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Classic Fight: Shane Mosley pummels Antonio Margarito after pre-fight scandal that only got worse after

It’s something of a legendary night, but not for many of the right reasons.

Scott Christ is the managing editor of Bad Left Hook and has been covering boxing for SB Nation since 2006.

“If they let Shane Mosley fight Antonio Margarito they should be arrested. Margarito would put Shane in a pine box.”

Those were the words of promoter Lou DiBella in Sept. 2008, just after an aging Shane Mosley looked flat most of the night in a win over Ricardo Mayorga, which came via stoppage with a single second left in the 12th and final round. Mosley was up on two cards, and should have been up. Mosley dominated in some rounds, enough to be ahead, but Mayorga was allowed to hang around in the fight because the 37-year-old Mosley just took his foot off the gas too often, doing nothing for stretches of time.

What’s more is that Mayorga was no good in the fight, complaining a lot, clinching a lot, never hurting Mosley despite power being his only real weapon.

DiBella was ready to match rising prospect Andre Berto, who won in the HBO co-feature over Steve Forbes, against Mosley. He conceded that the 25-year-old Berto remained a work in progress despite having been handed the WBC title, more or less, but he was that confident that Shane Mosley was past it, ready for the taking.

Mosley, though, did sign to fight Margarito, the imposing Mexican warrior who was coming off of a grueling and destructive win over Miguel Cotto in July, a 2008 Fight of the Year contender.

Margarito had taken the “0” from the Puerto Rican star, and Cotto had beaten Mosley prior to that, in Nov. 2007. There were style matchups that didn’t favor Margarito so much, but if you couldn’t find ways to hold off his relentless pressure, the big welterweight would just keep coming forward like the Terminator; he wasn’t fast, he wasn’t really a one-punch power guy, his technique and defense were lacking, but he was impossible to deter.

Margarito-Mosley headed to Los Angeles’ Staples Center in Jan. 2009, with Margarito the heavy favorite in another HBO main event. With a big crowd of over 20,000 in attendance for the popular Mexican Margarito and hometown hero Mosley, many expected that to be the end for Shane Mosley at the top level. But then the story developed.

Prior to the fight, Mosley’s trainer Naazim Richardson noticed something on the handwraps of Margarito. It was described as “wet pads” in the wrapping. The pads were taken and sent in to be investigated, but new wraps were applied and the fight went on.

To say that the 30-year-old Margarito was not himself would be an understatement. Shane Mosley beat the living crap out of Antonio Margarito that night. He completely dominated the fight, as Margarito looked feeble and unsure of himself. Mosley had no such problems. His confidence grew and grew. He was looking like the Shane Mosley of old again, lighting Margarito up in pretty much every round. He dropped the Mexican late in the eighth, and it could’ve ended there, but didn’t.

It did in the ninth, just 43 seconds into the round, as Mosley pounded on Margarito again. Margarito’s corner threw in the towel and referee Raul Caiz Sr jumped in to stop the fight.

Mosley would springboard from that inspiring performance into a fight with Floyd Mayweather in May 2010, having sat out over a year. He had his moment there, too, buckling Mayweather’s knees in the second round, but Floyd took over and won handily.

The end that DiBella and many had predicted had, in fact, arrived. He would fight on, going 3-4-1 the rest of the way and never having another true “Shane Mosley” night. But on that one January night in Los Angeles, Shane Mosley delayed the inevitable and got one mre run on top, taking the WBA welterweight title.

Margarito, too, was never the same. He wound up suspended by the California commission, who deemed that he personally had no knowledge of the wraps, but that as “captain” of his team, it fell on him as well as head trainer Javier Capetillo. The findings on the wraps confirmed that the substance was similar to plaster of Paris; this opened questions for all of Margarito’s prior career, but most notably his savage win over Miguel Cotto in 2007.

Margarito would return in the spring of 2010 himself, fighting in Mexico before getting to return in the States in Nov. 2010 to be thrashed and permanently injured by Manny Pacquiao. After 13 months on the sidelines, he rematched Cotto, who made a target of Margarito’s surgically repaired eye and dominated, putting Margarito away after nine rounds that the New York commission probably shouldn’t have sanctioned at all. Margarito did fight three more times, coming back to the ring in 2016, and he won those bouts in Mexico, but he hasn’t fought since Sept. 2017 and isn’t likely to do so again, as he’s now 42 years of age.

Mosley retired after a 2016 loss to David Avanesyan, and the 48-year-old was elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame this past December.

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