CARSON, Calif. -- Fighting before his hometown fans, Shane Mosley badly wanted to beat Ricardo Mayorga by knockout. He came through with one second to spare.
Mosley stopped Mayorga at 2:59 of the 12th round in their junior middleweight bout Saturday night to possibly put himself in line for a title shot.
Neither fighter appeared seriously hurt before Mosley floored Mayorga with about 15 seconds left in the final round. Mayorga staggered to his feet and took the mandatory eight count before a short left put him down again. There was no way Mayorga was going to get up after that, and referee David Mendoza stopped the bout just before it was going to end in a decision.
Mosley led by one point on judge Nelson Vasquez's scorecard and five on Tony Crebs' card entering the 12th round. Mayorga had a one-point lead on judge Pat Russell's card. The Associated Press had Mosley ahead by three points entering the 12th.
Antonio Margarito watched the fight from ringside. Mosley, a former four-time world champion, has lobbied for a shot at Margarito, who stopped Miguel Cotto on July 26 in Las Vegas to win the WBA welterweight championship. Cotto earned the title by scoring a close but unanimous 12-round decision over Mosley 10½ months ago.
"Mayorga is a tough fighter, he took some good shots," Mosley said. "But I wore him down. He was a lot heavier than me. He put on at least 10 pounds."
Both fighters weighed 153½ pounds at Friday's weigh-in.
"I caught him with the side of my right hand and an uppercut, so I knew I hurt him and he got wobbly," Mosley said. "I felt him getting weaker during the fight, but he was trying to stay strong. I felt I was winning the fight and he stole a few rounds. But I wanted the knockout. I wanted to give the fans what they deserved, and that was a knockout.
"We had our share of rabbit punches, but he was definitely doing it more. We also exchanged some head butts, but it didn't matter in the end."
Mosley, who grew up in nearby Pomona, was fighting in the Los Angeles area for the first time since June 17, 2000, when he won a 12-round decision over Oscar De La Hoya at Staples Center.
Regarding his future, Mosley said: "I have to try and find fights now. I don't want to wait around for Cotto and Margarito. I know they have plans. I know Margarito is here watching. It was interesting."
Speaking through a translator, Mayorga said: "I was proud of the way Shane came to fight. He didn't run. I thought I was doing well, and I came out to win the 12th. But he caught me. I will tell you one thing -- he hit harder than I thought he would."
Mosley, 45-5 with 38 knockouts, hadn't fought since losing a close but unanimous 12-round decision to Cotto for the WBA welterweight championship at Madison Square Garden 10½ months ago. Mosley won his previous five fights -- two over Fernando Vargas -- and has beaten De La Hoya twice.
Mosley was supposed to return to action in May against Zab Judah, but the bout was canceled when Judah injured himself by putting his hand through a glass shower door.
Mayorga, 28-7-1, hadn't fought since winning a majority 12-round decision over Vargas 10 months ago. That was his first outing in more than 18 months; he was stopped by De La Hoya in the sixth round of their WBC junior middleweight title bout on May 6, 2006.
The 37-year-old Mosley, who was heavily favored, will receive a guaranteed $1.5 million; the 35-year-old Mayorga was guaranteed $550,000.
As expected, the announced crowd of 5,798 at Home Depot Center was pro-Mosley, and as the first round came to an end, the fans began chanting "Mosley, Mosley!" When the round ended, Mayorga stood on the ring buckle in his corner and thrust his fist into the air in an act of defiance.
Mosley landed a solid right in the fourth round, snapping Mayorga's head back and prompting the fans to begin another chant.
Midway through the fifth, Mayorga caught Mosley with a punch to the back of the head, and Mosley barked at his opponent before landing several solid punches. Then, as the round ended, the two barked at each other.
Mayorga, a three-time former world champion from Nicaragua, reacted like he had been poked in the eye in the sixth, and Mosley responded by rolling his eyes before going back on the attack.
The action slowed after that, and even the crowd had a difficult time getting into it, with some starting to boo late in the 10th round. Mosley landed a solid right midway through the 11th, but Mayorga responded by playing to the crowd, making it clear he wasn't hurt.
Finally, the action picked up in the 12th.
Earlier Saturday night, unbeaten Andre Berto of Winter Haven, Fla., scored a unanimous 12-round decision over Steve Forbes of Las Vegas to retain his WBC welterweight title. Two judges scored the bout 118-109 and the other 116-111.
The 25-year-old Berto, who earned $300,000, raised his record to 23-0 with 19 knockouts. The 31-year-old Forbes, who earned $150,000, is 33-7 with nine knockouts. Berto weighed 145½ pounds and Forbes the maximum 147 pounds. There were no knockdowns.
"I started to dominate in the fifth and sixth rounds, and it was my speed that won it," Berto said.