Olė: The Final Swing Of The Cape For El Matador
By Jason Autry
At this point and at any point in their careers, the word that best embodies the match-up between Shane Mosley and Ricardo "El Matador" Mayorga is CLASS. Both inside and outside the ring, Mosley is and has always been a class act (save the disputed Balco drama) in the way he has conducted himself and behaved while fighting and talking about fighting. The lead up to Saturday’s showdown has been no different for Sugar Shane. Mayorga, on the other hand, should be a regular caller to Dr. Laura. He is a mess, and although freakishly entertaining, the consummate picture of classlessness. One needs to look no further than his proclamation to Cory Spinks that he was going to reunite him with his deceased mother and then went out and stunk up the joint in perhaps one of the sorriest displays I’ve seen.
Conversely, I remember watching Shane Mosley toward the middle of his career and thinking someone should put this guy's training camp and fights on an instructional video and show it to kids at local boxing gyms. I recall believing that this is what the sweet science was designed to look like. The fluidity and crispness of his style won him many amateur fights and facilitated his rise to welterweight supremacy. Not much has changed in the present other than Father Time catching up to him a bit; Mosley still possesses great boxing technique, adept footwork, athletic balance, coordination, power and a pretty good beard. The Cotto fight supports all of these assertions.
When I first saw Mayorga bouncing out of his locker room to face Vernon Forrest for the first time in January of 2003, my immediate reaction was, “Who is the street fighter?” I thought the promoters had raided the local pub and picked up some truck driver on a bet. Then I watched in horror as Forrest, a superior boxer, inexplicably allowed Mayorga to club him like a baby seal into submission. Still, I was not impressed with the Nicaraguan and to this day, never have been. He is often out of position, limited in punch assortment, off-balance and more of a wild swinger than Adam Dunn. Fernando Vargas ought to literally be ashamed of himself for losing to Mayorga.
With Mayorga consuming a steady diet of Nicaraguan beer and cigarettes when he is not training for two weeks, one has to think this is his last shot at a major fight and the main event level of boxing. However, if all the prevailing super welterweights keep giving him opportunities, we could see Mayorga fighting in these venues for a while because let’s face it, what else does he have to do? In contrast, Mosley’s physical condition at 37 rivals that of Bernard Hopkins, but his fighting style is not conducive to the longevity Hopkins has enjoyed. If Mosley wins, I could see him gutting out a couple of more high profile fights before his greatest concern in life is whether to play 36 holes or just 18 on Tuesdays. If Mayorga wins he will probably be good for one or two more shows under the lights but if he loses, then he is the opening act for the cock fights in Managua. But you never know, it is boxing and we did just witness Jeff Fenech – Azumah Nelson 3.
As the fight looms, I catalog through my mind for my favorite memories of both fighters. My favorite memory of Mosley is probably quite popular among those who have appreciated his career. That’s right, the twelfth round in his first fight against De La Hoya. I recently went back and watched that round again and was amazed at the speed, accuracy and rapidity of Mosley’s punches and was somewhat shocked in the replay of how many times De La Hoya landed his famous left hook with authority yet it left Shane undeterred. I am one who admires athleticism in any sport and I can say without fear or trepidation that the way Mosley fought the twelfth round was a credit to the sport of boxing and one of the most impressive athletic displays I’ve seen. That video snapshot could have been the highest point of his career considering his next couple fights were routine wins against the likes of Adrian Stone and Shannan Taylor and was then followed by the roughest patch he experienced: losing twice to Forrest, twice to Winky Wright and winning a disputed decision over De La Hoya.
My fondest recollections of Mayorga are mostly outside of the ring because he is one of the best ever at bravado and boldly making predictions that couldn’t possibly come true but there are one or two in the ring that make me appreciate him on a certain level. One, I just have to give him props for landing a couple of wild right hands upside Forrest’s noggin at the peak of his powers. There wasn’t a person in the vicinity of that ring that had the foggiest idea that Mayorga would blast Forrest out of there but he did so in emphatic fashion. I wasn’t necessarily impressed with him as a fighter but I was impressed with the fight. Two, this is going to sound cruel but the memory of Mayorga tasting canvas in the first round against De La Hoya after all of the literal trash he directed at the Golden Boy leading up to the fight was quite satisfying. There is just something primal about relishing when the bully gets his comeuppance and seeing that left hook plant Mayorga on his backside still brings a devilish grin to my face.
I don’t look for this fight to be epic or even top fifty in the history of the 154-pound division. However, because of the battles and some of the big wins he has notched and perhaps even the era in which he fought, Mosley will have a reasonably high place in the annals of boxing. I would even venture to say he might be a top ten to fifteen all-time welter/super welterweight. For Mayorga, he will be remembered more as a character outside of the ring than for what he accomplished inside of it. Can you say Donny Lalonde?
On Saturday, Mosley will take a considerable advantage into the ring in both talent and professionalism and should better El Matador in every sense of the word. Conventional wisdom says that Mosley should reduce Mayorga to the awkward pugilist we’ve seen in the majority of his latest fights and should out land him, out point him, and ultimately outclass him ala De La Hoya, Spinks, Trinidad, etc. So, to all the alcohol guzzling, cigarette smoking Nicaraugans, enjoy the last swing of the cape for the infamous El Matador.
Prediction: Mosley by mid to late TKO
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