On this day… January 26… Forrest surprises Mosley

The scene was set for Shane Mosley to become a superstar. Having defeated Oscar De La Hoya to unify the welterweight titles, he made three defences and clashed with Vernon Forrest inside the Theater in Madison Square Garden. Mosley was 38-0, Forrest was 33-0 and things soon went sideways, unexpectedly so, for Mosley.

The Californian endured a torrid second round, in which he was down twice. 

Initially, he was cut on the forehead following a clash of heads, which referee Steve Smoger deemed accidental. But Mosley was caught by a big, long right hand and wobbled as a result, and with Mosley going to the ropes to recover he got nailed by a terrific right uppercut and a follow up combination that dropped him for the first time in his career. 

With a minute left in the round, Mosley was in the midst of a crisis and he desperately tried to hold on as Forrest tried to put him away, launching forwards with more right hands and landing several that ultimately caused Mosley to wilt again just before the bell.

“Shane, you’ve got to hold your hands up… When he comes close, you’ve got to grab him,” said Mosley’s father and trainer Jack in the corner.

Mosley dug deep and was able to hang tough, but it was not enough. It was the finest performance of Forrest’s career and one of the biggest upsets of 2002.

Forrest’s rangy and spiteful jab was often able to negate Mosley’s blurring handspeed, and the man from Atlanta, Georgia, won a wide and deserved decision. 

“No one believed I was going to do it, but I told y’all,” said Forrest. “I had a radar tonight. I had a heatseeking missile and I was tracking him with it.”

In case there was anyone who thought it was a fluke, Forrest repeated the victory six months later in Indianapolis, albeit by narrower margins.

On the undercard, an impressive Arturo Gatti stopped Terron Millet in four rounds and, at heavyweight, Sherman Williams beat veteran Al Cole.

Also on this day in 1959… Mexican great Salvador Sanchez was born. Sanchez went 44-1-1 with 32 stoppages in his thrilling career but died in a car crash in 1982, three weeks after his biggest win, which came over African legend Azumah Nelson.