Vargas Is in Denail, Mosely Remains Sweet and Lampley Was Missed

By Elissa Harrison
Updated: March 1, 2006

MIAMI–When first announced, the Vargas-Mosley battle didn’t garner a lot of support, in fact I remember major rumbling criticizing the match up of these two fighters. As fight date got closer, and the respective public relations machines went about doing what they do best, the mood changed from why bother to have these two fight each other, to why should the public pay to watch a duel between two seemingly washed up fighters. As we got closer to fight night though, interest had been generated, and now the question was, at the end of the night, who will be left standing?

Leading up to the fight we saw a seemingly fit Fernando Vargas come in at below the 154 lbs. junior middleweight contracted weight. Vargas was so sure of himself -or so foolish- that he publicly challenged his opponent to a $100,000 side bet, the pot going to whichever man scored the knockout. A seemingly put on the spot Mosley accepted the challenge, and we all looked forward to fight night, hoping to get decisive answers on whether Vargas was all talk and whether Mosley could still walk the walk.

Vargas stepped in the ring almost a super middleweight, an indication that he had not made weight as easily as he had claimed. From the opening bell he used his size and weight as a weapon against Mosley, leaning on him, coming in with his head, and overall trying to wear out the smaller Shane.

Mosley seemed tentative in the early seconds of round one, but gathered himself quite nicely and by the end of the round had demonstrated his superior boxing ability. And so it went, with Shane moving, throwing and connecting beautiful combinations, using his speed to frustrate Vargas who never really got off as he had been able to do in the past against the likes of Oscar de la Hoya and Tito Trinidad. Shane Mosley owned the first two rounds.

Come round 3 and Vargas begins to mount somewhat of an offense. He rallies within the last 30 seconds of the round, and this is so far his best round in the fight.

Round 4 offered more of the same and Fernando might have stolen the round with late activity. However, as the round ends we noticed Vargas’ left eye was badly swollen, courtesy of a Mosley right hand in the opening round.

Round 5 was a good round for both fighters, they traded leather nicely, but it was evident that neither man had the punching power they had once exhibited. I gave this round to Fernando.

Round 6 was a solid round for Mosley, who displayed great hand speed, and showed glimpses of his former self, sans the power.

Round 7 was a good round for Vargas, who continued to throw his weight at Mosley, roughhousing, trying to tire him out. Vargas’ left eye looks grotesque and it’s almost completely closed. While this round could go to either man, it is becoming very clear that the fight can’t possibly go on much longer.

Rounds 8 and 9 belonged to Mosley, who pressed on his attack, sticking and moving, frustrating Fernando, who due to the swelling in his left eye was having a problem ducking Shane’s right hand. Mosley rocked steady in these two rounds, displaying the speed that had been his trademark, and it was great to watch him picking Vargas apart.

Vargas’ eye was completely shut and the swelling had now spread to his forehead, cheek and even the area around his ear. In between rounds Dr. David Watson was seen examining Vargas’ eyelid, which he tried to open to look inside his eye. While I am not a physician, I do believe that Vargas’ eye should have been checked before it closed shut, because once that happens it’s impossible to tell whether the fighter may have suffered a detached retina, an orbital fracture or he plain just can’t see, the things needed to make a determination on whether the fight should be stopped or allowed to continue.

It was rather odd to see the Dr. Watson asking NSAC Executive Director Marc Ratner, who is not a physician, whether the fight should continue or not. “If he can’t defend himself from the right hand, we have to stop the fight,” said Ratner to Dr. Watson. I guess there is such a thing as on the job training out there in Nevada…

By the way, upon further investigation we learned that Dr. Capanna, a neurosurgeon who has been a ring physician for two decades was available ringside, but his expertise was not solicited. However, and this is a frightening thought, Dr. Watson, who has only been a ring physician for four years, and who had never been in charge of a major fight before last night, is the Commission’s chief doctor.

Nevada has lost a lot of credibility, and I am neither afraid nor embarrassed to say that the expertise and integrity Dr. Margaret Goodman and Dr. Flip Homansky brought to the NSAC are sorely missed, and badly needed.

The fight went on despite the fact that we had a one eyed, defenseless fighter in the ring; and when Mosley began to tee off Vargas’ head, veteran referee Joe Cortez mercifully pulled the trigger, 1:22 into round ten.

