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When Young and Strong, Mosley and Wright Made A Mark

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MargaritoMosley Hogan 22January 2009 was the last time Mosley showed us more than a glimpse of the old “Sugar.”

There was a certain odd symmetry to the way things ended for Shane Mosley and Winky Wright this week.

Both announced their retirement from boxing at the age of 40 on the same day. Both had recently lost one-sided bouts to far younger men, beaten as much by the calendar as the young men in front of them. Both had, at one time, been joined in that odd way two fighters become entwined when they challenge each other twice and one proves to be superior.

Yet what is oddest of all about their career arc is that Mosley will be rightly remembered as the better fighter and the more popular one yet it was Wright who twice defeated him when they were still in their prime or close to it. That is boxing for you, a sport where one man can simply be the endless nemesis of the other while never quite as good when facing different opponents or trying to please a crowd.

Last month Mosley lost every round to a 21-year-old champion who was the same age as his son. Apparently, that loss to Saul Alvarez made Mosley think when other defeats had not and he decided he’d had enough.

The winner of five world titles in three weight classes, Mosley was never better than when he was a lightweight. He had blinding speed at 135 pounds and withering power. Some compared him to Roberto Duran, although that always seemed like a reach because Duran may well have been the greatest lightweight in boxing history.

Yet even if he was not Duran, Mosley was special at that weight and still good enough to become a world champion later at both welterweight and junior middleweight. His mistake was that after first defeating Oscar De La Hoya by split decision in 2000 he thought that beating “the Man’’ made him “the Man.’’ As many fighters learn the hard way it did not.

Instead of accepting a big-money rematch he defended the welterweight title three times before running into a familiar nemesis, Vernon Forrest. Forrest had denied Mosley a spot on the Olympic team in 1992 and now 10 years later defeated him easily again, dropping him twice and badly cutting him with an accidental butt.

Instead of regrouping, he invoked an immediate rematch clause only to lose again but a year later he upset De La Hoya a second time in a decidedly controversial decision to win a junior middleweight title. Instead of accepting $8 million for an immediate rematch he listened to ill-informed advisor Judd Burstein and challenged the larger and exceedingly complicated Wright to a unification fight.

Wright had long ago been dubbed “The International Man of Misery’’ by boxing publicist Fred Sternburg because for years he toiled in obscurity, fighting and winning around the world as a defensive master displeasing to American audiences but revered in Europe, where the taste for fisticuffs is more refined.

For five years, 1993-1998, Wright fought in eight different countries but seldom in the U.S. even after becoming a world champion. Mosley gave him a shot at something more and he took it, defeating him handily in their first fight and then winning a majority decision when Mosley repeated his mistake with Forrest and insisted upon an immediate rematch eight months later.

Wright (51-6-1, 25 KO) would never please American crowds but he was like fighting the matrix. His defensive prowess was well deserved and his offense came off that defense and did enough damage to twice win him the junior middleweight titles and send Felix Trinidad back into retirement by pitching a shutout against him.

Mosley (46-8-1, 39 KO) was, to be fair, both the superior fighter and the more pleasing one but he could not solve Wright and it seemed his career went into decline after that, especially after losing to Miguel Cotto three years later for the welterweight title. But like many of the best fighters, Mosley had one great night in him and it came on Jan. 24, 2009.

That night he destroyed the myth of Antonio Margarito when first his trainer Nazeem Richardson caught Margarito trying to wear loaded hand wraps, an act that would cause him a year’s suspension and a lifetime of shame. Mosley then beat him half to death for nine lopsided rounds before the fight was stopped with Margarito’s face unrecognizable from what it had been when the evening began.

That victory turned out to be a mirage. Shane Mosley never won again, finishing his career 0-3-1 over the next three years. He lost in lopsided fashion to Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Manny Pacquiao (no shame in that at his age), fought a desultory draw with Sergio Mora in between and then lost for the final time to Alvarez last month.

That last defeat to a kid half his age finally convinced Mosley of the obvious. Like many formerly great fighters he could still see the openings but they closed before he could react. He could still see the punches coming but he could no longer block them before they landed.

No shame in that. It is how it goes in boxing for everyone but the few who leave in time. The only shame actual of Mosley’s likely Hall of Fame career came after the second De La Hoya fight when it came to light he’d used performance enhancing drugs the “clear’’ and the “cream’’ under the direction of disgraced former San Francisco-area supplement distributor Victor Conte and his own strength and conditioning coach, Darryl Hudson.

