In a new year, and at the beginning of the new millennium, moviegoers flocked to theaters to see Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Lord of the Rings, and Training Day. The Sopranos, Friends, and 24 owned American television.
The year was 2001.
On July 21, Caesars Palace in Las Vegas played host to a doubleheader that began with Heavyweights Michael Grant and Jameel McCline. The main event was a Welterweight title fight featuring champion Shane Mosley (37-0, 34 KOs) and contender Adrian Stone (30-3-2, 23 KOs).
A scorcher outside, the card was held inside the cool confines of Caesars Pavilion. Fans were eager to see the man who answered to the name Sugar.
Mosley, 29, was making the third defense of his WBC Welterweight title, a crown he captured just over one year before with a powerful performance against Oscar De La Hoya. The former IBF Lightweight champion, Mosley stepped up in weight class for bigger names and bigger paydays.
He had now catapulted himself among the elite and topped most pound-for-pound lists.
His opponent on this night was a hard hitting, yet unranked fighter. Stone, 30, was described as a B or B-plus contender who had been in the ring with the likes Vernon Forrest and Skipper Kelp. The unheralded Stone told Larry Merchant, “My entourage consists of me, myself, and I.”
Scheduled for 12 Rounds, HBO televised the bout live with Merchant, Jim Lampley and George Foreman seated near ringside to call the blow-by-blow action.
Ring announcer Michael Buffer introduced referee Jay Nady and then the fighters.
Round 1 began with Stone, donned in tiger striped trunks, advancing forward behind his left jab. Priority one, it appeared, was attacking the Mosley body. The champion, wearing blue trunks trimmed with gold and silver moved effortlessly from right to left demonstrating superior hand and foot speed.
There were few fireworks as the first three minutes were more of a feeling out process. When the bell sounded to end the round, Merchant agreed, “A tactical round.”
The first half of Round 2 looked much like the first three minutes. The challenger, to his credit, was successful in taking away the blazing combinations that Mosley often engineered. Thus far, the action was reduced to one and two punches at a time.
At the midway point of the second frame, left jabs were dispensed and the heavy leather began to fly. Stone was content to stand inside and trade toe to toe with Mosley. The challenger was giving as good as he was getting.
Although Stone was making a gallant effort, he was down 20-18 on all three scorecards after the first six minutes of action. Now in Round 3, both men lay inside often clinching while trying to find punching range.
As the round approached the midway point, Stone made his first, only and last critical error. With Mosley inching backward, Stone leaped in and ate a clean overhand right. The counterpunch blasted home landing flush on his jaw.
A rocked Stone staggered backward against the ropes. Lampley wailed, “Hard right hand by Mosley stuns Stone and stops him in his tracks!”
As Stone’s legs were wobbly and he was unable to defend himself, Mosley knew his man was hurt badly. The champion then jumped his wounded prey and went right hand crazy firing two, three, four sweeping overhand rights.
As Stone stumbled, desperately trying to survive, Mosley brought matters to a close with a brilliant left hook that landed on the side of Stone’s head. The combination was culminated by a picture-perfect straight right hand that snapped home on Stone’s cheek.
Lampley continued, “Another hard right hand! Stone is in trouble! Jay Nady stops the fight! That is a flat out knockout!”
Stone had spilled to the canvas, his body and head bouncing hard upon impact, as he now lay flat on his back. While looking up at the lights above, it quickly became clear that there was no need to count. The challenger would not be able to rise in the next 100 seconds let alone the next 10.
Ring doctors poured into the ring to surrounded the fallen fighter as Mosley leaned in to check on his foe. He dispensed with the celebration and instead got down on all fours next to Stone.
The bout was ended in spectacular fashion at 2:01 of Round 3.
The pound-for-pound king had rough waters ahead. Sandwiched between a second win over De La Hoya were back to back losses against Vernon Forrest and Winky Wright. Mosley would later recapture his days of glory with a pair of knockout wins over Fernando Vargas.
Stone would fight just four more times. After quickly nailing down three consecutive wins after the loss to Mosley, he then met Sergio Martinez in the fall of 2003 and was stopped in the 12th Round.
Mosley’s career continues to defy father time. His place in boxing history and his Hall of Fame status are certainly secure. He’s fought the biggest names in the sport, having won titles in multiple weight classes.
On that summer night in 2001, Sugar stood atop the boxing world as the pound-for-pound king.