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Great welterweight kickoff to boxing in 2009!

First few weeks of 2009 have already produced worthy Fight of the Year, Fighter of the Year, and Upset of Year candidates!

Happy New Year boxing fans! It's been a while since I last posted an update for you, but we've witnessed two significant welterweight title fights in the past couple of weeks, so I would say an update is warranted.

Lets start with the WBC welterweight title fight between undefeated champion Andre Berto and challenger and former WBA champion Luis Collazo.

Andre Berto W12 Luis Collazo
Beau Rivage Resort & Casino, Biloxi, Mississippi
January 17, 2009

This was a mildly entertaining fight; a great fight to start off the new year. After Collazo's showing against Mosley back in February of 2007, I figured Berto would have his way with Collazo for the most part. I was pleased to see Collazo give such a spirited effort, as well as seeing Berto in a tough challenging fight for the first time in his career. Yes, for the first time, viewers saw Berto in a real fight - a fight in which his undefeated record was placed in serious jeopardy. Collazo staggered Berto in the first round with a straight left hand and had some success early, as he drew Berto into a fire fight and outworked him in the early going. In the middle rounds, Collazo seemed to stop throwing punches and Berto's punchout and accuracy increased, particularly in rounds six through eight.

The tide of the fight once again turned in round nine, as Collazo threw over 100 punches. Outworking and stunning Berto, Collazo once again resumed control of the seesaw battle that was ensuing. Berto showed championship heart by becoming more aggressive and outworking a fatigued Collazo in the final two rounds to seal the deal on the scorecards. Two of the judges scored the fight 114-113, while the third judge submitted a ridiculously wide score of 116-111 for Berto. Boxing Chronicles also scored the fight 114-113 for Berto, which is definitely a more accurate depiction of what happened in the bout.

For those who point to the unanimous decision in favor of Berto and label it a robbery, I would advise you to take into consideration that a fight which could've gone a point or two either way is no robbery. Collazo clearly outworked Berto in a few rounds, I would say mostly in rounds three, four, nine, and ten, with little shoe shine flurries to the body on the inside. Rounds six and and were rounds that HBO's unofficial ringside judge Harold Lederman [who scored the fight 115-112 for Collazo] gave to Collazo and Collazo did absolutely nothing in those rounds from my view point. Moving around the ring, sticking your chin out, and dropping your arms down to your waist for most of the round (the seventh) is not a point getter.

The rounds that Berto won, from what I could see, were huge. Collazo could have closed the fight stronger and sealed the deal in the last two rounds, but by the 11th round, Collazo was spent. Berto outworked him in those rounds, and certainly closed the show stronger than Collazo and even staggered him in the 12th round. I give Collazo a ton of credit for even making it that competitive and thrilling of a fight. I would not even mind seeing a rematch because I believe a lot of people are questioning the decision and this fight was mildly entertaining. This certainly was not an 8-4 fight for either combatant. To be honest with you ladies and gentlement, the fight could've gone either way by about a point and I'm not mad at the decision.

What I gathered from watching this fight, other than the fact that this year already has a worthy candidate for Fight of the Year honors, is that Mosley certainly outclassed Collazo moreso than either Berto and Hatton. Unfortunately Berto still has that leaky defense. He's suseptible to body shots as well as straight left hands from southpaws, or even straight right hands from conventional fighters for that matter. Berto's handlers should certainly consider moving him along very carefully. From what I have heard from some pretty reliable sources, an immediate rematch with Collazo is in order for Berto.

One of the ringside announcers during the telecast, I believe it was Max Kellerman, said that Berto is a lot like a young Meldrick Taylor. That was a very accurate comparison. Berto possesses really good handspeed, utilizes exceptional ring generalship, and could probably use those facets of his game to beat his opponents without having to take too many risks. But much like Taylor, the guy can be drawn into a fire fight and he will take unnecessary punishment on the inside when he does not have to. When Berto steps up to the elite level, against the likes of a Mosley, Cotto, or Williams, we may indeed see Berto on the losing end of some exciting fights resulting in brutal knockouts.
television: HBO Boxing After Dark

That brings us to WBA welterweight championship fight, one week later, at Staples Center. This fight, in many of the viewer's and expert's eyes, was for the universally recognized welterweight championship of the world. Furthermore, it was the first major upset of the year, as 4-1 underdog and former three division world champion Sugar Shane Mosley dominated and stopped defending champion Antonio Margarito.

