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Mosley, Cotto understand big fights, tough opponents


Shane Mosley knows all about big fights. They don't get much bigger than his two matchups with Oscar De La Hoya.

So when Mosley enters the Madison Square Garden ring Saturday night to face WBA welterweight champion Miguel Cotto, there won't be any stage fright. Mosley can handle the spotlight.

Can he handle the ultra-aggressive Cotto, who has knocked out 25 of his 30 opponents in an unbeaten career? Cotto will have a huge edge in the stands, too, because the Puerto Rican has become something of a favorite son among New Yorkers.

"You know it'll be a war in there," Mosley promised. "I'll do that myself and I know Miguel feels that way. It will be electrifying, fireworks everywhere."

Fans who remember Mosley's fights with De La Hoya, Fernando Vargas and Vernon Forrest know the entertainment value is high when "Sugar" is in the ring. When Cotto, who never backs down, is added to the mix, the possibilities are great.

"Cotto is a young, strong and hungry world champion," Mosley said. "And he's a real person. He's not somebody getting into the ring and playing patty-cake with. We'll get in the ring and do some damage."

Mosley hasn't always done much damage. While he's on a five-bout winning streak that includes two knockouts of the formidable Fernando Vargas, he also lost twice to Vernon Forrest and then twice to Winky Wright in a 44-4 career. At his best, he will give Cotto fits.

But if the 36-year-old Mosley is showing any age, Cotto, who is nine years younger, could dominate.

"Shane was a three-division world champion," Cotto notes. "He's a good fighter. He gives a good fight. He's a good boxer.

"I don't have to be stronger, quicker than Shane. I have to be more intelligent. And I'm going to do that."

Even if Cotto loses to Mosley, he would remain a considerable force in the sport. For one, he'll always be welcome at the Garden, where he draws big, boisterous crowds. For another, he's a willing fighter who doesn't duck opponents.

Mosley needs a victory to avoid fading out of the championship picture.

"If I win this," he said, "people will say he beat a great fighter. This is the time I want to make my mark and people will say, 'Yeah, he's the best fighter around.'"

The undercard on HBO pay-per-view features a WBC lightweight interim title bout between Cuban Joel Casamayor (34-3-1, 21 KOs) and Californian Jose Armando Santa-Cruz (25-2, 14 KOs). Also on the card is a 12-round welterweight between former champion Antonio Margarito of Mexico and Golden Johnson of San Antonio.

One of the rising stars of boxing, Californian Victor Ortiz (19-1-1, 14 knockouts) goes in a junior welterweight bout against Colombia's Carlos Maussa.

The Garden is opening the mezzanine to sell $50 seats. Cotto sold out the place in June for a fight with Zab Judah, and promoters hope he and Mosley will fill the building Saturday night.