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Mosely/Rivera Fight Reports

Chris Bushnell

Shane Mosley’s 12 pound jump from lightweight to welterweight couldn’t have come at a better time. Fresh on the heals of DelaHoya’s underwhelming performance, and Trinidad’s controversial win, Mosley’s division debut handed him the opportunity to insert his name into the now muddled 147 lb. hierarchy. It was an opportunity Mosley did not waste.

Mosley was paired with the perfect opponent, Wilfredo Rivera. Rivera brought a name (with losses only to Whitaker and DelaHoya) and a reputation as a durable opponent. But he also brought weaknesses, including a light schedule and trouble making weight. An impressive victory would invite instant comparison to Rivera’s previous conquerors. Let the comparisons begin.

Mosley opened the first round looking for an early night’s work. Unleashing furious punches that bordered on wild, Mosley quickly snapped Rivera’s head with a short left hook and some clubbing right hands. Bursting with energy, Mosley pursued Rivera across the ring, punishing him along the way. So superior was Shane’s handspeed, that it seemed as though Rivera would be quickly overwhelmed. Yet, Rivera survived the round, and got in a few decent shots of his own.

Sugar Shane Mosley was still looking for the knockout when the second round began, and in doing so allowed Rivera back into the fight. Loading up with one-at-a-time bombs, Mosley found his target, but was allowing a busy Rivera to set the pace in between attempts. Wilfredo landed cleanly on Mosley, quickly answering the question of how Mosley would handle welterweight power. It became clear that this would not be a short night, and the fight was on.

Mosley’s combinations began warming up in the third. Again bunching his punches, Mosley now dug his first trademark body shots. The crowd roared it’s approval at not only Mosley’s effectiveness, but the overt manner in which Mosley would reach back, load up, and contort his face into a mask of extreme commitment as he would swing every ounce of energy into his biggest punches. Rivera deserves credit for being able to absorb these blows and continue fighting.

Mosley continued his assault into the fourth, wickedly mixing up his punches. Stiff jabs, short and overhand right hands, left hooks up coupled with left hooks down...Mosley showed it all. So fierce was his determination that the inevitable fatigue began to set in. Changing up things, Mosley shifted gears in the second half of this frame, allowing Rivera to lead, and then picking him apart with speedy counter punches.

Although Mosley’s move to 147 absolves him of the weakness that making 135 provided, he now has an equally challenging problem to cope with: the fatigue that comes from carrying more weight. In the fifth and sixth rounds, that fatigue began to catch up to Mosley, and a slower fight favored Rivera. As Mosley’s output decreased, Rivera’s increased. Although not as effective, Rivera’s activity scored him points in between an increasing number of tie ups. As the two men wrestled mid-ring, Mosley was taking a breather and allowing Rivera to steal rounds on activity.

The sixth and seventh rounds were only slightly different. Shane Mosley began each round by charging Rivera and launching massive right hands that landed flush and awakened in Mosley the energy to follow up with a blinding flurry. But each flurry seemed to sap Mosley of stamina, and in the final two minutes of each round his output was reduced to near nothing. Rivera also stole away these rounds by continuing to throw, and land, punches. While he never hurt Mosley, Rivera was nonetheless putting together his game and raising some serious questions about Shane. Mosley’s mouth was open and he desperately needed a breather in both rounds. And now, with the fight too close to call, Mosley needed the final two rounds to ensure victory.

The ninth round saw Mosley’s offense once again revived. While Rivera fired back in some good exchanges, it was Mosley’s commitment to landing the harder shot that was getting him by. As both men seemed willing to take a punch to land one, the excitement built. Then, with seconds to go in the round, Mosley planted his feet and fired a gigantic left hook that slammed into the side of Rivera’s head. Before the crowd could make it to it’s feet, Mosley had begun swinging his entire body in the opposite direction and hit Rivera with an equally devastating right hand. In the blink of an eye, Mosley repeated this twice, totaling six cleanly landed roundhouse punches to close the round. It was a round Mosley needed, as Boxing had the fight at 76-76 leading into the ninth.

Still, the fight was too close to bank on. Although Mosley had been the stronger puncher all night, and despite the fact that he was the hometown fighter, Jack Mosley implored his son to go out an leave no doubt in the tenth and final round. Mosley followed instructions to a tee.

Fighting like a champion on the verge of losing his title, Mosley jumped on Rivera like a man possessed. Reaching back and firing one deadly punch after another, Mosley swarmed his opponent without respite. Upstairs and down, Mosley unloaded his entire arsenal on Rivera, beating him pillar to post. If this had been a close fight so far, it now looked like anything but. Like a true champion, Shane Mosley was intent on using whatever he had left to win the fight.

At first, Rivera seemed to be able to weather the storm. But when Mosley’s onslaught did not cease, he weakened. Unable to stop the incoming, Rivera staggered around the ring, until finally a left uppercut/hook from Mosley with 30 seconds to go put him down on the mat. Like so many previous Mosley victims, the knockdown was not the result of one stunning punch, but an accumulation of punishment.

