round knockout, showing his commitment to finishing his man in the last few seconds of the fight.  

Both men have impressive records. Each has held a variety of championship belts and neither has ever been knocked out.

Many people have lost respect for Mosley lately after reports showed that he used steroids before a fight with Oscar De La Hoya.  Mosley denied knowing that the substances he took were illegal. In this instance, Mosley tried to take a shortcut rather than to rely on his own strength and talent to win a hard fight.  

Margarito is famous for never taking shortcuts in his training.  The doping incident may point to a difference in the hearts of the two men that I predict will also make a difference in the ring on Saturday.

It is tempting to focus on the ages of the two men, given Margarito’s seven-year advantage on 37-year-old Mosley.  However, as David Avila pointed out in a Press-Enterprise podcast this month, if we consider Margarito’s early entry into the professional boxing arena at the age of 15, the men are roughly the same “ring age.”

This means that the amount of punishment they have taken in their careers is comparable.  As Bernard Hopkins has recently shown us, good training and lifestyle choices can add to a veteran boxer’s experience. It gives the power to outwork a younger opponent.

Let’s look instead at the way each man fared in the ring with a foe they had in common. First, we will look at the example of Miguel Cotto.  Margarito’s destruction of Cotto was built on two factors—Margarito’s iron chin and his ability to apply pressure throughout the fight.  Cotto found it very discouraging that Margarito could take the best punches he had to offer, and Margarito had gained the mental advantage by the middle of the fight.  He put Cotto away with precise, deadly combinations.

Mosley fought Cotto in November 2007, and lost a unanimous decision.  In this fight, it was Cotto who frustrated Mosley. Cotto stuffed jabs in Mosley’s face to keep him from getting set up as he took Mosley’s punches and continued to press forward.  This fight was similar to Mosley’s two losses to Winky Wright, in which he was also frustrated by the consistency of his opponent’s jab.

If Cotto outsmarted and outworked Mosley, and Margarito outsmarted and outworked Cotto, it would stand to reason that Margarito should still hold the WBA belt in his hands at the end of this fight.  As long as Margarito applies his usual warrior mentality and pressure, in addition to keeping busy with his jab and a using a variety of combinations, he will be able to frustrate Mosley and send him home feeling like an old man.

If Mosley wants this belt, he needs to be doing his work before the fight. He needs to get in the best shape of his life so that he can withstand punishment into the twelfth round. He also needs to practice the boxing skills he knows best like working to the body, moving in and out of range and using angles, and sharpening his mental game.  Otherwise, he might taste the canvas.  

I wouldn’t even be surprised if Margarito can be the first to stop Mosley in his tracks.