| Mosley and Forrest climb welter ladder
Vernon Forrest and Shane Mosley's respective climbs up the welterweight ladder couldn't be
more different. On a night when Forrest won a tough but undisciplined battle with
former junior welter titlist Vince Phillips, Mosley instead unleashed nine minutes of fury
on a defenseless Willy Wise. Both men secured wins, but these victories made very
different statements about each man and his place in the division hierarchy.
Skilled Vernon Forrest has not faced much resistance during his seven year pro career.
Fighting overmatched trial horses has given Forrest a solid foundation of
experience, but little else. Considered untested in the boxing fraternity, it was with
great interest that eyes turned to watch his bout with hard hitting veteran Cool Vince
Phillips. Past battles with drugs and weight had diminished Phillips' chances, but
his determination and punching power made him a viable threat. Forrest would have to
The first round saw both men looking for an early night, each loading up with knockout
swings and misses. Forrest's jab had no problem finding Phillips, who landed a
number of crisp right hands in the opening frame. While each of these rights caught
Forrest's attention, Vernon maintained control by establishing himself as the crisper
puncher. As Phillips threw from his typically wobbly stance, his punches lacked the
starch needed to win the round.
As Phillips continued searching for one big starboard missile in the second round, Forrest
pumped a heavy jab into Vince's incoming mug. It was a punishing, confident jab, and
when thrown Forrest could do no wrong. Keeping Phillips at distance and off balance,
Forrest was banking another solid
round. But as the bell approached, Phillips landed one of his more stringent right
hands, and the two exchanged punches in center ring. Forrest again got the better of
the brief flurry, but it affected the way he fought the rest of the night.
As the third began, Forrest began pumping his jab even harder. The success set up
opportunities for him to now fire his own solid right cross, as well as a textbook
horizontal hook that landed on Phillips' head. Throwing more, and tasting success,
Forrest now willingly traded with Phillips. This
increased pace won another round for Forrest, but also gave Phillips opportunities to
land. Fighting on the inside afforded Phillips his only chance of victory.
Having drawn Forrest into a brawl, Phillips had his best moments in the fourth and fifth
rounds. As both men stood in a phone booth, Phillips stayed busy, hitting Forrest on
his arms, shoulders and, yes, even his chin.
Although Vince was still the
smaller, older, and slower man in the ring, he was at least fighting on his own terms.
Had Forrest continued with the jab and boxed from a distance, it would have been an
easy night. Instead, Forrest was forced to work hard, as Phillips pressed a pace
beyond his abilities. By the fourth, his right was landing with frequency, much to
the chagrin of Ronnie Shields. Between rounds, Shields and Lou Duva berated Forrest
with expletive laced instructions to box.
As the fifth began, Phillips marched to center ring sporting a huge gash over his left
eye. Whether the cut had been caused by one of Forrest's sizzling uppercuts or by a
clash of heads as both men leaned on each other was unknown, but the blood streaked down
Phillips' face. Forgoing protection of the cut, Phillips again drew Forrest into a
close quarters contest, making Vernon miss wildly over the top. Notching another
round to keep the contest interesting, Phillips had succeeded in making the fight a brawl.
Forrest briefly returned to his toes to begin the sixth round, and the results were
immediate. Working off his jab again, Forrest launched three gigantic right hands
into Phillips' face. An overhand right, followed by a full force uppercut and
another right, again opened Phillips' sliced eye,
which now flowed freely. Partially blinded, but not dissuaded, Phillips continued
pressing the action, although eating a lot of leather in the process.
For the remainder of the fight, Phillips' effectiveness was stemmed by the flow of blood
from one, and later both, eyes. But his aggressiveness nonetheless drew Forrest into
the wrong style of battle. Although Forrest swept the second half of the fight with
an array of crunching rights and slicing hooks, he brawled with a brawler. Fighting
inside prevented Forrest from finishing Phillips off, as well as allowed Phillips to land
several cracking right hands each round that otherwise could have been easily avoided.
Clearly, Forrest was not going to back down from Phillips. But Phillips, eventually
bleeding from two separate gashes over the left eye and a thin slice over the right, was
not going to fold, either. Up until the final round, Phillips followed Forrest
around, got inside and stayed there, and dictated the pace. It wasn't enough to win
the rounds, but it was enough to make it to the end. The cards reflected the
disparity in clean punches, with Forrest winning unanimously 117-111 (twice) and 120-108.
