An Oscar-Winning Performance


The post-Muhammad Ali era in boxing has seen a handful of great fights, several controversial ones, and several more that were just plain crappy decisions. Last Saturday night’s Oscar De La Hoya-Shane Mosley fight was perhaps the first in more than two decades to qualify as all three. A re-viewing of the fight confirms what the CompuBox punch stats clearly showed, namely that De La Hoya outfought Mosley.

De La Hoya landed nearly 100 more total punches (221-127), an advantage partially offset by the fact that 106 of De La Hoya’s punches were jabs (Mosley landed just 33). But De La Hoya also landed 21 more “power” shots, leaving HBO commentators Jim Lampley, Larry Merchant, George Foreman, and scorer Harold Lederman, who all had De La Hoya winning by two to four rounds, completely baffled at the three judges’ unanimous two-round edge for Mosley. Trainer Emanuel Steward and anchor Bob Costas also expressed surprise at the decision. Foreman was the most outspoken, flatly stating, “Something is wrong here.”

There was indeed something wrong, most of it having to do with the gaping disparity between what the numbers showed and what the three judges scored, the latter of which was endorsed by the predominantly East Coast press. The headline of the fight report by’s Tom Struby read, “What Controversy? Mosley Earned the Title,” which ran side by side with an analysis from’s ace, Jason Probst, who had De La Hoya winning in a landslide, nine rounds to three. The account by The New York Times‘ Clifton Brown inexplicably reported, “As he did in their first fight, Mosley made it difficult for De La Hoya to connect,” though, in fact, in all but three rounds, De La Hoya landed far more punches.

The Monday-morning spin from the New York media indicates that, as the HBO commentators suggested, a number of writers are taking out their hostility toward promoter Bob Arum on his fighter De La Hoya. The Daily News‘ Tim Smith went so far as to suggest that Lampley, Foreman, Merchant, and Lederman “have a vested interest in seeing De La Hoya win, as he is the network’s Pay-Per-View golden goose.” But this makes no sense at all—the only scenario that could possibly have guaranteed a rematch was a De La Hoya loss, since a victory by Oscar would almost certainly have resulted in his retirement.

Another argument making the rounds is that fans watching on TV didn’t get as accurate a picture of the fight as the judges and writers who were at ringside. Considering the number of camera angles HBO offered, this is improbable, but in any event, CompuBox’s Bob Canobbio, whose punch stat counts have always been considered reliable up to now, reveals that “De La Hoya landed more punches than Mosley in seven rounds, Mosley landed the most punches in three rounds, and two were even. I don’t understand the scoring. Even if you throw in the two even rounds for Mosley and give Mosley two points for the ninth round—in which Mosley landed a hard right, probably the best punch of the fight—I don’t see how Mosley is given credit for winning seven rounds. And remember that the judges didn’t give Mosley credit for a two-point round.”

For the record, we scored it 7-4-1. If you watch the replay, let us know what you think.