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Fight Report - Mosley-De La Hoya

Chris Bushnell
Mosley pounds on De LaHoya
No controversy and no excuses leave De La Hoya's career in limbo

When Shane Mosley stepped into the ring to face Oscar De La Hoya for the welterweight championship, all the questions about his size had to be set aside.  The perception that Mosley was too small for De La Hoya was dispelled with the statistic that coming through the ropes, Mosley had 3 pounds on De La Hoya.  After a day of rehydration and big meals, De La Hoya's 152 lbs. lagged behind Mosley's 155.  If De La Hoya was going to defend his newly restored welterweight title, he was going to have to win on skills, not size.

Shane Mosley entered the ring first wearing the broad smile that betrayed his confidence.  Once in the ring, he had plenty of time to kill as De La Hoya continued to warm up on the mitts in the dressing room while a new song from Oscar's forthcoming music album lulled the all-star crowd to sleep.  Taking his sweet time into the ring, De La Hoya finally stepped through the ropes while a Mariachi band played a seemingly endless tune.  But not even Michael Buffer's extended list of introductions could delay the inevitable.  Eventually the bell rang and one of the most highly anticipated fights of the year began.

Shane Mosley rushed across the ring and immediately smacked Oscar with a big lead right hand.  Throwing the frantic and spastic flurries that defined his fight with Willy Wise, Shane Mosley wasted no time in battering Oscar across the ring.  A few more thudding right hands raised some swelling around
Oscar's left eye.  As both men exploded with short combinations, the speed on display in center ring was mesmerizing.  Mosley's aggression took De La Hoya by surprise, and Oscar forgot about the jab he claimed would be the key to his
victory.  Instead, Mosley flicked his own jab across the distance, and caught
De La Hoya on the nose with it more often than not.  After the round was over,
Mosley raised his hands in victory and a frustrated De La Hoya shook his head
and returned to his corner.

De La Hoya came out strong in the second round, fully aware that he needed to
establish control immediately.  Firing his hook downstairs, it was Oscar who
worked the body while Mosley looked for more right hand opportunities.  Prior
to the fight, De La Hoya had promised aggression and brawling over boxing and
moving.  For once, his pre-fight claims were the truth.  Although he may have
benefited from more jabbing and footwork, Oscar instead lowered his head and
attacked Mosley with power punches. 

The fight was never more even than in the third and fourth rounds, both of
which could have gone to either fighter.  Boxing Chronicle gave Mosley round
three and Oscar round four, but both men had their moments in either stanza. 
In the third, Oscar was the one coming forward, although he didn't throw
enough punches to score on effective aggression.  At the end of the third,
both men exchanged big right hands and neither man was fazed.  In the fourth
round, Mosley finally displayed some of the body work he is famous for, but
De La Hoya was picking him off on top.  There were very few jabs thrown in
these sequences, although when there was a stick, it was Shane's.

In the fifth and sixth rounds, De La Hoya got into a rhythm and went to work on
the challenger.  As Mosley moved (mostly backwards), Oscar attacked.  Mosley may have been intoxicated by his success landing the right hand in the first, because it everything he did was an attempt to set up an opening for another big right.  While looking for that one punch, Mosley was fighting in a very un-Mosley-like fashion.  His combinations were missing, his body attack had ceased when he began taking shots upstairs, and his looking for one big punch led to him not offering much offense.  Meanwhile, De La Hoya was warming up his killer left hand.  Towards the end of the fifth, Oscar pulled a vicious left hook across Mosley's face.  Shane's legs momentarily stiffened up.  Although he did not go down, or even allow his wobble to be too noticeable, Mosley had clearly tasted DelaHoya's power.  But he was still standing...and that alone answered the biggest question of the evening.

In the sixth, De La Hoya was stalking Mosley.  As he walked him down, he landed increasingly powerful punches.  With Mosley looking for one punch and
De La Hoya establishing a firm lead, Mosley desperately needed to turn things
around.  De La Hoya had banked four of the first six rounds, and Shane looked

Mosley was well aware of the hole he was digging for himself, and when he
began the seventh he was a new man.  On his toes and once again darting his
head every which way, Mosley began using his left hook to great effect. 
While De La Hoya was being told in between rounds that he need only worry about Mosley's right, Mosley unveiled his left.  Bunching his punches paid dividends for the challenger.  Upstairs and down, Mosley fired at De La Hoya
and landed.  De la Hoya fired back.  Both fighters were pounding each other on
the arms, gloves, sides and head.  Mosley's renewed output banked him the
round and set the pace for the second half of the fight.

