Shane Mosley and Fernando Vargas proved Saturday night that despite being past their primes, they are still capable of putting on a good, compelling, hard-fought scrap, one which was won by Mosley after Vargas' left eye had swollen to Rahmanesque levels, giving referee Joe Cortez no choice but to call off the action early in round 10.
At the time of the stoppage, two judges had Mosley up 86-85, the other had Vargas up by one point.
The ending was anticlimatic to what was turning into a pretty dramatic contest. After getting beaten to the punch in the early rounds, Vargas, as promised, put pressure on Mosley and mounted a mid-fight rally, pushing and mauling the smaller Mosley on the inside.
"Shane knows I was putting pressure on him from round one," said Vargas at the post-fight press conference. "I was the one putting constant pressure, I was the one dictating the fight, and when they stopped it I thought they were just breaking us up."
He would add: "I know I was winning the fight," which had his large throng of friends and family breaking into a loud applause. Later he would say, "He knows I was on him."
Before the bout, Vargas had initiated a $100,000 bet on who could register a stoppage. Of that bet, Vargas pledged to pay it off. "I'm a man of my word," he said.
By this time, the victor had not made his way into the small and cramped Mandalay Bay ballroom where the press conference was being held. But as usual, there were plenty of non-media members in attendance, which meant civility and sportsmanship would soon give way to bravado and animosity.
In a first, Vargas, knowing Mosley had not arrived on the scene, asked his wife, Jin, of all people, if he was going to receive a rematch. Now, maybe it's because he thinks she wears the boxing trunks in their family, but I've seen a lot of boxers ask managers, promoters and networks for return bouts, but never, ever, a spouse.
"Am I going to get a rematch?" he asked, which brought a rather heated retort. It was at that point that the emotions began to get heated. By this time, Mosley's supporters had made their way to the press conference. Most of them were seated near the entrance of the ballroom. Most of Vargas' people were on the opposite end.
Suddenly, Oxnard and Pomona were just a few feet apart in Las Vegas.
As the commotion grew over her remarks, Shelly Finkel, who was seated next to Vargas, told Mrs. Mosley, "This is your time to really shine because your husband won. Now, if you want, in the future, Richard (Schaefer) and I and Kathy (Duva) will talk about it. At the end of the day if we can offer you the most money -- and that's what it's about -- we'll be able to do so. If not, you'll go from there."
Those words -- which were intended to soothe things over -- only heightened the intensity of the proceedings because by then, Vargas' spouse, Martha, who has never made so much as a peep in all her years of going to her man's bouts, was enraged and needed to be restrained from going after Mosley. It was shocking to see her this way, because in the past Martha had been very demure.
As they taunted each other -- with Jin telling Martha to take a look at her man's face and Martha telling them they'd gladly pay off the wager because they probably need the money worse than they did -- everything escalated as both sides started to edge their way toward the eye of the catfight.
A full-blown Jerry Springer show was erupting.
"Everyone please sit down a second," advised Finkel as security guards positioned themselves to make sure nothing more came out of this confrontation.
You can question just how ferocious Fernando is nowadays, but there's no questioning Martha, who had to be led away by members of Vargas' posse, averting an unscheduled walk-out bout.
Say this for both women -- they'll stand by their men.