In a celebration of Mexican Independence and interminable clinching at Los Angeles' Staples Center Saturday night, the main event featured two fighters tepidly applauded by the predominantly Hispanic audience of 13,591: Mexican-American Sergio Mora (21-1-2) and Shane Mosley (46-6-1), whom some fans consider honorary Mexican by osmosis, given his many defeats of Mexican fighters (including victories at this arena over Oscar De La Hoya and most recently Antonio Margarito). Each fighter seemed well past their primes, neither appearing to warrant a bout against the winner of Pacquiao-Margarito mega-fight this November.
A ring the size of a telephone booth would have served Shane Mosley, who seemed exasperated in both frustration and fatigue and by just the third round already had to sprint to a retreating Mora to attempt a shot. Plentiful clenching ensued. Mora's short arms and Mosley's short stature hurt each's ability to land from the outside. The battle quickly became an inside game.
Mora would turn left-handed at times to prove he was ambidextrously ineffectual. At varying times, he attempted to fight going backwards and forwards, again with equal ennui. The crowd began to boo loudly, scanning about the seats in an apparent hope a fistfight would break out. None did. They found themselves too uniformly in agreement on the lack of action.
The decision was announced as a draw (112-116 for Mosley, 115-113 for Mora, and 114-114), which hopefully will not be misconstrued as an invitation to a rematch. Mosley is left with little to mull beyond the end to a storied career.
The televised portion of the card began between Victor "Vicious" Ortiz and Vivian "Vicious" Harris, announcing the bout Michael Buffer amazingly failed to elicit the crowd's collective sigh as he proclaimed it, "A battle of 'vicious' dimensions." It was vicious, though entirely one-sided for Ortiz, who landed 54% of his power punches.
In the second round, Ortiz (28-2-1) knocked Harris down three times. Between rounds the crowd awaited the replay to show on the JumboTron, only to have the southpaw Ortiz perform it for them 45 seconds into the third, knocking out Harris with hook-uppercut combination. Harris' record drops to 29-5-1.
Ortiz then called out the last opponent to defeat him, Marcos Maidana (who has a bout scheduled in Las Vegas December 11 against junior-welterweight champion Amir Khan), saying, "I want a shot a world championship. I'm not dodging anyone."
In the co-feature, Saul Alvarez (34-0-1) faced off against Carlos Baldomir (42-13-6).
In some instances in the Spanish language, Baldomir's nickname of "Tata" can be translated as "grandpa," tonight was one of them. The 39-year-old Baldomir battled his 20-year-old opponent, who entered the ring with the correct game plan: to be younger.
Alvarez, hailing from Mexico, was the favorite over the weathered Argentine, handing him his first knockout in 16 years. The first round appeared to go Baldomir, who hit Alvarez with a succession of counter-hooks that caused the red-headed Mexican to pocket his right hand. Baldomir's ring generalship and clean punching made for a competitive round, yet all three judges scored the stanza for Alvarez. It was a sign of the things to come.
After the fight, Alvarez boasted, "I told you guys I was going to come with experience." Alvarez, however, is still green: feinting without knowing what to do next; shifting his shoulders instead of using lateral footwork to develop angles (which only telegraphs that he isn't going to throw); and adjusting to being hit defensively without the arsenal to vary his counter-assaults.
In the second round, Alvarez whiffed an uppercut, but as the rounds progressed it would prove a critical counterpunch for him. In the fifth, Baldomir was unable to find his range to hit nearly as well as to be hit, regressing into half-hearted assaults of frustration. He continued to look for the counter-hook, tossing a lazy jab to draw Alvarez's right and fire a pull-counter. To his credit, Alvarez never fell for it, and began landing the uppercuts he had been missing, as Baldomir's posture slumped his head into position to receive them. A straight right from Alvarez hurt his opponent, which drew an opening for a strong left hook that sent Baldomir face-first to the canvas at 2:58 of the sixth. It is a decent win for Alvarez (who fought tonight at 150 pounds), but his future is hard to predict: he seems neither seasoned enough to face even the weakest of the welterweight champions, nor big enough to campaign at junior middleweight.
As he left to adoring cheers, one aspect of his future remains certain with regards to his becoming a champion: his fans have already begun to treat him as one. Time will tell if that is perilous or prophetic.