Make no mistake, the second half of De La Hoya-Mosley was completely different than the first.  On the scorecard, Mosley won every single round.  In the eighth, after flurrying on De La Hoya for a minute,
Mosley switched to southpaw.  This is a trick De La Hoya had frequently used on his opponents, but when the tables were turned, De La Hoya didn't know what to do.  While Mosley circled and threw long lefts to the body, De La Hoya just stared.  For half a round, De La Hoya simply watched Mosley play games in front of him.  It was a huge boost to Mosley's confidence and a chance for him to settle into a groove.  He never looked back.

Mosley continued to power box Oscar in the ninth.  Using speed and
combinations, Mosley would tag Oscar and then move out of harm's way. 
Occasionally, the two men stood toe to toe, but Mosley landed first and last.
 Midway through the ninth round, De La Hoya landed his best punch of the night.  Mosley backed up to the ropes with his hands lowered and De La Hoya fired his trademark left hook/uppercut firmly into Mosley's jaw.  Mosley head swiveled, snot flew from his nose, and the crowd gasped.  But Mosley did not falter.  Instead, as in so many fights before, the power of DelaHoya's punch angered Mosley, and the challenger raged back at De La Hoya in a rabid outpouring of blinding punches.  Mosley pounded De La Hoya with the right hand over and over, and when the flurry finally let up, Mosley punctuated it by firing four hard unanswered jabs right into the Golden Boy's face. 

The tenth round was also one of Mosley's best.  One at a time, the two men
would trade flurries.  Mosley would throw an exaggerated right hand, a left
hook up and down and then another right.  De La Hoya would fire back but miss.  For almost the entire round, Mosley would bully De La Hoya and then avoid the return fire.  De la Hoya missed with a number of home-run swing left hooks, and he began to fight with the desperation of a fighter who feels the momentum slipping away.  In between these combination exchanges, Mosley put out his jab.  Believe it or not, Mosley was outjabbing Oscar De La Hoya.  When Team De La Hoya looks back at the films, they are going to be stunned to see what we all saw in that tenth round:  the smaller man outjabbing Oscar with ease.

In the eleventh round, the pace continued much as it had in the tenth: 
Mosley would land and Oscar would miss.  Mosley's footwork was also giving
him a tremendous advantage.  De La Hoya's desire to brawl had him coming
forward for most of the round, but while Shane circled, he rarely was pushed
back to the ropes.  So long as the fight was fought at center ring, Mosley's
ring generalship was on display.  It was now De La Hoya's turn to tire,
especially after so many misses. When Oscar did land a heavy left to the body
at mid-round, Mosley again wisely switched to southpaw.  Again, De La Hoya
simply watched Mosley.  He either didn't know what to do or needed a
breather.  It was probably a combination of the two.  Either De La Hoya didn't
have a game plan for this stage of the fight or he couldn't implement one. 
Going into the final round, De La Hoya needed a knockout to win.

There is only one description that fits the 12th and final round:  it was
easily the round of the year.  Before the round began, De La Hoya was getting
some bizarre advice from pseudo-trainer Roberto Alcazar.  Alcazar told Oscar
"This is the last round, be careful" and also told him "C'mon Oscar, we need
this round."  But De La Hoya didn't need to be reminded of the situation he was
in.  He already knew.  When the 12th round began, he attacked Mosley with
everything left in his tank.

Mosley obliged Oscar's warfare, despite a plea from his father to keep
boxing.  As the two men let their hands go in the middle of the ring, the
crowd of nearly 20,000 was screaming in delight.  De La Hoya was desperate, and Mosley was willing to exchange.  But after each man slipped on moisture in
center ring, time was called.  Referee Lou Moret took way too long to secure
a towel and wipe up the offending puddle.  The delay threatened to sap the
energy from the fight, but when the bout resumed, both fighters went right
back to their thrilling brawl.