But a win is not always a win. Forrest (31-0/25) showed his skills but failed to
overwhelm. Disregarding his own game plan and his corner's emphatic requests to box,
Forrest made it harder on himself than he needed to. It's a potentially fatal flaw,
as Forrest starts landing bigger fights
against tougher competition. Worse, it made Shane Mosley's follow-up bout stand out
all the more.
Willy Wise still doesn't know what hit him. Armed with quick hands, but little else,
Wise used his handspeed and sharp reflexes to keep Mosley at bay for roughly 30 seconds of
the opening round. Eventually Wise fired a right hand to Mosley's chin. Mosley
then learned what everyone had already been saying about Wise: Quick hands, zero
power. With only seven kayos in 34 fights, Wise did not possess anywhere near the
power to stay competitive. And so, Mosley showed him zero respect.
Charging at Wise with a furious, nearly wild, barrage of punches, Mosley hammered Wise
with double right hand leads and blinding left hooks. Ending each combination with a
body blow, Mosley quickly sapped Wise of his will to win. Dipping his knees and
firing left hooks to the ribs, Mosley's body shots echoed through the Hard Rock
Casino's small venue. As the opening round closed, Mosley let loose a gigantic left
hook to the liver, followed immediately by a wide right to the side and a left uppercut to
the center of Wise's stomach. Wise folded.
Beating the count on wobbly legs as the bell sounded, a wide eyed Wise returned to his
corner. After a one minute break, the beating continued. Mosley attacked at
will in the second round, gritting his teeth and overcommitting to every wicked punch.
Mosley was landing at a high rate and
Wise was being wounded by each punishing shot. The end was clearly not far off. But
Mosley's enthusiasm overtook his own discipline, and his wild swings resulted in some big
misses and a 2 point deduction.
As referee Mitch Halpern called for a break during one such attack, Mosley clipped Wise on
the head with a left hook. Wise again dropped to the canvas, looking hurt...or least
acting hurt. Seeming to not want to continue, Wise stood on rubber legs and seemed
unable to keep eye contact with Halpern. Unsure if Wise was seriously injured on a
foul or looking for a way out, Dr.
Flip Homansky was called into the ring. A quick inspection of Wise's pupils resulted
in Homansky claiming Wise was fine, and the fight continued with Mosley having been
penalized 2 points. Mosley resumed his one sided attack, again leaving Willy on
stiff legs at the bell after a sizzling two punch combo to the chin discombobulated Wise.
Boxing Chronicle scored this round 8-8, having given Mosley a much deserved 10-8
for the unilateral and unanswered stream of punishment he dealt out prior to losing 2
points on the foul.
Mosley again attacked without hesitation in the third. While his handspeed was
astounding, and he landed most of his power punches, he was still wild. Mosley
slipped on one furious charge, and twice knocked down Wise with shots that might have been
called knockdowns had Shane not also bulled into Wise and sent him down from pushing.
Wise was offering zero resistance, and Mosley assailed his midsection with reckless
abandon, punishing Wise's body repeatedly. Finally, as the third came to an end,
Mosley fired another big left to the body. It landed at the exact same time that
Mosley's forehead accidentally slammed into Wise's face, and Wise fell to the canvas
Halpern did not see the headbutt, which had as much to do with the knockdown (if not more)
than the body shot, and waved the fight over without a count. Despite the reason for
Wise's collapse, ending the fight was necessary. In nine minutes, Wise had barely
even touched Mosley, who in return was dishing out a menacing beating. Had the fight
continued, Wise would have only taken
more unanswered bombs.
After the fight, Mosley (34-0/32) regained the broad smile that he had shown while
entering the ring. With this dominating win, Mosley's presence at welterweight
cannot be ignored. Weighing a fit 148 lbs. (154 through the ropes), Mosley showed
that he retains the speed and power that marked his tenure as lightweight champion.
Although his attacks are often too frantic, he nonetheless gets results. As
talk swirls about a potential June matchup with Oscar DeLaHoya, fight fans must simply
drool at the potential matchup. Oscar may hold distinct advantages in size and
big-fight experience, but he has never faced a fighter so willing to attack.
Mosley's handspeed and
aggression make this fight a much closer proposition than once thought.
With Trinidad and Quartey finally moving to 154, and a potential for both the IBF and WBC
titles to be declared vacant at 147, surely Mosley and Forrest are now clearly in the
middle of the title picture. Mosley's dominating win and broader name recognition
will lead him to the big money first, with Forrest not far behind as a dangerous opponent
for anyone in the division.