2009 Kick-Off

This weekend, Los Angeles and the Staples Center will play host to this year’s first big time fight as ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley takes on Antonio Margarito for Margarito’s share of the Welterweight Title. It will be Margarito’s first fight since his scintillating 11th round TKO win over previously unbeaten Miguel Cotto in July of last year. Mosley also comes off a late round TKO victory. His was a 12th round last second stoppage of Ricardo Mayorga in September of last year.

There was a tremendous contrast in Margarito’s win compared to that of Mosley’s. Cotto is a much more respected opponent than Mayorga, a much better fighter than Mayorga and also at a much more competitive point of his career than Mayorga as, clearly, Ricardo is on the down side of his career. As for Margarito, he’s in his prime right now and that most likely will be the difference Saturday night as Mosley is, in my opinion, clearly past his prime.

Having said that this will not be a fight like we saw with Oscar De La Hoya and Manny Pacquiao as Shane always lays it on the line where as Oscar did not. Shane Mosley will attempt to fight through being a bit worn as a fighter, and that along with Mosley’s excellent boxing skills, grit and pride will make the fight a good one at least early on, I feel. In fact, it could look similar to what we saw with Margarito against Cotto. Remember Cotto was very lively early in the fight and built up a nice lead heading into the second half of the fight before finally being broken down to the point where he could not survive to the end and basically quit rather than continue to take punishment for another round and a half. Even if the same scenario does take place Mosley will not quit, he will have to be totally stopped, which has never been done and will be difficult to do to him give his experience. Should be a good fight and could possibly be the last for Sugar Shane.

On to a few pugilistic notes:

The biggest fight of the first half of this year is supposed to be, or was supposed to be May 2 here in Las Vegas with Manny Pacquiao taking on Ricky Hatton. Apparently the fight has imploded due to Manny’s demands of a 60-40 split in his favor regarding the money. If this is the case, it would be a shame for both fighters, the sport of boxing and all fight fans. Although I agree Manny may be a slight favorite going into a fight with Hatton and he is coming off a huge win over a shopworn Oscar De La Hoya, Hatton is also a big time draw with his die hard fans from the U.K. Hatton is also a more than one time Champion coming off a very solid stoppage of Paulie Malignaggi, and the Hit Man, in my opinion, really does deserve a 50/50 split and certainly no worse than a 55/45 take in this fight. Bottom line is unless Floyd Mayweather is coming out of retirement, than Pac Man needs Hatton to make the mega dollars, and by the way Manny needs to know that if Floyd does come out of his sabbatical, he will no way be on the low end of a financial arrangement with Pacquiao. In fact Floyd who is still unbeaten would most likely demand the lion’s share of the cash. Manny and Ricky need to make this fight happen sooner than later and I believe ultimately they will. We certainly hope so.

Former Light Heavyweight Champion Jose Torres has passed away at age 72. Torres won the Junior Middleweight Olympic Silver Medal for the U.S. in 1956 games at Melbourne Olympics and then went on to become World Light Heavyweight Champion in 1965. Torres finished his career with a record of 41-3-1 (29 KO’s). He was elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1997. Upon retirement, Torres was a New York State Boxing Commissioner and a pretty damn good writer who authored books on Muhammad Ali, “Sting Like A Bee: The Muhammad Ali Story” in 1971, and Mike Tyson, “Fire and Fear: The Inside Story of Mike Tyson” in 1989. Torres, who was a native of Puerto Rico, was trained by the legendary Cus D’Amato. An interested tidbit is that he actually received his first boxing paycheck of $40 for sparring with Sugar Ray Robinson back in 1957. I had the pleasure of spending some quality time with Torres over the years having had him as a guest many times of my radio shows, interviewing him on TV and having dinner with him a few times. He was a class act. May he rest in peace.

Before I exit here, let me mention how proud I was to watch Barack Obama Inaugurated as the 44th President of the United States on Tuesday. I have mentioned before that having Bi-Racial children of my own really brings a special meaning to me and them, proving that all things are possible and dreams can really come true in America.

One of the most moving moments of the ceremony for me came when I glanced up above to the left of my TV in my living room of my home here in Las Vegas where I have a blown up photo of me as a kid with Muhammad Ali. As I looked at the picture and glanced at the ceremonies about an hour prior to President Obama being inducted I wondered out loud. “Wow I wonder where Muhammad is right now” Right as if on cue, I glanced back down at the TV and saw a quick shot of Ali and his wife Lonnie being ushered to their seats at the Inauguration. I was very happy to witness that and I know Ali was very, very happy to bear witness to the history of Tuesday’s events just three days after his 67th Birthday. Included is that picture I mentioned and a few other shots of Ali and myself back in 1971 in Miami, just a few weeks prior to his classic first showdown with Smokin’ Joe Frazier. Hope you enjoy them. Until next time fight fans keep your hands up and chin down.

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