LAS VEGAS — Shannan Taylor knew Shane Mosley was something special even before they fought. What he didn't know was just how special.
Taylor found out Saturday night, taking punishing shots from a dazzling Mosley for five rounds before the challenger's corner finally decided he had enough.
"I just got beat by an awesome champion," Taylor said.
Few in the crowd of about 2,800 at Caesars Palace would argue after watching Mosley successfully defend his WBC 147-pound title with yet another dominating performance.
Mosley knocked Taylor down with a huge right hand in the first round, then hit him almost at will with an array of punches before the fight was finally stopped with Taylor on his stool at the end of the fifth round.
"Right now I'm pound-for-pound the best," Mosley said.
Taylor was game but simply didn't have the skills to compete with Mosley, who successfully defended the WBC welterweight title he won last June against Oscar De La Hoya for the second time.
Taylor was bleeding from the nose and had just taken a punishing series of shots to the body and head to end the fifth round before referee Vic Drakulich stopped the fight on the recommendation of Taylor's corner.
"He was taking too much punishment," trainer Jeff Fenech said. "From the first round on, he wasn't sure where he was."
Punch statistics compiled by Compubox showed Mosley landing 112 punches to 32 for Taylor.
It was the kind of performance that added credibility to Mosley's call last month for Felix Trinidad to stay at 154 pounds so they could fight for the mythical pound-for-pound title.
"I thought he wasn't going up to 160 as quickly as he was," Mosley said. "I would like to unify the division. I want these guys to get their titles in order and then unify the division."
Mosley hurt Taylor with a jab midway through the first round, and, with only a few seconds left in the round, threw a huge overhand right that put Taylor on the canvas.
Taylor got up at the count of six but was in a daze as he mistakenly went over to the neutral corner where Mosley was standing. Drakulich allowed the fight to continue, but Taylor was saved when the bell sounded to end the round.
"I didn't know where I was," said Taylor.
Mosley caused blood to flow from Taylor's nose in the second round, and hurt him with right hands to the body and assorted punches to the head as the fight went on.
"I didn't want to go crazy and rush things," Mosley said.
Taylor, a 17-1 underdog, had never lost in 29 pro fights but had never fought anyone of Mosley's ability. He vowed to die in the ring if necessary, and fought gamely even while taking a beating.
Taylor's growing desperation, though, forced him to grab onto Mosley at every opportunity. A point was taken from him in the fourth round for holding Mosley and throwing him into the ring post.
Mosley improved to 37-0 with 34 knockouts, while Taylor fell to 28-1-1. Both fighters weighed the 147-pound class limit.
Mosley, of Pomona, Calif., earned $1.75 million, and Taylor was paid $300,000.
In another fight, Lance Whitaker staked a claim among heavyweight contenders with a second-round knockout of Oleg Maskaev.
Whitaker, a towering 6-foot-8, 256-pounder, staggered Maskaev with a right hand early in the second round. Maskaev went backward and Whitaker followed him across the ring, throwing two right hands, a left and then a right that put Maskaev flat on his back.
Maskaev rolled over but couldn't get up as referee Jay Nady counted him out at 1:03 of the second round.
"I don't even know what I threw at him," Whitaker said. "I just knew I wanted to make it look good. I can play with the big boys. I'm ready to fight for the heavyweight title."
Whitaker, of Granada Hills, Calif., improved to 23-1 with 19 knockouts, while Maskaev, 236, of New York, fell to 20-4.
It was the second straight knockout loss for Maskaev, who was stopped in the fourth round Oct. 7 by Kirk Johnson.
"Maybe I should have taken a tuneup fight following the Johnson fight to get my confidence back," Maskaev said.