LAS VEGAS - After a hard night's work, where he said he felt "an overwhelming power throughout the fight," Sugar Shane Mosley said he wasn't even tired.
"I could have gone another 12 rounds," Mosley said after earning a unanimous, 12-round decision over Oscar De La Hoya last night in a bout that made Mosley the first man ever to defeat De La Hoya twice in his career.
Mosley (39-2) proved himself deserving of the name "Sugar," earning from De La Hoya (36-3) the World Boxing Council and World Boxing Association 154-pound titles before a sellout crowd of 16,268 at the MGM Grand's Garden Arena.
Responding to his father and trainer, Jack Mosley, who told him there was a sense of urgency for him to step up the pace, Mosley, 32, used a fierce body attack and an assortment of crosses with both hands to sweep the seventh, eighth and ninth rounds.
At times, Mosley, in only his second bout up from the welterweight (147 pounds) division, stood toe-to-toe with his supposedly stronger adversary. He cut De La Hoya, 30, above his right eye and generally enforced his will during exchanges where he used a sustained, brutal body attack.
"He [Jack Mosley] was telling me that this is Las Vegas, and it's Oscar's town," Mosley said. "I really had to pour it on."
In doing so, Mosley ended a 26-month winless streak that included two losses within a six-month span to Vernon Forrest. Mosley also made good on his vow to overwhelm De La Hoya with the technique called "power boxing," a high-octane, high-intensity level of punching that he promised De La Hoya would be unable to match.
Mosley promised to win by a large margin, but the judges' cards said differently. All three judges had him winning a close fight, 115-113.
"I was surprised to get the decision. It was close, but there was only one round where he gave me trouble," said Mosley, who rocked De La Hoya several times between the 10th and 12th rounds. "I won it by one or two rounds. I gave him lots of movement."
De La Hoya's jab became less effective after the fifth round, allowing Mosley to move in more easily.
"I hurt him; he never hurt me," Mosley said. "I felt an overwhelming power throughout the fight."
De La Hoya, who had won four straight bouts, three by knockout, said he was disappointed with the verdict - his first loss since Mosley's split-decision triumph in June 2000 that dethroned De La Hoya as WBC welterweight champ.
De La Hoya's trainer, Floyd Mayweather Sr., kept telling Oscar in the corner that he was fighting a smart fight.
"Obviously, I thought I won the fight. I didn't even think it was close. I thought I won by a lot of points," said De La Hoya, whose father, Joel, said he would protest the decision. "I thought I won by at least three points."
In what was largely a feeling-out first round, the fighters circled and mostly jabbed. But Mosley shook De La Hoya with a hard left hook - the round's most telling punch.
Mosley stood and countered De La Hoya's second-round jabs with rapid-fire blows from several angles. De La Hoya's jaw was reddened by the third round and cut by the start of the fourth from a clash of heads.
But De La Hoya began to abandon his jab after the fifth round, perhaps a result of the body shots, and began to allow Mosley to get closer and force more in-fighting.
Mosley then picked up the pace and swept the seventh, eighth and ninth rounds by moving in and waging a wicked body attack that caused De La Hoya to give ground.
De La Hoya had tried to pick up the pace in the seventh round, finishing a three-punch combination with a left hook. But Mosley began to win the battle of jabs, chasing De La Hoya with overhand rights.
That's when Mosley began to follow up his body blows with a variety of crosses and uppercuts with both hands, backing up De La Hoya with punches that he delivered with surprising power to De La Hoya's head.
Mosley is guaranteed $4.5 million, plus a bonus of $500,000 from De La Hoya for winning, and could earn as much as $9 million with his share of pay-per-view sales. De La Hoya is assured $17 million, but even in defeat, could earn a career-best $24 million.
"I would have been heartbroken to lose this fight after losing in the negotiations," said Mosley.
Now Mosley is back on top, but whether he takes advantage of his status remains to be seen.
De La Hoya was looking to add Mosley to a long list of vanquished past champions and contenders, such as Pernell Whitaker, Julio Cesar Chavez, Fernando Vargas, Ike Quartey, Javier Castillejo, Hector Camacho, Jorge Paez, Rafael Ruelas, Oba Carr, James Leija, Arturo Gatti and Derrell Coley.
"De La Hoya is a great warrior," Mosley said. "It was a close fight. I'll give him another fight."