In what had the look beforehand of a night of sitting ducks, the ducks decided to do some flappin’. Shane Mosley had some trouble with the wildly unpredictable Ricardo Mayorga before finishing him off in literally the last second of Saturday’s HBO double-header, while Andre Berto got unnerved early by Steve Forbes only to squash all that pretty decisively by the end.
I said before the fight that what mattered about these fights is not if Mosley and Berto would win, but how. By that standard, I think Mosley’s win doesn’t quite fail the “how” test, but it gets a gentleman’s C-. Berto, by contrast, lived up almost precisely to my expectation, so he gets a solid B.
Young welterweight (147 lbs.) beltholder Berto conquered his stiffest test yet, comprehensively beating the smaller, but crafty, quick and defensively astute Steve Forbes. I had Berto winning 11 of 12 rounds, but even if a couple rounds could’ve gone either way, Berto won pretty easily.
It did not appear it would turn out that way after Forbes had himself a mighty fine 2nd round. He was countering Berto and beating him to the punch, and Berto was transparently flummoxed. Forbes made Berto realize he also was fleet of hand, and, worse, really hard to hit cleanly. Then Berto came back urgently in the 3rd, reestablishing that his aggressiveness would not be denied, and after the ref ruled that a cut over Forbes’ eye came from a head butt, not a punch as Berto believed, young Mr. Berto turned the dial all the way up to 11. Berto was in control the rest of the way, and his youthful exuberance carried him to victory.
I think Berto beat Forbes more convincingly than Oscar De La Hoya did, which was the big idea. It wasn’t his most exciting performance simply because Forbes’ defensive accumen made for a lack of action in places, but it wasn’t exactly a snoozer, either. To get an “A” from me, he would’ve needed to knock out Forbes. But this’ll do.
Next for the winner: If Berto doesn’t fight a fellow top-10 contender next, he’ll be wasting everyone’s time. He’s ready. He showed some grit by refusing to allow Forbes to generate any momentum off round 2, his defense took another step forward, and he passed his toughest test without any major questions. Luis Collazo is the mandatory contender for Berto’s title. That would be a perfectly acceptable fight; Collazo’s like Forbes, but younger, trickier and left-handed.
Next for the loser: Forbes said he would retire if he didn’t beat Berto. That’s his prerogative, but I think he needs to stay at 140 or below, and if he does, he’s a borderline title contender.¬ He hung tough against De La Hoya and Berto despite a significant size disadvantage, which is why I don’t get as hard on him as some people do about what they perceive as his tendency to give in. But I don’t see how Forbes could’ve beaten either De La Hoya or Berto. He doesn’t have enough at that weight.
You do have to give Mosley (154 lbs.) credit for closing the show, so let’s start there. Scoring a knockout at 2:59 of the 12th round demonstrated that Mosley’s a true fighter and showman. But I’m with Larry Merchant: “What took you so long?” he asked Mosley afterwards.
Mayorga’s rushes really confounded Mosley early on, and he appeared to be headed for the canvass after a 1st round uppercut. I think this made Mosley a little timid for a few rounds. He also was surely timing Mayorga’s rushes and waiting for him to tire, but the combintation of those three things made it so that I had Mayorga winning the first three rounds. And while Mosley took over after that for the most part, there were still some closer rounds than I ever would have dreamed.I was not suprised at all that one judge had Mayorga ahead going into the 12th round.
Mosley has always been a sharp boxer, albeit one with a tendency to brawl, while Mayorga couldn’t box his way out of a paper bag. It makes no sense to me that the fight would’ve been so close. Was it rust from Mosley not fighting since November? Was it that Mayorga fought better than expected and Mayorga’s 10-pound weight advantage? Or, at age 37, has the timeless wonder that has been Shane Mosley begun to slow? Again, it could be all of the above. But, while the premise of Mosley’s answer to a Larry Merchant question was that Antonio Margarito’s schedule is full and he needs to get busy now, Mosley didn’t sound so hot on fighting Margarito anymore, or Miguel Cotto, or even berto. I think Mosley might realize that age is nipping at his heels.
Next for the winner: I think Mosley should stick to the seniors tour. No shame in that. A third fight with either Vernon Forrest or Oscar De La Hoya would be a great close to a Hall of Fame-caliber career, and give Mosley one last big cash infusion before retiring.
Next for the loser: Based on his performance, Mayorga probably earned himself yet another lucrative payday. It’s amazing what a lot of mouth and a little danger has done for this man’s career. Middleweight (160 lbs.) champ Kelly Pavlik was looking at him as a stay-busy opponent not that long ago, and I wouldn’t be surprised at all if Mayorga gets someone like that.