Sunday, January 25, 2009

Shane Mosley

How good was Shane Mosley’s performance last night? Does it stack up as one of boxing’s best ever?

I’m inclined to say that it does. In order to beat Antonio Margarito, Mosley had to makes stylistic changes almost unheard of in any older fighter with an established modus operandi. His use of strategic clinching—which he did masterfully, by the way—was an almost entirely new part of his arsenal.

He showed surprising physical strength too, pushing the ostensibly stronger Margarito back at will. He also judiciously used his head, causing his normally stoic opponent to look to the referee for help from an early point in the match.

Although it was no surprise that Shane jumped to an early lead, I assumed that by the halfway mark the physical pressure put on him would cause him to wilt (and although he didn’t take much punishment, it was evident in the post-fight interview that his face was very badly swollen.) But somewhere around the sixth round, I noticed Margarito beginning to back up. At that point, the fight was essentially over.

For me, Mosley’s showing last night was even more impressive than the two Hopkins wins over Tarver (since Dawson’s equally one-sided beating of him suggests that Antonio maybe was never that much to begin with) and Pavlik. Pavlik, for all his strength and punching power, was still an early work in progress, hyped way too quickly. Margarito was extensively battle tested. We didn’t have to guess about how good or how tough he was. And there was no question about his preparedness for last night’s fight.

Mosley’s combination of applied intelligence, solid technique, and confidence (his plan required him to work on the inside throughout the fight: a safe harbor that only a sure-minded pro would recognize as being such) was the kind of overall showing that only a great fighter could have provided.