Watching Shane Mosley, 37, tear down the formidable (and formerly indestructible) façade of Antonio Margarito brought the greatest joy to me, as it should have for all boxing fans who weren’t invested, monetarily or otherwise, in a Margarito win. With each Mosley overhand right, another brick was knocked loose until, in the ninth round, the wall collapsed.
And what a sweet collapse it was. Even more so than Bernard Hopkins’ upset of Kelly Pavlik, Mosley’s triumph was a shock. Like Hopkins, Mosley was older and coming off a relatively unsavory performance. Unlike Hopkins, Mosley was the smaller man and much of the discussion focused on the round in which “Sugar” might fall. Just like Hopkins, Mosley annihilated the younger, favored champion.
But most significantly, Mosley’s win differs from Hopkins’ in that it has utterly changed the landscape of boxing. Or at least the welterweight division.
There was no chance in hell that Floyd Mayweather Jr. or Manny Pacquiao (i.e. the two most important active pugilists) was going to challenge Margarito for the title. But Mosley’s win pulls them back into the fray, competing for a legitimate championship within a division again instead of operating in the De La Hoya megafight-to-megafight paradigm.
Being tossed around now is a sort of four man tournament. The Ricky Hatton-Pacquiao showdown is set for May 2 (after some hassle). The other half of the equation would be a fight between Mosley and Mayweather, which may be more a fancy of boxing logic than a genuine possibility. For now, as is often the case regarding the “Pretty” one, such talk consists only of hopeful speculation.
Regardless of what the ever-reluctant Mayweather decides, Mosley’s right hands burst open and already wide-open welterweight division that has more parity than Big East basketball. Just look at the recent action:
Paul Williams beats Margarito. Carlos Quintana, who was knocked out by Miguel Cotto, beats Williams, who knocks out Quintana in the rematch. Cotto beats Mosley, who twice beat De La Hoya, who gave Mayweather a life-and-death struggle. Margarito takes apart Cotto with surprising ease. Mosley struggled before knocking out Ricardo Mayorga, who was obliterated by De La Hoya, who himself was embarrassed by Pacquiao. Mosley then comes back to knock out Margarito, who has a rematch with Cotto, which could coincide with the initiation of the aforementioned four-man tournament.
I haven’t even mentioned Andre Berto or Joshua Clottey, who likely would’ve beaten Margarito if not for injuring his hands early in their December 2006 match up. Berto, Clottey and Williams are the odd-men-out, the wild cards in a wild division. These are glory days, and we have old man Mosley to thank for not allowing the division to rest.
Meanwhile, Pavlik has moved back to middleweight where he is still the boss, and Hopkins has no logical opponent at 175.