Sunday September 28th, 2008

SI.com boxing writer Chris Mannix brings you blow-by-blow, round-by-round thoughts on the junior middleweight, non-title clash between "Sugar" Shane Mosley and Ricardo Mayorga. The fight should begin sometime before midnight (EST).

11:48 p.m. -- OK, before we start blogging Shane Mosley-Ricardo Mayorga, a pivotal fight between a savvy old guy with a future and a crass old guy with none, I have to say this: I am a huge fan of Andre Berto.

I first met Berto a few years ago at a press conference at Gallagher's steak house in New York, when the baby-faced welterweight was passing out DVDs of his greatest hits to members of the media. Back then, Berto was a young prospect with knockout power but with no resume to speak of. His early knockouts had come against the likes of immortals Anthony Little and Toranze Washington.

In other words, I wasn't all that impressed.

I am now. No, Berto's win over Stevie Forbes (his 23rd victory and the first 12-round decision of his career) is not a headline-maker and I understand the WBC champion still needs to fight a legitimate top-10 opponent. But this kid has all the tools. He has Mayweather-esque hand speed, knockout power and an improving defense. He is a legitimate powerhouse in the making.

Clearly Berto has work to do before he can take on the big dogs (Antonio Margarito, Paul Williams) in the welterweight division. I'd like to see him step up and fight a Luis Collazo/Carlos Quintana type. But if Berto is as impressive against one of them as he was Saturday night against Forbes, a welterweight unification fight late in 2009 needs to happen.

Now, to the main event!

11:50 p.m. -- Ricardo Mayorga gained 16 pounds in the 24 hours since the weigh-in on Friday. This guy has no chance. No chance.

11:51 p.m. -- The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Mayorga is still a heavy smoker. I take it back. Mayorga has less than no chance.

11:53 p.m. -- By the way, I actually gave Forbes a shot at winning the last fight. Shows what I know.

11:55 p.m. -- Ring announcer Michael Buffer lets the "Let's get ready to rumble" fly. Thank God. Earlier tonight, he urged to crowd to "get this party started". I sense a mid-life crisis.

11:56 p.m. -- Mosley is in absurdly good shape. This fight might end earlier than the seventh round, as I predicted.

11:57 p.m. -- Blog favorite Cheapo Tony checks in, wondering how a boxer can survive smoking a pack of cigarettes a day. Answer: he can't.

Round 1 -- Mayorga comes out swinging wildly. Ironically the first cheap shot comes from Mosley when he pops Mayorga in the back with a couple of shots. Even more bizarre -- Mayorga's wild style is proving effective! He briefly buckles Mosley with a right hand lead that is followed by a combination. Mosley not hurt ... but not effective, either. 10-9 MAYORGA

Round 2 -- The size disparity in the ring is enormous. Mayorga looks like a cruiserweight. Mosley rocks Mayorga with a headbutt, giving him a 2-0 advantage in cheap shots. In related news, hell has frozen over. Mosley seems content to let Mayorga punch himself out early, and Mayorga looks to be fatigued after about 240 seconds of work. Wild swings by Mayorga can't connect, but Mosley is not interested in countering. Quick right hand by Mosley near the bell ... might have won the round. 10-9 MAYORGA

Round 3 -- Mosley won't punch. It's like his hands are stuck in quicksand. Mayorga bull-rushes Mosley and nearly tackles him to the canvas. Mayorga backs Mosley up again! His punches seem to have no rhyme or reason but Mosley is terrified of them. Mayorga ties Mosley up before he can snap off any combinations. Wild combination by Mayorga! Mosley is totally out of rhythm. Bad round for Mosley. 10-9 MAYORGA

12:09 a.m. -- An aside: I slap around fighters who competed on The Contender all the time -- mostly because I think they can't fight -- but has anyone capitalized on his modicum of fame more than Forbes? The guy was the runner-up in the 2006 tournament, and he cashed in this year with a lucrative fight against Oscar de la Hoya and a title fight against Berto. Talk about an opportunist.

12:10 a.m. -- Cheapo Tony thinks Mayorga can only win on a lucky shot. In case anyone wants to take the advice of a guy who thinks soccer is cool.

