Mosley edges De La Hoya

Posted: Sunday, September 14, 2003

LAS VEGAS Shane Mosley's formula for beating Oscar De La Hoya goes something like this: Use speed, win the late rounds and hope the judges are kind.

It worked for Mosley three years ago, and it worked even better Saturday night.

Winning the last four rounds on all three scorecards, Mosley won a close but unanimous decision to beat De La Hoya for the second time and win the WBC and WBA 154-pound titles.

A contest that was either fighter's to win went to Mosley because he outworked a bloodied and tiring De La Hoya in the final rounds of a bout that was almost a carbon copy of the first fight they put on in June 2000.

The decision left De La Hoya outraged, while Mosley celebrated the rebirth of a career that stalled with two losses to Vernon Forrest.

''I thought I won by one or two rounds,'' Mosley said. ''He gave me a lot of movement. I knew I hurt him. He never hurt me.''

In a fight almost as close as the first one, Mosley was the busier and faster fighter, beating De La Hoya to the punch and staying away from the left hook De La Hoya used to knock out his last two opponents.

De La Hoya was leading on two scorecards and even on a third midway through the fight, but Mosley won the last five rounds on two cards and the last four on a third.

''It happened in the (Felix) Trinidad fight and it happened here,'' De La Hoya said. ''I thought I won the fight. I didn't even think it was close.''

All three judges did, though, scoring it 115-113 for Mosley, who won a split decision the first time the two met. The Associated Press had Mosley winning 116-113.

The fight meant far more to De La Hoya than a few gaudy belts. He vowed before the bout to retire if he lost again to Mosley.

''I love the sport. I love boxing. I love fighting like a warrior,'' he said. ''I'm not sure what will happen.''

Just like the first fight, Mosley was fresher and faster in the later rounds, while De La Hoya looked weary and tried to win rounds by fighting in flurries in the final seconds.

The fight before a sellout crowd of 16,268 at the MGM Grand hotel was billed as redemption for De La Hoya, who lost to Mosley when both were young amateurs and again when they met as pros.

But it turned more into vindication for Mosley, whose career hit the skids when he lost twice to Vernon Forrest and who hadn't won a fight in more than two years.

''I think it could warrant a third fight whenever he wants to do it,'' Mosley said.

De La Hoya wasn't so willing.

''No, he beat me twice,'' he said. ''That's it.''

Mosley was the aggressor throughout, though he pressed the action only in spurts. By the late rounds, though, he was putting on more pressure, and the fighters went toe-to-toe in a hotly paced final round before the bell rang and they hugged like two warriors who had given their all.

De La Hoya was guaranteed $17 million, though he agreed to pay Mosley $500,000 of that if he lost. By winning, Mosley pocketed $5 million.

The money, though, wasn't De La Hoya's biggest motivation. He desperately wanted to avenge one of only two defeats in a remarkable career in which he has won titles in five weight classes and earned some $150 million in the ring.

By the 12th round, that desperation seemed to show as De La Hoya came out and the two met in the center of the ring and threw punches almost nonstop for the first minute.

''We were never concerned in the corner,'' De La Hoya's trainer, Floyd Mayweather, said. ''We never even thought of losing. It never crossed our minds.''

There were questions about Mosley's power at 154 pounds, a weight he had gone only two full rounds at before. But he seemed to land the bigger punches and had a big ninth round where he rocked De La Hoya on several occasions.

''I felt such overwhelming power throughout the fight,'' Mosley said.

Punch stats showed De La Hoya landed 221 punches to 127 for Mosley, though most of Mosley's punches were power punches while De La Hoya's were jabs.

The partisan De La Hoya crowd packed the hotel arena looking for the fight of the year. De La Hoya was a 2-1 favorite, and he said he had found a way to negate Mosley's speed in the rematch.

The first few rounds were fought cautiously, but the tempo of the fight seemed to pick up after De La Hoya (39-3, 29 knockouts) was cut next to his right eye during a clash of heads early in the fourth round. By the end of the fifth round, the fighters were going at it toe-to-toe, much to the pleasure of the crowd.

''You let him steal that round,'' Mosley's father, Jack, told his son after the fifth round.

''No I didn't,'' Mosley replied.

De La Hoya was bleeding from the fourth round on from a cut next to his right eye caused by the head butt. But it never seemed to affect his vision in a fight that had no knockdowns.

Midway through, Jack Mosley was urging his son to press the action so De La Hoya couldn't win a close decision.

It proved to be wise fatherly advice.

''My father was trying to convey to me since we're in Las Vegas and it's Oscar's town we had to pour it on in the last rounds,'' Mosley said.

Mosley (39-2, 35 knockouts) did just that, pressing the action and dictating the tempo.

Mosley had been unhappy about his purse, threatening not to sign a contract until De La Hoya agreed to give him the extra $500,000 if he won. At the end of the fight he was that much richer, but money wasn't everything.

''I would have been heartbroken to lose in the ring after losing the negotiations outside the ring,'' Mosley said.

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