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Mosley Fighting Under Radar

Boxing: It's another small venue, as unbeaten welterweight champion faces Forrest, who is looking to repeat his victory at the 1992 Olympic trials.

January 26, 2002|STEVE SPRINGER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

NEW YORK — They held a boxing news conference here this week.

No, not that news conference.

This one didn't involve fists and jaws, merely some mild verbal jabbing.

This one didn't result in tables being overturned. As a matter of fact, they didn't even have tables. Or a dais. Just a few stools for the participants.

Lost in the furor over the Mike Tyson-Lennox Lewis brawl in midtown Manhattan earlier this week has been tonight's Shane Mosley-Vernon Forrest welterweight title fight at the Theater, a cozy 5,000-seat venue next to the main arena at Madison Square Garden.

Low-key news conference. Small site. Underdog opponent.

No pay-per-view.

Business, disappointing though it may be, as usual for Mosley.

Most boxing experts rank him as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world. At 38-0 with 35 knockouts, he passed his toughest test in June 2000 by winning a split decision over Oscar De La Hoya.

Since then, it has been one outclassed opponent after another--Antonio Diaz, followed by Shannan Taylor, followed by Adrian Stone.

There is, however, some intrigue about tonight's match, which begins on HBO at 6:30. Forrest has beaten Mosley. Of that, there can be no doubt. The two met as amateurs in the light-welterweight semifinals of the 1992 U.S. Olympic trials.

Because no one has produced a tape of that fight, the particulars are in dispute. Forrest says he knocked Mosley down. Mosley says it was a slip.

"Everybody knows I knocked him down," Forrest said. "I hit him right on the button. There's an AP photo that shows him stretched out."

Forrest says he proved he was the superior fighter. Mosley says he caused his own problems in that fight.

"He came out doing what does," Forrest said. "I hurt him, just took him to school and gave him a lesson. It was Boxing 101."

Countered Mosley: "I made it a lot harder than it should have been. Mentally, I wasn't where I am today. I had some growing up to do. It's my fault. I did that to myself."

Forrest says the edge he had a decade ago remains. Mosley says he is now a decidedly better fighter than Forrest.

Forrest says he will win.

Mosley doesn't agree with that.

"Shane has too much power, too much speed," said his father, Jack, who serves as his trainer. "Vernon will see that when he gets hit by Shane's power.

"This not 1992.... It's 2002."

The fight will be for Mosley's World Boxing Council title. Mosley weighed in at 146 pounds Friday, Forrest at 147.

Forrest won the International Boxing Federation welterweight crown last year by winning a decision over Raul Frank, but he was stripped when he took the Mosley fight.

As an amateur, Forrest had a record of 225-16. His victory over Mosley led him to the 1992 Barcelona Olympics, but he lost his first-round match, saying afterward he had been suffering from food poisoning.

Forrest is 33-0 with 26 knockouts as a professional. But Frank and Vince Phillips are his only relatively well-known opponents.

Unlike Tyson-Lewis, there is no animosity evident between Mosley and Forrest. There is never much animosity in a Mosley fight. It's not his nature.

So it was a little unusual to hear Mosley trashing Forrest for his travel schedule leading up to tonight, although it is true Forrest has followed a curious trail over the last month and a half.

Forrest went from his home in Georgia to train in Big Bear. Then to New York to promote the fight. Then back to Big Bear. Then back home to Georgia for Christmas. Then back to Big Bear. And finally here to New York, arriving in midweek.

"You do the math," said Mosley, who has been here for two weeks. "You've got to get over the sniffles you can get when you change climates like this. And you get a little tired when you change time zones."

Forrest laughed when Mosley's criticism was relayed to him.

"I came into his training area and rented a house near him," Forrest said, "because I wanted the nightmare he had 10 years ago to come back. I wanted him to see my face and have that nightmare every day and every night."

When the fight is over, Forrest says, the media will also have to face a nightmare.

"I'm going to have a pot of crow ready," he said. "All you media guys can eat some."

The semi-main event matches 140-pounders Arturo Gatti (33-5, 27), a former IBF junior-lightweight champion, and Terronn Millett (26-2-1, 19).

*

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX)

TONIGHT'S CARD

* Where: Theater at Madison Square Garden.

* What: Shane Mosley vs. Vernon Forrest, 12 rounds for Mosley's WBC welterweight title; Arturo Gatti vs. Terron Millett, 10 rounds, junior-welterweights.

* TV: HBO, 6:30 p.m.

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