Round 4 -- Good early shots by Mosley, who rocks Mayorga back. Mosley is timing Mayorga, who keeps rushing in but is now getting caught with stinging jabs before he gets there. Not a lot of action this round, but Mosley landed the cleaner shots. First round for Mosley. 10-9 MOSLEY

Round 5 -- Mosley's jab is starting to become an effective weapon. Mayorga is still stalking him across the ring, but Mosley is able to snap off effective shots while backpedaling. Hard right by Mosley! Mayorga is going to walk right into a huge shot soon. Good body shot staggers Mayorga. OK, Mayorga is claiming another cheap shot. That's like A.J. Pierzynski calling someone a poor sport. Good round for Sugar Shane. 10-9 MOSLEY

Round 6 -- Mosley is dictating the tempo now. Hard combinations rock Mayorga! He's dazed! Mayorga's punches have no pop behind them . And he's complaining again. Seriously? Is this guys going to quit? Hard combinations by Mosley! Mayorga is just leading with his chin. No head movement, no hand defense. He's just absorbing them. More combinations! Easy round for Mosley. 10-9 MOSLEY

12:20 a.m. -- Aside, part II: when a fighter takes a series of hard shots then bobs his head and pretends it didn't hurt...it did. Every time.

Round 7 -- Mayorga is now saying the canvas is wet. Pretty soon the ropes are going to be too tight. Mosley is moving great now, circling Mayorga and pot-shotting him. Mayorga battles on the inside with marginal effect. The action slows as Mayorga goes for the tie-ups. Hard right from Mosley! Mayorga hangs in there. Tough round to call as Mayorga rallies with combinations in the final minute. 10-9 MAYORGA

Round 8 -- Mosley opens the round with a buckling left hook to Mayorga's chin. Mayorga keeps chasing Mosley and falling on him. Still waiting on a vintage Mosley combination. Chopping rights from Mayorga, I can't believe it but Mayorga may be winning this fight. 10-9 MAYORGA

Round 9 -- Mayorga is dancing around the ring like a conquering hero. He knows this fight is 12 rounds, not eight, right? Mosley snaps off a series of solid jabs. Mayorga claims a low blow. I'm speechless. Wild combinations by Mayorga. Is Mosley really this afraid of his power? Mayorga looks exhausted, he is really only good for the first minute of rounds now. Mosley connects with a crisp right. Bell sounds, Mayorga celebrates. Three more rounds, Ricky. 10-9 MOSLEY

Round 10 -- This is not the Mosley I saw battle Miguel Cotto. He's just not fast enough. Quick combination by Mosley connects. Mayorga keeps tying him up. Mayorga keeps looking to his corner during tie ups. Maybe they will tell him to fight. A charging Mayorga bulls Mosley over. No knockdown. Just a dumb tactic. 10-9 MOSLEY

Round 11 -- Mayorga charges Mosley again, throwing one power shot and tying him up. This is the overriding theme of this fight. Mayorga may not be winning, but he is preventing Mosley from boxing. Mayorga charges in head first. Another grappling match. Mayorga is brutal to watch. He's not fast enough and hoping to score with feeble shots on the inside. Two terrific rights by Mosley, after which Mayorga celebrates. And celebrates again. I have no idea what he's happy about. 10-9 MOSLEY

12:40 a.m. -- Keep this in mind: Don King-promoted fights have ended with funny judging before ...

Round 12 --Mayorga flurries but can't connect. He's merely tapping at Mosley's side. Celebrates again! Unbelievable! Solid 1-2 by Mosley forces Mayorga to tie up again. Mosley looks angry. I would be too. Big right by Mosley! Mayorga briefly hurt but recovers. Combinations by Mosley! Crowd is into it! Down goes Mayorga! Down goes Mayorga again! It's over! Literally a last-second knockout! Unbelievable!

12:45 a.m. -- I have never, ever seen a knockout that late. With literally a couple of seconds left in the final round, Mosley connects with a vicious left hook that crumples Mayorga to the canvas.

12:46 a.m. -- Official KO time: 2:59. Incredible!

12:48 a.m. -- In a little under three minutes, Shane Mosley went from a frustrated fighter worried about his future to a KO winner who now has a clear path to Paul Williams, Miguel Cotto or Antonio Margarito.

12:49 a.m. -- See you at the next fight. The Boxing Blog signing off.

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