Live Saturday night from the Mandalay Bay Resort Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, and brought to you by Golden Boy Promotions, Main Events and HBO PPV, Fernando Vargas meets Shane Mosley in a junior middleweight bout for no title or discernible reason. Both men, although past their primes, still possess some marquee value, but this is a fight that might have had meaning years ago; now it means what it means. This is how The Sweet Science writers see it.
Recently, HBO replayed some of Mosley and Vargas' earlier fights – Vargas against Bazooka and Mosley against Oscar, and it's amazing how different Vargas and Mosley look now. Vargas used to fight going backward, taking little steps as he whipped lefts and rights at his target. The same goes for Mosley. These guys were great boxer-punchers who were so patient and expert, it's sad to watch them now. Vargas' reflexes are really gone. He looks as hesitant as Michael Grant was after Lennox destroyed him: unsure of himself, mentally and physically worn out. The same goes for Mosley. Both follow their opponents around the ring now, struggling to figure out how to win. Now that they're fighting each other, I expect Mosley to figure out Vargas first. Actually, I think Shane is going to take one look at Vargas and then jump on him when he realizes he has a dead in front of him. Mosley TKO 5.
Over the last two years, Mosley and Vargas have often been punching contradictions. One minute they look good, seemingly on the verge of reclaiming their championship form, and the next they are struggling to beat the David Estradas and Raymond Jovals of the world. Which makes this a tough call. But, it appears as though, physically, Mosley still has the speed and quickness that marked his prime. For “Sugar Shane”, it seems to be a question of confidence – confidence that was ripped away by Vernon Forrest four years ago. Mosley hasn't really taken a beating, except maybe that first Forrest fight. Vargas has, and his decline may be more a result of cumulative physical damage. He has absorbed the best punches from the best punchers of his generation – Felix Trinidad and Oscar De La Hoya. After those two wars, it would be difficult for anybody to rebound. Based on that, you've got to give the edge to Mosley. But Vargas will be there every step of the way, which should make this a good scrap between two former stars – one slightly more faded than the other – in the vein of Hearns-Leonard 2. Mosley by split decision.
Fernando Vargas left a bitter taste in the mouth of spectators. He's been conservative. Sluggish almost describes it. The boos he received from the Allstate Arena crowd in
Chicago after beating Javier Castillejo were overwhelming, which was evident in Vargas press conference afterward. He blamed the performance on struggling to make weight. Well, that is part of the job, albeit it a difficult task. Something tells me Vargas is going to be in shape for Mosley. That may be wishful thinking on my part, but it's a gut feeling that Vargas will earn the decision … Come on, it's a Jesse Cox gut decision, when has that ever been wrong?
Jesse K. Cox
Vargas had to come too far down in weight and it shows. He looks like Popeye's girlfriend, Olive Oyl. He might start strong, but I expect him to fade. Mosley will probably have a nice meal just before weighing in. If he gets past the first few rounds, he wins by decision.
HBO will rebroadcast the Mosley-Vargas fight next Sat., March 4, as part of the live Cotto-Branco show. That is their plan to compete with the more important live card on Showtime that same night, headlined by Lacy-Calzaghe. But Showtime will win that fight as well, at least in terms of providing a meaningful and quality show.
Look for the conditioning and hand speed of Shane Mosley to come through in the later rounds – and there will be later rounds! – as he takes a decision from Fernando Vargas.
In a strange way this fight might be decided by will, the application of dedicated intent to see a fight plan to conclusion. One can argue that there's a bit of Ali-Frazier III about Vargas-Mosley happening in 2006. Three years ago this fight would have been between two fighters struggling mentally and physically. They are great fighters diminished, each seeking retribution for lost time, in a sense, fighters still capable of the belief that they are elite fighters awaiting a comprehensive return of form. That kind of self-assertion often translates into higher than expected performance levels, especially when both fighters are at the same level, or very close to it. How long can Mosley box with disciplined speed? And can Vargas bring his combination hitting rate up to something like his best? If each brings about 80% of their best, there again, we have parity. The guy who wears down mentally first will find himself under the gun and each of them understands that. They may not talk openly about it, but they do understand that keeping it together mentally will go a long way to securing enough rounds to win over the 12. I find it hard to picture a short fight in this one. Look for it to go 12, with the last 4 rounds telling the tale. If it does end before 12, it will be stopped by the referee in the 9th, 10th or 11th.
Reports were circulating that Vargas tipped the Holy Toledos! at 200 pounds around the holidays and then a full two weeks before the fight was down to the 154-pound limit. For a guy who always had trouble making weight I don't remember seeing Vargas so light, so early, as a good sign. He may have left his best fight in the gym and if he is a half step behind Shane it will be a long night. Too bad this bout wasn't made 5+ years ago, but it is still an interesting battle at this stage, although for different reasons. Mosley likely will be more comfortable at 154 than Vargas and I think El Feroz is longer in the tooth ring-wise due to his layoffs and injuries. It has been 8 fights and 4 years since we saw Mosley knock anyone out as his “power boxing” was much more productive at the lower weights. Remember though, Sugar Shane, although no longer sweet, has only lost to two fighters (Wright and Forrest twice each) and has fought better opposition. I don't think Vargas can implement the strategy that those two used, not at this point in his career, and Mosley will come on later in the fight to take the late rounds and win.
Vargas always has trouble with the big guns. Whether or not Mosley could still be construed as a big gun is open to conjecture. Both have a lot to prove. Mosley will prove that he's still a viable entity by beating Vargas in a tough close fight. Mosley by decision.
No major titles are at stake, but careers definitely at stake as Vargas and Mosley face-off in a battle of former champions who've seemingly passed their prime. Vargas seems the bigger question mark with his weight issues and inactiveness over the past couple years, but he'll be fighting to save a once golden career so the desperation should be there.
Mosley can no longer sustain his place in boxing by living off the old glory of beating Oscar years ago. After losing decisively to both Forrest and Wright twice, Mosley's on the verge of slipping out of the sport if he loses to Vargas. So this is a big fight in its own right and it'll be interesting to see who the sharper and more desperate fighter will be. My guess is that Sugar Shane will rise to the occasion and beat Vargas in a decision. He still has speed and can move pretty well so I don't see an older Vargas who has slowed considerably and hasn't fought a quality fighter like Mosley in years catching up to him and doing any major damage. One thing's for sure as long as there's a clear winner…one fighter's career will be damaged considerably.
I know this fight has been anticipated for years, but it is really hard to get excited about two fighters who have not looked impressive since 2001. It is even harder to justify paying $44.95 to watch them duke it out. All hype aside, Fernando Vargas is younger, bigger, stronger, and much more natural at junior middleweight than Shane Mosley. If he can put together a complete fight, Vargas should have no trouble coming away with a decision. Vargas by unanimous decision.
Both these cats are of the age and/or have sustained such wear and tear that I have but one wish for this fight: that no one is harmed irreparably. Must be gettin' too soft for this duty…..That aside, Mosley doesn't have the pop to worry Feroz that much. Fernando should be able to do much of what he wants to Shane, and overpower him as the rounds tick away. Vargas comes away with a unanimous decision, and is again a player in several divisions.