The CyberBoxingZone News

Chris Bushnell
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 box smart.

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 that seemed
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 again.

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.

.....Chris Bushnell


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