No matter how much I look at Saturday's fight in Los Angeles with the hope that Shane Mosley can actually win...reality quickly returns -- in the menacing form of Antonio Margarito.
It's not that I doubt Shane is a capable fighter.
He's clearly a first-ballot Hall of Famer, surely a pound-for-pound elitist and his win over Ricardo Mayorga a few months back was a classic late-round gut check that featured one of the sweetest show-closing left hooks this side of Ray Robinson.
Sugar begets Sugar.
But alas, Mayorga is no Margarito.
And vice versa.
In fact, based on recent performances -- a summertime bludgeoning of Miguel Cotto in particular -- the reigning welterweight king is clearly the best foe Mosley has ever faced in a ring, rivaled only by a 2000 vintage Oscar De La Hoya or a 2004 Winky Wright.
Problem is...his last big win was at least that long ago, too.
And considering Mosley was beaten in his last pre-Mayorga outing by the very same Cotto that Margarito vanquished eight months later, the burden borne by the likable 37-year-old in this go-round appears positively beastly.
Regardless of how sure he sounds on phone calls.
"I probably even feel more confident and comfortable than I did when I fought Oscar the first time," Mosley said. "I feel comfortable and I'm confident that I'm going to do my job. "I'm confident that I'm going to look spectacular. I'm confident that I'm going to be at my best.
"I'm confident that the fans around the world are going to be surprised and they'll be shocked."
Trust me, Shane, I'd like nothing better.
But rather than a time-traveling veteran playing successful matador to the 147-pound division's premier bull, my mind is instead clogged with ugly visions of gorings like those previously inflicted on prime 20-somethings Clottey, Cotto and Cintron.
No matter how many times I rewind, the movie ends the same.
If a 36-year-old Mosley wasn't able to out-grind the division's second-best sandpaper down the stretch in 2007, there's really no reason beyond well- intentioned sentiment to believe he's got the needed friction 14 months later.
Instead, it looks eerily similar -- albeit a touch more violent this time -- and rather than a stirring rally to a reversed decision, this weekend's conclusion seems even more likely to include a somber 10-count or a merciful intervention from a well-intentioned official.
And when pressed, even the underdog admits his mortality.
"I haven't thought about losing, so I don't know," Mosley said. "But it could happen."
I only wish I could disagree.
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Bob Papa seems like a decent enough guy.
And after years of hearing him call New York Giants football games on WFAN radio and seeing him adeptly handle football and boxing duties on television for NFL Network, ESPN and the self-proclaimed "Network of Champions," I'd surely consider him among the best in the business at his chosen crafts.
But that doesn't change last Saturday night's reality.
His on-air performance as part of the "Boxing After Dark" show featuring Andre Berto's gritty WBC welterweight title defense against Luis Collazo was, well...downright B.A.D.
Ominously, the trouble started before the fighters hit the ring, with Papa continually referring to the Brooklyn-based Collazo as "Lou-eese" -- while the fighter's preferred pronunciation ("Lou-ee") was correctly being used by analyst cohort Max Kellerman.
But far more maddening to these ears were the repeated in-fight references to a first-round knockdown scored by Collazo and the impact it was sure to have on a razor-thin scorecard verdict.
Only one problem...it never happened.
Oh sure, it's true Berto was driven awkwardly backward by a well-timed straight left hand, but his gloves never touched the canvas, the referee never intervened and there was never any trace of the standing 8-count that would have immediately followed such a sequence.
Still, in spite of myriad replays and analysis from Kellerman and Lennox Lewis, Papa referred back to the phantom knockdown several more times -- even stating at one point that it was Berto's late-round rally in the first that kept the judges' cards from reading 10-8 instead of 10-9.
By the end of the show I'm not sure what was more irritating, Papa's stubborn inaccuracy or the seeming inability of anyone else on the HBO crew to subtly correct him before he uttered it yet again.
As it turned out, Berto won in spite of the initial adversity, sweeping the scorecards with matching counts of 114-113 and 114-113 to go with a 116-111 nod from Bill Clancy that Kellerman and Co. were dead-on in labeling "absurd."
Incidentally, even though I saw it 114-113 for Collazo, the decision in Berto's favor was hardly criminal and I'd be more than happy to see the rematch that the now two-defense champion classily suggested during a subsequent in-ring interview.
And as for Papa...if a do-over does occur, he gets a mulligan.
P.S. -- Oh Bob, I almost forgot, the movie is pronounced "Joo-No."
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WBA welterweight title -- Los Angeles, Calif.
Antonio Margarito (champion) vs. Shane Mosley (No. 5 contender)
Margarito (37-5, 27 KO): Former WBO/IBF champion; 10-2 (1 NC) in 13 title bouts
Mosley (45-5, 38 KO): Former three-division champion; 14-5 in 19 title bouts
FitzHitz says: Margarito in 10
Last week's record: 0-1 Overall picks record: 55-24
Lyle Fitzsimmons is a 20-year veteran of sports journalism, a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and a periodic contributor to "The Drive with Dave Smith" on KLAA radio (am830klaa.com) and "Cold Hard Sports" on the MVN network (coldhardsports.com). Reach him via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.