Mosley saves best for last, but is best still enough?

9/28/2008 - Boxing
"Told you so." Shane Mosley might've come away with a win, but he failed to impress. AP Photo/Gus Ruelas

CARSON, Calif. -- Perhaps five years ago, maybe even three years ago, Ricardo Mayorga would not have lasted five rounds with "Sugar" Shane Mosley. Mosley would have figured out Mayorga's awkward style and finished him off quickly.

But at 37, Mosley is not as crisp as he once was. His punches aren't as snappy. And so, it took him 47 minutes and 59 seconds -- nearly all 12 rounds -- to stop Mayorga on a knockout (at 2:59 of the 12th round, to be technical) before a sparse crowd of 5,798 at the Home Depot Center on Saturday.

Antonio Margarito was in the audience watching Mosley, who has said he wants to fight Margarito. Mosley called his presence "interesting."

Promoter Lou DiBella found it comical.

"If they let Shane Mosley fight Antonio Margarito they should be arrested," said DiBella, promoter of Andre Berto, who defended his WBC welterweight title with a 12-round decision over Steve Forbes on the undercard.

"Margarito would put Shane in a pine box. I would put Berto in with Shane Mosley right now."

DiBella called Berto "a work in progress" but still felt his charge is up to the challenge.

At least two of the judges who were ringside for Mosley's fight with Mayorga weren't that impressed with Mosley either.

Going into the 12th round, judge Nelson Vasquez had Mosley ahead by just one point (105-104), judge Tony Crebs had it 107-102 for Mosley and judge Pat Russell had it 105-104 for Mayorga.

Mosley didn't look sharp. But it was tough to look crisp against Mayorga, whose flailing punches made him look like he was drowning. Plus, there were so many fouls -- low blows, head butts, rabbit punches, kidney punches -- that it made for an uneven fight. Mosley was able to land at will and his pop shots apparently kept piling up until that final round when he hurt Mayorga.

"I caught him with the side of my right hand and an uppercut and he wobbled," Mosley said of the first knockdown in the 12th round. "I felt him getting weaker during the fight, but he was trying to stay strong."

As soon as Mayorga got up, Mosley simply walked over to him and clocked him with a left hook that sent Mayorga sprawling back to the canvas. Referee David Mendoza didn't even bother to count. He simply waved it off.

Mosley had looked sluggish in his last fight against Miguel Cotto and he allowed Cotto to beat him with his jab. That raised a few eyebrows about Mosley's waning abilities, but it did not set off any alarms. Cotto was given more credit for a masterful performance than Mosley was given demerits for losing something off his fastball.

So the expectations were much higher for Mosley coming into the fight against Mayorga, who had been stopped by Oscar De La Hoya and Felix Trinidad and won a split decision against a washed-up Fernando Vargas in his last fight.

It might be a stretch to say that Mosley is washed up. And you have to remember that he did finish Mayorga, albeit in the final second of the fight. He said he slowed down in the eighth round because he developed blood blisters on his feet from pivoting while throwing the overhand right.

Mosley, who weighed 160 pounds at the time of the fight, said that Mayorga was a lot heavier than him at fight time, out weighing him by at least 10 pounds. With all the mauling and grabbing, Mayorga wore Mosley down through the middle rounds. But Mosley, who is always in top physical condition, had enough pop to stop Mayorga in the final frame.

At some point during the fight it must have crossed Mosley's mind just what he was doing in the ring against the technically challenged Mayorga. But Mosley did earn $1.5 million (Mayorga made $500,000). Without a title he is in no position to make demands on which fights to take.

"The No. 1 guy is Margarito," Mosley said. "He seems to be tied up with Cotto. We'll go back to the drawing board and we'll talk to [CEO of Golden Boy Promotions] Richard Schaefer to see what we should do."

Schaefer, Mosley's promoter, said he will have talks with Al Hayman and Leonard Ellerbe, the advisors for Floyd Mayweather.

"We're going to make them an indecent proposal for Mayweather," Schaefer said. "I'll be with Bob Arum on the promotional tour [for De La Hoya-Manny Pacquiao] all next week and we'll have some discussions about Margarito and Cotto.

"Margarito has been talking about De La Hoya, but he needs to take care of some business with Shane and with Paul Williams before he can think about Oscar. Just because you have one good night doesn't mean you deserve an Oscar. Shane has never been the type of guy to turn down a challenge."

Tim Smith is the boxing columnist for the New York Daily News.