August 6, 2009

FROM THE ARCHIVES: NOW THAT'S A TRIO:

Sweet and Sour: The world’s best junior middleweights put on a remarkable exhibition of boxing, but not without controversy. Oscar De La Hoya cried foul, but for Sugar Shane Mosley there was vindication (Budd Schulberg, 9/21/03, Sunday Herald)

[T]hose watching on television had their vision of the fight coloured by the HBO ringside team, Larry Merchant, Jim Lampley and big George Foreman, who sounded more like a De La Hoya rooting section than objective commentators as they described a fight so different from what the official judges, and these eyes, seemed to be watching.

After four careful and technically interesting rounds, the action began to heat up in the fifth, which built to a furious exchange at the bell. The De La Hoya rooters were so loud it was hard to hear oneself think, but I gave the round to Mosley. De La Hoya might have been winning the Compustat totals but I felt the power in Mosley, and De La Hoya must have been feeling it too. Body punching is something of a lost art in modern boxing. It’s not as flashy as punches to the head, but it can prove more deadly. Body punches wear a fighter down and slow him up in the later rounds.

It was still intangible and De La Hoya seemed to be winning the fight. After six rounds, I had him leading four rounds to two, but his questionable stamina was about to be tested again. Slowly the tide was turning. Two of the three judges gave Mosley the last five rounds, and I had him winning five of the last six, hurting De La Hoya with so many fiercely-thrown left hooks that the partisan crowd grew eerily quiet and the underdog rooters began chanting MOS-LEY! MOS-LEY!

De La Hoya was able and willing but soooo tired. The unanimous decision, 115-113, in favour of the new, and now redeemed, champion put the Sugar back in Shane and struck this corner as exactly right. The pained silence of the disappointed throng seemed a reluctant agreement with the judges. But the HBO trio were outraged. They denounced the verdict as highway robbery. Foreman even went so far as to charge that it was a fix or conspiracy against promoter Bob Arum. By coincidence, I happened to come out from the arena with George, who is an old friend all the way back to Ali/Zaire days. He was surprised I had seen the fight so differently from him, and when boxing historian Bert Randolph Sugar chimed in on my behalf, he made a face and said: “Wow, if you two think Mosley won, maybe I went too far!”


If there was a more interesting spot on the planet at the moment Budd Schulberg, Bert Sugar, and George Foreman were occupying that one, we'd like to know where it was.


[originally posted: 9/21/03]

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 6, 2009 12:34 AM
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