Shane Mosley TKO9 Antonio Margarito
Staples Center; Los Angeles, CA
January 24, 2009

At 37 years of age, Shane Mosley proved that he could turn the clock back one more time in a significant fight on the big stage, as he outworked and outclassed a slow and lethargic Antonio Margarito en route to a 9th round TKO.

From the outset, Mosley attacked Margarito at close range and fired hard punches to Margarito's body. Not only did Mosley land telling shots to the body, but his jab was also on point when fighting from a distance. I felt the body punching was a vital key to victory for Mosley going into this fight. An old adage in boxing implies that a fighter who kills the body will also kill the head. Kill the body and the head will die. Cotto, who had as much success landing punches to Margarito's head and upper body, was not punching downstairs at all.

By the seventh round, the accumulative punishment that Mosley had delivered was beginning to tell on Margarito. Margarito's punch output was deceasing and Mosley was landing his overhand right with stunning regularity. In the eighth round, Margarito attempted to take Mosley out with a wild hay maker, missed horribly, and Mosley launched him across the ring with a brutal right hand that spelt the beginning of the end for the defending champion. Mosley proceeded to bully the wounded Mexican warrior on the ropes with fast flurries and scored a knockdown at the end of the round. Margarito barely made it to his feet, but was clearly dazed and looked worse than Cotto looked in the eleventh round of their fight last July.

Mosley continued to punish Margarito with flurries in the ninth round, when the referee mercifully jumped in and brought a halt to the bout. With the win, Mosley became the WBA welterweight champion of the world with an outstanding performance. The win over Margarito is probably the most monumental win for Mosley since he defeated Oscar De la hoya back in June of 2000 - also at the Staples Center.

I still do not understand how Margarito was being designated so quickly as the best welterweight in the world, head and shoulders above everyone else, when Williams was in fact still at the top of the division himself and still had the belt that he took from Margarito. Margarito never avenged his loss to Williams. I'm not saying that Margarito was trying to avoid Williams (not saying he wasn't either). I do think Arum was doing everything he could to keep Williams far away from him. Had Williams continued to campaign at 147lbs following his loss-avenging destruction of Quintana, instead of drifting around from 147lbs to 160lbs, he would have had as much of a claim to being the best fighter at welterweight as Margarito did. Margarito's dramatic come from behind stoppage of Cotto last summer was great; clearly the biggest win of his career in a fight that was an instant classic.

Other than that, Margarito won close decision over Joshua Clottey in December of 2006, knocked out Kermit Cintron twice, and practically decapitated Andre Sixheads Lewis in a two round blow out back in February of 2003. Those who disagree with my assessment would be quick to point out that Williams lost a close decision of his own to Carlos Quintana, but Williams also came back and destroyed Quintana in less than a round months later. That's more than Margarito did with Williams after he lost a close decision to him in July of 2007 .Upon Williams absence from the welterweight division, the title of world champion at 147lbs was determined last Saturday night when its top two contenders remaining - Antonio Margarito and Sugar Shane Mosley - fought for it. Mosley is now the Welterweight Champion of the World.

Following the contest, there was some controversy regarding the wrapping of Margarito's hands in the dressing room. Supposedly his gloves were loaded with hard plastic shells, What's difficult to determine is whether or not Margarito has assumed this pre-fight tactic in other fights throughout his career. Such dirty tactics are reminiscent of reminiscent of Panama Lewis's removal of the padding from his fighter Luis Resto's gloves prior to a 1983 bout against Billy Collins, Jr . If in fact Margarito has been fighting with loaded gloves throughout his career, it will cast a dark shadow on what has been perceived as a noteworthy career in boxing.
television: HBO World Championship Boxing