To this day Mosley insists he was duped and unknowing, although Conte and Hudson have argued otherwise. Regardless of the truth of Mosley’s position, De La Hoya accepted him into his company as a partner for a time and they remain respectful after having been rivals dating back to their childhood days as amateur sensations around Los Angeles.

Mosley was never quite De La Hoya even though he beat him twice but he was one of the finest fighters of his time. Wright was never quite Mosley although he beat him twice and was certainly one of the best junior middleweights in the world for nearly a decade.

Such are the vagaries of boxing, a sport where as Mick Jagger might sing, ‘You can’t always get what you want but if you try some times, well, you just might find, you get what you need.’’

If Mosley and Wright needed to make names for themselves in the difficult world of prize fighting they succeeded. Final defeat does not diminish their accomplishments even though Mosley was 0-3-1 in his final years and Wright lost his final three fights over a five year period in which he retired for three years before coming back to be beaten last weekend by up-and-coming prospect Peter “Kid Chocolate’’ Quillin (26-0) in a fight in which he lost nearly every round.

Waiting for him in his locker room at the Home Depot Center in Carson, CA. after it was over was his old friend and foil, Shane Mosley. They were together one last time, friends and aging warriors upon whom boxing had turned its back as it always does.

Mosley now says he will train his young son and try to build his own promotional company in California. Wright intends to play golf and watch his money wisely with the help of long-time friend, Jim Wilkes, a successful Florida attorney who directed much of his career.

Two great boxers had come to the end of their time inside the ring the way nearly every prize fighter does. They had been defeated by time but raise their hands up one last time for all they achieved because when they were young and strong and fast they made a mark that will be remembered.

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Tanaka vs. Kimora: A Monday Morning Treat For Serious Fight Fans

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Kosei Tanaka was just 4-0 the first time he was appraised on The Sweet Science back in 2015; the question then was, is Tanaka the world’s brightest boxing prospect? The question now is whether or not Tanaka is about to add a strap at a third weight to an already glittering career that has seen him annex belts at 105 and 108lbs in just his first eight fights.

Now 11-0 with seven knockouts he prepares, this coming Monday, to duel Sho Kimura in Nagoya, Japan and with a lot more than just the WBO trinket on the line.

Hearts and minds, as always, translate into dollars and yen. The winner of this all-Japanese contest will find himself buoyed in fame, glory and gold in his home country, which also happens to be one of the few places on the planet where a boxer can collect a small fortune without ever leaving his native shores. Should the winner dare to dream a wider dream, then that too can be facilitated by the win.  Even fistic denizens of boxing strongholds in Japan and Britain feel a shiver run down their spines when the words “Las Vegas headliner” are whispered into their ear.

The favored man among the hardcore in the west is Tanaka. He is still very young at just twenty-three years old and is slick and quick, what the west expects of a Japanese force. Interestingly enough, however, the Japanese seem to be leaning towards Kimura: older, at twenty-nine, armed with a superb work-rate, good power, limited technique but the conqueror of Chinese superstar Shiming Zou who he stopped in the summer of 2017. Zou may have had his bubble burst by the Thai brawler Amnat Ruenroeng in 2015, but it was Kimura who sent him stumbling into retirement and at a time when the talk was of China stealing Japan’s thunder as boxing’s home in the east.

Kimura was indeed impressive that night in Shanghai. He maintained pressure with wonderful variety, eschewing the jab, perhaps, for spells, but filling those gaps with an assortment of wonderful punches, most of all his body attack, which was persistent, withering, and apparently went unscored by two of the three judges who somehow had the Chinese ahead at the time of the eleventh round stoppage. Zou had shown a skill for flurrying while fleeing and Kimura had shown him how to fight.

Now a strapholder at 112lbs, Kimura staged two defenses in the following twelve months. The first was against Toshiyuki Igarashi, the man who beat Sonny Boy Jaro, the man who had beaten the superb champion Pongsaklek Wonjongkam before a softer fight against Froilan Saludar. He won both by stoppage.

Kimura, then, rather came from nowhere but made the most of his arrival. What he displayed in all three of these fights was a determination to offer pressure and footwork educated enough to do it while taking many fewer steps than his harried opponent. A tad overrated as a puncher, I suspect, he places himself in hitting position often enough that his default fight plan – chase, harass, throw – makes him capable of hurting his opponents by way of persistence and pressure.

