In 2005, Bernard Hopkins demonstrated his collection of 40-year-old stones by packaging them in boxing trunks and escorting them to the ring to battle an unbeaten, young, fast-handed fighter named Jermain Taylor.
Bernard’s buddy and business partner Shane Mosley has showcased a couple of 38-year-old stones of his own by agreeing to fight undefeated, young, lightning quick WBC welterweight champion Andre Berto on January 30.
The last time Mosley (46-5, 39 KOs), was in the ring—a year ago—he was seen putting Antonio Margarito in the market for a prosthetic ass.
Mosley is a boxer puncher with well-honed technical skills and very good speed and power. He is one of the most ring-savvy fighters in the sport.
He’s not a slick, slippery boxer who’s going to dance and run. And he’s not an inside fighter who will try to get up close and brawl. He likes to maintain a distance where he can step in and initiate action or make his opponent miss and then counter.
Andre Berto (25-0, 19 KOs), was last spotted on the jobsite in May giving a dozen three-minute tutoring sessions to Juan Urango on the finer points of the fistic arts.
The 26-year-old Berto is also a boxer puncher and may just be the quickest fighter in the sport.
He’s determined and relentless with a complete offensive arsenal—sharp jabs, stinging hooks and right hands, and wicked uppercuts. He likes to initiate the action, keep pressure on his opponents, and maintain an extremely fast pace.
He does have his flaws. He doesn’t work his jab as much as he should. He lets his hands drop at times. And he’ll often square up when he’s on the inside.
But like Usain Bolt setting a world record in the 100-meter dash while clowning and celebrating before crossing the finish line, Andre’s maniacal quickness allows him to outsprint most of his mistakes.
Mosley vs. Berto is going to be a pissing contest between Mosley’s ring smarts, technical skills and still relevant quickness and pop, and Berto’s mad handspeed, tenacious determination, and impressive—though somewhat flawed—offensive skill set.
Mosley’s desecration of Antonio Margarito and the myth that surrounded him has created the impression among some that Shane has become all but unbeatable.
The annihilation of Margarito was the result of Mosley’s enormously superior combination of speed and technical skills and a damn good strategy put into place by his trainer, rising-star Nazim Richardson.
The fact that Margarito had his bat cracked open and de-corked before the fight couldn’t have done much good for his punching power or confidence, but I suspect Shane would have given him a pretty good beating either way.
Andre Berto is an entirely different type of fighter than Margarito.
Mosley will be at a clear disadvantage in speed against Berto—an issue that Shane has rarely had to deal with in his career.
In boxing, of course, speed isn’t everything. Mosley has some pretty good counterpunching skills to deal with Berto’s flash and aggression. He is going to have to use feints, set traps, and try to time Berto’s offensive assaults.
Because of the quickness and ferocious work rate of Berto, I can’t imagine that Shane’s strategy will consist of anything other than trying to land the fewer, but cleaner and harder shots.
Since Berto never relents and Mosley isn’t going to try to dance away from him, the ring at the Mandalay Bay that night has the potential of mutating into a full-on war zone—Berto being the young infantry machinegunner and Mosley the cagey old guerilla warfare specialist.
I expect Mosley to land some good, hard power shots throughout the fight, but I just don’t see him landing enough to offset the effectiveness of Berto’s 3:00/12 attack. I think Berto’s speed and work rate are going to be a little too much for Shane to overcome.
There’s always the possibility that Mosley and Nazim Richardson have some type of crafty game plan in store for Berto. Richardson not only masterminded Shane’s whoopassing of Margarito, but also the strategy that had Kelly Pavlik under such control by Bernard Hopkins that he may as well have been auditioning for the role of the Gimp in a Pulp Fiction sequel.
Berto struggled hard against Luis Collazo, who continually applied pressure and did some quality work on the inside against him. But Mosley’s never been inclined to mix it up that way and I don’t see him being reinvented at this stage of his career. I think Shane is going to fight him straight up.
Just as his boy Bernard Hopkins found out against Jermain Taylor, I think Mosley will be forced to realize that sometimes you just can’t out-work, out-skill, or out-savvy youth and speed.
I’m going with Berto by hard-fought, close decision.