Sad news hit the boxing world on Friday when it was announced that highly regarded trainer Naazim Richardson passed away at just 55 years old, following a long-term illness. Richardson notably trained former world champions Steve Cunningham, Bernard Hopkins, and Shane Mosley.
This Sunday Punch is a tribute of sorts to Richardson specifically for what happened pre-fight, then the masterclass put on my Shane Mosley during the fight.
On January 24th, 2009, Mosley was the underdog against WBA welterweight champion Antonio Margarito had just handed Miguel Cotto his first loss by TKO in July 2008. Margarito had considerable punching power, volume, workrate, and a whole lot of other things to make up for his incredible, Chris Leben-like slowness. Mosley was coming off a TKO of Ricardo Mayorga but was otherwise an underdog when he took on the Mexican at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
But before the fight could even begin, Naazim Richardson spotted something fishy.
Let Ring Magazine tell the tale from that night:
Shortly before the fight was set to begin, Naazim Richardson, Mosley’s astute trainer, was doing his duty by watching carefully as Javier Capetillo, Margarito’s trainer, wrapped the hands of his fighter.
At first, Richardson complained that Capetillo was taping too far down Margarito’s wrist and a commission official made him re-tape it several times. Then, when it came time to place a protective gauze pad over the fighter’s knuckles, Richardson felt it and could tell immediately that it was harder than usual.
Also, Robert Olvera, Mosley’s doctor, reportedly noticed a flaky substance on the pads that reminded him of the plaster doctors use to make casts.
“From there, I said, ‘Listen, this isn’t cool,’” Richardson said.
The pads were impounded by the California State Athletic Commission, which is conducting an investigation.
Hopefully, investigators will determine that the pads weren’t unusually hard after all. And, if it does prove to be true, Richardson allowed for the possibility that Margarito wasn’t fully aware of what was in his gloves.
That said, Richardson has no doubt about what he felt – a hard pad that could’ve seriously injured his fighter. Or worse.
“He could’ve killed Shane,” said Richardson, his voice rising in anger. “We’ve seen guys die on the up and up. You can kill him. That s— is ridiculous.”
It was later found out that Margarito did have a plaster-like substance in his gloves, aka “loaded gloves” aka dangerous cheating. This has obviously forever called into question the validity of previous fights in his career.
Anyway, Mosley turned in what I think was genuinely the last great performance of his remarkable career. Margarito was thoroughly outboxed virtually from start to finish, and steadily a man with an incredible chin was being broken down. Mosley poured on the punishment in the 8th round, rocking Margarito with a big left hand that sent him staggering. “Sugar” Shane would not let up and should’ve had a knockdown after a left hook sent Margarito towards the ropes and they clearly saved him from going down. Not to worry, as a big right hand did deck him moments later.
Margarito never recovered, and round nine was just a continued assault until the towel was thrown in and the referee stopped the fight. To use Jim Lampley’s words as I did in the headline, Shane Mosley annihilated Antonio Margarito.
Watch the highlights of this masterclass at the top of the page.
Mosley (49-10-1, 41 KOs) finally retired in 2016 and will go down as one of the best of his era, having won world titles at lightweight, welterweight, and junior middleweight. If you’ve never watched Shane Mosley at lightweight, please do because it’s a whirlwind of fun.
Margarito (41-8-1 NC, 27 KOs) had his license suspended by the California State Athletic Commission for his plaster hands, and by the time he could box again in the USA he was severely damaged by Manny Pacquiao and then busted up some more in the Miguel Cotto rematch. He has permanent eye problems thanks to the Pacquiao bout and while he did return to boxing, it was exclusively in Mexico and in largely irrelevant fights.
Last but not least, RIP Naazim Richardson, who’s left this world far too soon. Mosley may have been magnificent against Margarito, but Richardson was the real hero of this story.