He left Zou, Igarashi and Saludar, broken in his wake.

In short, he is the type of opponent Kosei Tanaka has been waiting for.

There have been calls for Tanaka to be considered a pound-for-pound talent should he overcome Kimura this Monday. I understand the impulse. Tanaka, were he to triumph, would become a three-weight world champion and he hails from a boxing territory which has little direct control over the meaningful pound-for-pound lists, if such a statement is not a contradiction in terms.

In short, it is felt he would be undervalued.

Tempering these calls is the fact that he has never beaten a divisional number one and that Kimura would be, by far, the best opponent he would have bested, and the most proven. Some Tanaka opponents have come good after he defeated them, some were ranked in the lower reaches of their respective divisional top tens when he matched them, but none are scalps as impressive as those dangled by the likes of Errol Spence or Anthony Joshua, who populate the nine, ten and eleven spots in reputable lists.

But this is neither here nor there; the key is not what Kimura does not represent, it is what he does represent. He is the best that Tanaka has met and, I would argue, the first truly elite fighter that Tanaka has met. He is the litmus test and he is one with a stylistic advantage.

Tanaka can punch. Here we will find out whether or not he punches hard enough to keep Kimura off him. Personally, I doubt it and that means that Kimura is going to hand him a serious gut check.

Interestingly, it will not be Tanaka’s first. The first time I wrote about him I stressed that his chin was essentially untested. That is no longer true. Tanaka, who is reasonably sound defensively, can be lazy in minding himself and foolish in pursuing the attack.

Thai puncher Rangsan Chayanram checked him in 2017, delivering a serious eye injury among other ignominies before succumbing in nine; puncher Angel Acosta, a ranked fighter if not a great one, hit and hurt Tanaka repeatedly late in their 2017 contest. If Tanaka has been learning these lessons, expectations concerning his potential may be realized. If he is not, he will fall short. Kimura is the man to test him.

Kimura’s experience and seemingly limitless twelve-round stamina are to be pitted against Tanaka’s skill, proven heart and taut footwork. It sees a superior technician – Tanaka – who has shown a propensity for being drawn into a cruder fighter’s wheelhouse matching an aggressive stalker – Kimura – who specializes in drawing technically superior foes into knockdown-drag-out scraps.

It is framed both as a fight that is likely to finish a future pound-for-pounder’s education and a fight where a young pretender is found out by a grizzled veteran.

Best of all, it is a fight that fight fans can watch for free, simply by clicking here.  The Asian Boxing website has secured exclusive international rights to the fight and will broadcasting it, free of charge, to anyone with an internet connection. As can be seen here, the fight is due to start at 4pm Japanese time.

All the reader has to do is find out what that means for timing in their own corner of the globe and a potential fight of the year will unfold before his or her eyes free of charge.

World class boxing being broadcast for free and including two of the best below 115lbs; a stylistic crossroads contest that opens up the on-ramp to pound-for-pound recognition for at least one of the combatants – on a Monday.  All facts worth keeping in mind the next time that someone tells you boxing’s prime was any number of decades ago.

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Fast Results From London: Joshua Takes Out Povetkin in the 7th

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UK sporting

It was a very wet night at Wembley Stadium, but the dampness didn’t diminish the enthusiasm of the crowd which welcomed UK sporting hero Anthony Joshua into the ring with a thunderous ovation. And Joshua didn’t disappoint. After six relatively even rounds, he found his range in the seventh and became the first man to stop Alexander Povetkin. A three punch combo that began with an overhand right sent Povetkin sprawling into the ropes. The Russian beat the count, but Joshua smelled blood and as soon as the ref allowed the proceedings to continue he moved in for the kill. The official time was 1:59.

Povetkin started fast and in the eyes of many observers won the first three rounds. A sharp right hand in the waning seconds of round one reddened Joshua’s nose which leaked blood in the next round. The tide began to turn in round four when Povetkin suffered a cut above his left eye.

Povetkin (now 34-2), was the lighter man by 23 pounds. Joshua had a four inch height advantage and a seven inch reach advantage. And it mattered greatly that AJ was the younger man by 10-plus years. Povetkin wasn’t intimidated by Joshua and had several good moments but, at age 39, his reflexes betrayed him once the fight had crossed the midpoint.