While De La Hoya was going for broke, Mosley landed not only the biggest
punches of the fight, but the hardest blows Oscar had eaten in his entire
career.  Reaching back and throwing windmill overhand rights, Mosley three
times swiveled De La Hoya's head in center ring.  The third of these gigantic
punches really stunned De La Hoya, although he never stopped firing back.  A
few times the fighters clinched, but after quick breaks, the punches flew
again.  The final ten seconds had each man swinging freely while the decibel
level at the Stapes Center reached a fever pitch.  When the final bell rang,
the two men immediately hugged.  Everyone knew the result, especially the
fighters.  Mosley had clearly won the final round, and as De La Hoya returned
to his corner, his face showed the frustration of a mission unaccomplished. 

When the wait for the scorecards was over, Michael Buffer read the scores. 
The first card read 116-112 for Mosley (same as BoxingChronicle).  The second card read a preposterous 115-113 for De La Hoya.  As Michael Buffer announced 115-113 as the third and deciding score, the skepticism could be felt swelling in every boxing fan's heart.  How many times had we seen the "house
fighter" get a close split decision?  And so, while Mosley deserved the win,
there was still an element of surprise when Buffer boomed "and NEW
welterweight champion" to give Mosley the decision he so richly deserved.

After the fight, De La Hoya was eerily at peace with the decision.  Prior to
the fight, De La Hoya had talked often of his money and his outside of the ring
activities.  In one interview, he even claimed that losing wasn't the worst
thing in the world.  So, as he talked about how satisfied he was that the
fans got a good show, onlookers wondered what happened to  the competitor who once sought victory with the passion of a man obsessed.  Still, beneath the
poster-boy smile was a harsh reality.  This was no robbery.  There was no
controversy over the scores (except for the card that had Oscar winning). 
Without any doubt, De La Hoya had been handed a clean loss.  He knew it.  What happens next will be most intriguing.

De La Hoya has no excuse to fall back on this time.  While he has often claimed
that he didn't train hard, or was hampered by an injury coming into a given
fight, that certainly wasn't the case this evening.  Looking thin and buffed
out, De La Hoya appeared to be in superior condition.  Before the fight, he
boasted that his training camp had gone perfectly.  Now it's time to blame
someone.  Hopefully the blame will fall on the inept Roberto Alcazar.  After
every questionable De La Hoya outing, a trainer has been canned.  While
Professor Rivero, Emanuel Steward and recently Gil Clancy have all gotten the
boot, crafty Roberto Alcazar has amazingly held onto a piece of the De La Hoya
corner.  Now that he has been soundly beaten, perhaps Alcazar will finally
get his long-overdue pink slip.  Alcazar's knowledge of boxing has always
been suspect, and this evening was no different.  His between round advice to
Oscar was simultaneously vague and unhelpful.  While Oscar should not be
ashamed at the way he fought (he matched his boasts of a new aggressive
style), he clearly was on his own in the ring.  Maybe a reunion with Steward
could rekindle De La Hoya's winning ways.

As for Shane Mosley, the smile after the fight was as big as the one he was
wearing before the fight.  He had just won the one fight that he had sought
for so many years.  Without dispute, he is now considered the best 147 lb.
fighter in the world.  He is only the fourth man in history to win a world
championship at lightweight and welterweight.  Banking $4 million tonight, he
will likely make more than double that amount in the rematch with De La Hoya. 
That rematch was part of the contract for this fight, so expect the fireworks
to resume by September, 2000.

Overall, this was a great night for boxing.  There was a big fight in a city
unaccustomed to the boxing mega-event.  There was a sizzling contest between
two fighters in their prime.  And best of all, there was absolutely no
controversy involved with the proceedings.  Shane Mosley now sits atop the
boxing world.  Having once and for all earned his "Sugar" nickname, Mosley
has elevated his career to an entirely new level.  In a masterful performance
that may not have even been his best, Shane Mosley proved why he deserves to
be considered one of the two or three best pound for pound fighters in the
game today.

....Chris Bushnell

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