Originally created 07/21/02

Forrest remains champion



INDIANAPOLIS - Vernon Forrest was a 7-1 underdog in January when he met Shane Mosley, considered by many to be the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world.

And although Forrest knocked Mosley down three times in their first bout before winning a lopsided decision, Forrest was only a 6-5 favorite for Saturday's fight at Conseco Fieldhouse.

Forrest, an Augusta native, proved the first time was no fluke.

With a three-inch height advantage and a strong jab, Forrest kept Mosley away from the inside - where he could throw power shots - and did just enough to retain his WBC welterweight title by beating Mosley with a unanimous decision in front of an Indiana-record crowd of 15,775 fans.

Judge Gary Merritt scored the match 116-112, Jerry Roth had it 115-113, and Tony Castellano tallied a 117-111.

Forrest, who earned about $3.3 million for his night of work, improved his record to 35-0 and answered critics who said the only reason he won the initial bout was because of an ugly head-butt in the second round.

Mosley (38-2) opened Saturday's match in a fit of rage, throwing a left-right combination that threw Forrest against the ropes.

Forrest responded with a gruesome smile, displaying his black mouth piece.

"He came out with a different strategy, but I was still able to catch him with some good shots, " Forrest said. "When you have two great fighters in the ring together, you can't fight with reckless abandon. I had to be careful. His shots didn't really stun me, but I knew he has a sharp punch."

After Mosley let loose his anger, the fighters settled down - Forrest even softly patted Mosley on the right thigh at the end of the third. Mosley, throwing sharp combinations and out-jabbing Forrest, appeared to win the first two rounds.

Mosley was content to play defense and throw a limited number of combinations for the next few rounds, and Forrest was happy to jab and throw the occasional power shot. Meanwhile, he racked up rounds in the eyes of the judges.

Mosley closed the ninth round with five hard shots, and that seemed to fire up both boxers as the two traded solid punches in the middle of the ring in the 10th - probably the best round of the fight.

Forrest, though, came back in the 11th, staggering Mosley with a right to the face and then with two more blasts to back Mosley into the ropes as the bell rang.

"I thought it was a close fight and that I had him by a couple of points," said Mosley, who tilted his head and gave a sad smile as the decision was announced. "But the judges obviously thought otherwise."

Reach Josh Katzowitz at (706) 823-3216 or josh.katzowitz@augustachronicle.com.