Joshua, who owns three of the four meaningful heavyweight title belts, improved to 22-0 with his 21st stoppage. His next fight is penciled in for April 13 of next year against an opponent to be determined. His promoter Eddie Hearn has reserved that date at Wembley Stadium.

Other Bouts

In a 12-round lightweight bout, Joshua’s Olympic Games teammate and fellow gold medalist Luke Campbell (19-2) avenged the first loss of his career with a unanimous decision (119-109, 118-111,116-112) over France’s Yvan Mendy (40-5-1). This was Campbell’s second start since coming up short in a bid for Jorge Linares’s lightweight title and his first fight under his new trainer Shane McGuigan.

In their first meeting in December of 2015 at London’s O2 Arena, Mendy won a split decision that should have been unanimous. Campbell insisted that he had improved greatly in the interim and tonight’s fight bore witness. However, he needs to develop a harder punch to rank among the top lightweights in the world, a list headed by Mikey Garcia. As this fight was framed as a WBC title eliminator, Campbell is next in line to meet Garcia, but Mikey has indicated that he will pursue bigger game.

Lawrence Okolie, a 2016 Olympian who trains with Anthony Joshua, won a Lonsdale belt in only his 10th pro start with a 12-round decision over defending BBBofC cruiserweight champion Matty Askin in a messy fight. The undefeated Okolie had a point deducted in round five for leading with his head and had two more points deducted for holding, but banked enough rounds to get the nod on all three cards: 116-110, 114-112, and 114-113. Askin, who declined to 23-4-1, had won five straight heading in.

A 10-round heavyweight match between Sergey Kuzmin (13-0, 1 NC) and David Price (22-6) ended suddenly when Price retired on his stool after four relatively even rounds. The six-foot-eight, china-chinned Price claimed to have aggravated a biceps tear.

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Michael Dutchover Remains Undefeated in Ontario, Calif.

Transplanted Texan Michael Dutchover needed a little time to figure out Costa Rican Bergman Aguilar but when he did it was over quickly on Friday.

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Michael Dutchover

ONTARIO-Calif.-Transplanted Texan Michael Dutchover needed a little time to figure out Costa Rican Bergman Aguilar but when he did it was over quickly on Friday.

Lightweight prospect Dutchover (11-0, 8 KOs) knocked out southpaw Aguilera (14-4-1, 4 KOs) in the fifth round with a barrage of body blows that left the Costa Rican limp at the Doubletree Hotel.

For two rounds Aguilar used an awkward counter-punching style that had Dutchover a little tentative. But once he figured out that combination punching was the key, he opened up with barrages and floored Aguilar with body shots at the end of round four.

That signaled doom for Aguilar.

The fifth round saw Dutchover target the body with impunity as Aguilar tried holding, running and covering up with no success. Referee Wayne Hedgepeth signaled the fight over at 2:31 of the fifth round giving Dutchover the win by knockout.

In a bantamweight clash Santa Ana’s Mario Hernandez (7-0-1, 3 KOs) and Mexico City’s Ivan Gonzalez (4-1-2, 1 KO) fought to a majority draw after six back and forth rounds.

Hernandez targeted the body against the taller Gonzalez who relied on long range counters. Both found success but neither could prove superiority after six turbulent rounds.

After six rounds one judge saw it 58-56 for Gonzalez but the two other judges saw it 57-57 for a majority draw.

Other bouts

South Central L.A.’s Ruben Torres (7-0, 6 KOs) extended his undefeated streak with a knockout over Mexico’s Eder “El Koreano” Amaro (6-6, 2 KOs) in a lightweight fight. But it wasn’t easy.

Amaro switched from southpaw to orthodox and was matching Torres for two rounds until the taller local fighter began blasting away to the body and head with precision. Many in the crowd cheered “Koreano” in unison but it couldn’t help once Torres zeroed in.

At the end of the fourth round Amaro could not continue and the fight was stopped giving a knockout for Torres.

Richard Brewart Jr. (2-0) mowed through Edward Aceves (0-5) flooring him with body shots in the first round then overwhelming him in the second. After seven unanswered blows referee Eddie Hernandez stopped the fight at 1:32 of round two giving Rancho Cucamonga’s Brewart the win by knockout in the super welterweight bout.

Southpaw David Ortiz (1-0) won his pro debut by unanimous decision after four rounds in a welterweight match against San Diego’s Mario Angeles (2-11-2). Ortiz lives in Bloomington, Calif. and is trained by Henry Ramirez. No knockdowns were scored.

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