By Danny Serratelli[Originally published at Eastside Boxing.]
25.02.06 – Despite the consensus among most boxing “experts” that both of these fighters were well past their prime and the loser should retire, the people who showed up or tuned in were in for something special tonight. It was a shame that the fight was eventually stopped because Fernando Vargas’s left eye swelled tightly shut. Although it was great to see Las Vegas commissioner Mark Ratner, the doctor and referee Joe Cortez monitoring the situation closely, it broke my heart as much as Fernando’s when referee Joe Cortez jumped in and stopped it at 1:22 or round number 10.
Upon discussion in the corner about a potential stoppage after round number 9, visions of Arturo Gatti vs. Wilson Rodriguez, and Kevin Kelly-Derrick Gainer came to mind, specifically, times when it may usually be the right time to stop the fight because a fighter’s eye is swollen shut. Despite what a true warrior like Vargas, Gatti or Kelly is usually saying the eye is swollen shut and in all reality, there isn’t much they can see out of it at that point. However, despite protocol, referee’s take the character, heart and will of the fighter into consideration and give him a little more time, and rightfully so. Both Gatti and Kelly, with eyes swollen shut ended up knocking their opponents out in those fights after close calls with the doctor and referee. While Vargas probably wouldn’t have stopped Mosley (who has never been stopped), 1.) In boxing you never know and 2.) He was fighting well and not taking a lot of punishment at the time of the stoppage.
At the time of the stoppage, my scorecard read the same as two of the judges, 86-85 for “Sugar” Shane Mosley, but despite the gruesome eye Vargas was fighting his heart out and fighting intelligently. While Mosley showed that he still possesses the lightning quick hand speed and reflexes that hade him indestructible in the lower weight classes, Vargas looked outclassed for the most of the first three rounds. However, it wasn’t class but just pure speed that was giving Fernando problems, and put him behind 3-0 after 3 rounds.
While it appeared both men had their best days behind them leading up to this fight, both showed that they still had what it takes to compete at the highest level in boxing today. Shane’s blazing speed and movement is still there, but what was most impressive was Fernando Vargas ring intelligence and ability to adapt and win rounds in this fight. It is a well known fact that Vargas has always had a heart as big as anyone, but his discipline, intelligence and ability to make adjustments in a fight are as good as it gets in boxing. With the eye swelling closed rapidly he appeared to be taking control of the fight and appeared to win 4 of the last 6 rounds prior to the stoppage.
Vargas used his size advantage to push Mosley around and started to time Shane more effectively as the fight wore on. It appeared early that Vargas would be out worked, but that his plan was to use his strength and his natural size advantage and come on more and more as the fight progressed. He seemed to be on track, but to Mosley’s credit, he saw the eye and exploited it. He admittedly looked to his new “Golden Boy Buddies” Oscar and Bernard who encouraged him to go after the eye.
It appeared Manny Stewart was on point when he said that the commission, referee, and doctor let the fight continue after the 9th round because despite the eye Fernando appeared to win the round. There was no argument (except from Vargas) regarding the stoppage and it surely was a gruesome site to see from referee Joe Cortez’s vantage point, but Larry Merchant mentioned and Fernando Vargas was very sincere in his statement that he wanted to continue, and still could have won the fight.
It did not appear that either fighter was ever seriously hurt in the fight, and considering the eye, Vargas was fighting a great fight with the faster Mosley. Vargas was not taking a beating like the way fighters who incur serious injury in the ring do, it was just a lot of swelling around the eye that was certainly impairing his vision, but it appeared that Vargas was making adjustments and even slipping punches that it is doubtful he saw coming.
To everyone’s surprise this fight appeared to elevate both fighters current standing in their respective divisions. Styles make fights and Vargas-Wright II and Mayweather-Mosley are now very marketable fights, much more so then before Vargas-Mosley. While Mayweather is currently everyone’s pound for pound king and is currently scheduled to fight Zab Judah, everyone knows his biggest weapon is his supernatural speed. Other then Judah, Shane Mosley may be the only guy in or around welterweight who can compete with Mayweather’s speed.
Mosley must be given a lot of credit for this performance, and does not deserve a lot of the bashing he takes in the press. The man beat Oscar DeLaHoya twice. Although the rematch resulted in a highly disputed decision he was awarded the decision by the judges. Also a look at Mosley’s record the 4 losses seems like a mistake until your realize that he immediately fought rematches with both of the men who defeated him, and while both times he showed improvement, he appeared to still come up short again because of the styles of Forrest and Wright.
After a great fight, hats off to both of these former world champions. While Mosley admirably came up to a weight class that he was not as comfortable at and got the job done, there was no loser in this fight. People are so quick to judge a fighter with 1 or 2 losses, or even shaky wins and write them off. Like “they” say, you are only as good as your last fight. Perfection is demanded in boxing more so then in any major sport, and its simply unfair. The sport is always desperately in need of fighters with mainstream recognition, so it is great to welcome these two former and possibly future world champions back to the top.