Most ringside reporters had Vargas losing at the time of the stoppage, but one judge, Patricia Morse Jarman, had him winning by a point, 86-85. Mosley was ahead on the scorecards of Paul Smith and Chuck Giampa by scores of 86-85.

Final thoughts regarding the Mosley-Vargas fight and its undercard…

1) It was a good fight, competitive and entertaining for the most part. Was it pay per view material? No, it was not and never should have been. Vargas vs Tito, Vargas vs de la Hoya and Mosley vs de la Hoya, those were worthy pay per views; Vargas vs Mosley was not pay per view material. (The undercard was weak as well)…

2) HBO commentator Jim Lampley was missed. Lampley was on his way back from Turino, Italy, where he did a magnificent job of co-anchoring the Winter Olympics for NBC. Emanuel Steward was outright critical of Vargas’ corner, (Danny Smith is the head trainer), for not urging their man on, for their lack of intensity in relaying to Vargas that he needed to bring it on or risk having the fight stopped due to the condition of his left eye. Manny was quite correct in his assessment.

James Brown didn’t do it for me, he doesn’t have Lampley’s smoothness or finesse, and his physical presence was overpowering. Perhaps Harold Lederman could have substituted for Lampley? It certainly would have been more entertaining. HBO, are you listening?

3) Fernando Vargas is in denial. I couldn’t help but remember don Felix Trinidad’s words, who told me years ago that Vargas’ handlers should have never put him in against Tito, and how by doing so they had ruined a great fighter. His words still ring in my ears, and it’s hard to argue against the logic of his statement. Vargas is a shot fighter, courtesy of the brutal beatings he suffered at the hands of Tito Trinidad and Oscar de la Hoya.

Bravado, machismo, whatever you want to call it, may sound good, but it’s embarrassing when you can’t live up to it. Fernando Vargas has given the sport some great fights, he has enjoyed the adulation of a very supportive fan base and now he should be convinced to move on, to enjoy the money he so gallantly has earned, and have a great life.

4) Shane Mosley is still a competitive fighter. Mosley proved he still has the speed, the will and the hunger to remain a major player in the sport of boxing. It seems obvious that the partnership with Oscar de la Hoya, Bernard Hopkins and Marco Antonio Barrera has boosted Shane’s confidence. His father walked him to the ring, and perhaps their rift has been settled, and that would be a good thing for Mosley.

In the post fight interview, Pomona’s favorite son said he belongs in the welterweight division, and we couldn’t agree more. Perhaps a move down will restore the only piece missing in the Mosley puzzle: his knockout punch.

5) The Nevada State Athletic Commission needs to be saved from itself… Once again they expose their flaws, not just with the business of Vargas’ eye, but also with the handling of Zuri Lawrence, an undercard heavyweight fighter who was knocked out cold by a crushing left hook to the head delivered by unbeaten prospect Calvin Brock.

Zuri seemed to have lost consciousness, referee Nady was right on it, and as referees are instructed to do, Nady yielded to the doctor who was supposed to do… what? Come on, raise your hand if you know, this is Boxing 101 stuff… Right, he was supposed to remove the mouthpiece to facilitate the boxer’s breathing. Well, guess what happened? Dr. Watson never even attempted to remove the kid’s mouthpiece. He stuck an oxygen mask on Lawrence’s face, while the mouthpiece was still lodged in the fallen fighter’s mouth. Number 1 rule in the ABCs (Airway, Breathing, Circulation), is establishing an airway…that means you remove the damn mouthpiece! This shocking blunder by rookie doctor Watson should definitely be addressed by those in charge. Then again, perhaps the problem lies with those in charge…

Quotes of the night…

Shane Mosley…

“In the first round, I hit him in the left eye. As the rounds went on, it got bigger and bigger and I was like, `Wow.’ I couldn’t believe it… I heard Oscar (de la Hoya) and Bernard (Hopkins) yelling at me to go for his left eye. They were saying, `The eye, the eye.”

Fernando Vargas… “I think it was in the second or third round, and I think it was from a head butt,” Vargas said. “I didn’t think it was that bad. I could still see. I wasn’t retreating. I would have stepped it up immensely if I thought they wanted to stop the fight. I definitely could have continued.”