Rivera fell onto his back, looking exhausted and beaten. He tried in vain to make it to all fours and begin his ascent, but he could not even muster that. Referee Robert Byrd needed to only reach the count of four before realizing that Rivera could not continue and called off the bout. Shane Mosley KO10. It was the first time Rivera had ever been beaten down, as DelaHoya’s TKO victory over him was the result of cuts.

Shane Mosley’s knockout improved upon one of the most sterling records in boxing today: 33-0/31KO. At welterweight, Mosley proved that he retains his handspeed, power, and ability. What’s more, Mosley also now has a very clear picture of what he needs to improve on: his stamina at full welterweight, his bodypunching (which was mostly absent tonight), and his consistency. Given how hard he worked in the ring tonight, there is little doubt that Mosley will work equally hard out of the ring to round out his game.

One of the biggest questions surrounding this fight dealt with Mosley’s ability to bring his power up with him from 135 to 147. Although Mosley still lacks the highlight-reel ability to starch a man with one single punch like DelaHoya and Trinidad, it is hardly a weakness. Using perfect form to deliver his power shots, Mosley is clearly a devastating puncher. But his power has come, and will continue to come, with a style of sustained punishment. Upstairs and down, to the left and right side, Mosley once again hit his opponent everywhere, wearing him down and administering a complete beating. Although Rivera lasted 10 rounds, he received the most thorough punishment of his career. His body was a mosaic of bruises and abrasions, and he will likely spend the next week in bed.

Make no mistake: Shane Mosley brought the power with him folks, and the rest of the division should watch out.

.....Chris Bushnell

September 26, 1999

Sugar Shane Steps-Up In Class
By Francis Walker

Last Saturday, former undefeated world lightweight champion, "Sugar" Shane Mosley (33-0, 31KOs), made his ring debut as a welterweight. Mosley, who certainly not as fast as before, made it clear that he still has the power to take anyone out. Mosley did just that, as he knocked out a very game and tough Wilfredo Rivera (30-4-1, 19KOs) 2:58 seconds of the tenth and final round.

The bout, promoted by Cedric Kushner Promotions, was televised on HBO's "World Championship Boxing."

Mosley, who won the International Boxing Federation 135-pound crown from Phillip Holiday in August 1997, defended the crown eight times before vacating the title in April of this year. Undefeated in world championship bouts (9-0, 8KOs), Mosley seeks greater challenges for a greater reward. Two things Mosley probably would not have gotten since fighers like Ivan Robinson, Angel Manfredy, Arturo Gatti, Migel Angel Gonzalez, Kostya Tszyu, and WBC lightweight champ, Stevie Johnston were unable to fight Shane.

A move to 140 would have been a huge step-up in class. However, the problem their is that the quality opponents at that weight, Sharmba Mitchell, Terron Millett, and Randall Bailey are promoted by Don King. Zab Judah, a product of the Duva family, is currently a mandatory challenger for one of the three champions at 140.

For Mosley, the risk would not have come close to match the financial gains. I am speaking in terms of making money - Trying to make the most amount of money by finding the best names in memorable, marque fights.

Nonetheless, at 147 the biggest names in boxing are alive and well. Newly crowned WBC & IBF 147 pound champ, Felix Trinidad, WBA counterpart, James Page, former WBA kingpin, Ike Quartey, and four-division titlist, Oscar De La Hoya are fighting the top fighters and earning top-dollar.

With the rewards obviously just as big as its risk, why should Shane not move up 12 pounds to meet these bigger, stronger foes?

Mosley, whose speed, punching-power, counter-punching, and dazzling footwork was simply too much for those at 135, received a big surprise when he fought Rivera.

In the opening round, Mosley tried to take Rivera out landing ferocious power-shots with both hands. Since Rivera was a lot bigger and stronger (naturally) than the guys Mosley has faced at 135, was able to shake-off Mosley's attack. Mosley was not use to having an opponent stand in the middle of the ring going "toe-to-toe" with him.

There were times when Mosley appeared sluggish as he just let his arms fly all about, as Rivera absorbed the punishment.

In the ladder rounds Mosley, unlike De La Hoya-Trinidad, closed the show in style. Mosley, who landed nothing but big shots the entire fight, knocked Rivera out in the tenth round on a single left-hook.

Mosley showed very well, as his fundamentals were clearly too much for Rivera, whose three losses were to Pernell Whitaker (W 12, W 12) and De La Hoya (TKO 8).

Mosley will pursue the other big names at 147. But first he has some things to work on (consistant bodyattack, left jabs, and infighting). Overall, it was a good performance for Mosley, but the road is guaranteed to get a lot bumpier as the little good man is competing in a world of great big men.

Francis Walker

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