Experts split on big fight

Ladies and gentlemen, we have a split decision.

Of the eight boxing experts consulted by the Nevada Appeal regarding the outcome of Saturday's WBC-WBA super welterweight title fight between champion Oscar De La Hoya and Sugar Shane Mosley, four are taking the "Golden Boy" to defend his crown, three are for Mosley and one has it too close to call.

The fight, which will be held at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and sold out the last of its 16,000-plus seats last week, is a rematch of a June 17, 2000, affair, in which Mosley defeated De La Hoya for his WBC welterweight title.

The 32-year-old Mosley, 38-2, with 35 knockouts and one no-contest, has been the busier of the two fighters since their encounter at Los Angeles' Staples Center, having six fights but winning only half of them. De La Hoya, 36-2 (29), has had more success, winning all four of his bouts.

Mosley defended his belt three times before back-to-back losses to Vernon Forrest. In his last bout, Mosley fought to a three-round no-decision with Raul Marquez, when a clash of heads left Marquez with a deep gash and unable to continue.

The 30-year-old De La Hoya, on the other hand, went on to stop Arturo Gatti before winning the WBC 154-pound title with a 12-round unanimous decision over Francisco Javier Castillejo in June 2001. De La Hoya, who has won titles in five different weight divisions from 130 to 154 pounds, then gained the WBA title with an 11th-round TKO over Fernando Vargas last September and added a seven-round blowout over Yory Boy Campas in May.

"It's a tough one," said Roger Bloodworth, who currently trains super middleweight prospect Jeff Lacy and has trained several other Olympians (De La Hoya won the gold medal in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona), including Meldrick Taylor, Pernell Whitaker and Evander Holyfield.

"I think a lot of people are going with Shane based on his last fight with De La Hoya. But I think Oscar has learned a lot from that last fight. I give Oscar the edge, with a decision. It might come down to who wants it more."

Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward, who has trained De La Hoya, said he couldn't pick a winner, but that boxing fans are in for a treat.

"It's going to be a classic," Steward said. "There are going to be a lot of punches thrown. It's going to be like (Thomas) Hearns and (Sugar Ray) Leonard. Both have a big point to prove. Oscar's very concerned about his spot in history and Shane hasn't had a win in two years."

Teddy Atlas, former trainer of heavyweight champion Mike Tyson and who serves as a boxing commentator for ESPN2 Friday Night Fights, said he's going against the grain with his pick.

"I like the guy that nobody else seems to like. I like Mosley," Atlas said. "I think it has to do with styles. Forrest had (Mosley's) numbera I think Mosley has De La Hoya's number. Molsey hasn't lost his legs or his speed. It's not like he's shot physically or has lost his ability. This is a fight where he can get his confidence back, find himself again. Mentally, it helps Mosley that he's already beaten Oscar twice (Mosley also beat De La Hoya as an amateur).

"De La Hoya has made some comments like, 'No matter what Shane says, this business is mostly mental. There's no way Shane's mentally ready after not winning his last three fights.' That tells me that Oscar expects this guy to be damaged goods. You say that and you go in there and set yourself up to stumble. I like Mosley by decision."

Ronnie Shields, a former junior welterweight contender and who trained Forrest when he twice defeated Mosley, offered a surprise pick.

"I've got to go with Shane," Shields said. "I like his speed. De La Hoya is going to try to keep up with his speed and he'll try to force the fight. Shane's too fast. De La Hoya doesn't have anything to prove. I don't understand why he took this fight. I don't think he's too big for Mosley and I don't think he has the right style to beat Mosley. Styles make fights. He's not going to be able to stop Shane's speed."

Freddie Roach, current trainer for IBF junior featherweight champion Manny Pacquiao, said he is conflicted about picking a winner.

"I hope Shane wins, because he's my friend. But I'm taking Oscar by decision," Roach said. "De La Hoya is getting better and better. It'll be a great boxing match. It won't be a slugfest, but the boxing purists will love it. It's a fight between two technicians."

Don Chargin, who has been promoting fights in California for more than 50 years and is a talent scout for De La Hoya's promotional outfit Golden Boy Promotions, said he's taking De La Hoya, whom he's known since De La Hoya was "a little kid."

"De La Hoya could stop him late, but it will most likely be a decision," Chargin said. "I like his determination. He was so hot after he beat Vargas, it was unbelievable. (De La Hoya's trainer Roger) Mayweather (Sr.) has been in his face in Big Bear. He's training hard. He really wants it."

Angelo Dundee, best known for training Muhammad Ali, said he is going with Mosley, who is a 2-1 underdog.

"I think this guy has De La Hoya's number," Dundee said. "I'm a firm believer that certain guys can beat certain guys (every time out). De La Hoya can't fathom this. (Neither fighter) is going to change from their first fight. They're not going to try to change. Mosley is one guy Oscar can't lick. Mosley is built like a brick outhouse. De La Hoya won't be able to juke and jive against the ropes against Mosley. (Mosley) will do a number on this guy. He'll ring his clock a couple of times. It's going to be good."

Bernard Fernandez, boxing writer for the Philadelphia Daily News, said he is taking De La Hoya because of the intangibles.

"It's not so much what De La Hoya is or isn't doing. It's what I see with Shane," Fernandez said. "It's been 25 months since he's won a bout. I have to believe his confidence level has been affected by the losses. And rumors have been flying about that there has been some trouble between Shane's wife and his father. I'm also a little skeptical that Mosley can be as effective at 154 pounds as he was at 135 and 147. I like De La Hoya by a 12-round decision."

The Nevada Appeal is taking Mosley via 12-round decision. Mosley's handspeed and ability to control the distance will be the difference.

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