Shane Mosley's Misfortune

Shane MosleyBy Imran Hussain - In boxing, it’s considered a pretty rare occurrence when the WBA Welterweight titleholder and widely considered best 147 pound fighter around struggles to find a meaningful matchup. Although after a rather turbulent year for fans of the sweet science, perhaps it’s not all that surprising – alongside every injury, every postponement, every scandal involving the innovate use of plaster of Paris – perhaps it’s become expected from the sport that we simultaneously love to hate and hate to love.

If we fans are beginning to feel a little bipolar, imagine what’s running through the mind of Mr. Mosley. Once considered the pound-for-pound best fighter with an incredible undefeated run at 135 pounds, compiling a 38–0 (36KOs) record and gaining the IBF Lightweight title before moving up to Welterweight to hand the Golden Boy his second loss, boxing fans and media alike began touting him as the next coming of Sugar Ray Robinson – which is, you know, pretty good..

Unfortunately for Shane, there’s universal truth to be found in the saying: “What goes up, must come down”. Isaac Newton would argue that gravity is the main proponent that causes bodies to fall, but on January 26th, 2001, Sugar Shane made the painful discovery that the late and great Vernon Forrest is equally as daunting a force, forcing Shane to taste the canvas due to a monstrous uppercut mixed in a barrage of punches during the second round of their bout. Losing by unanimous decision, and suffering the same fate in the rematch 6 months later, the see-saw career of Shane continued as he defeated Oscar De La Hoya in a rematch, but then suffered another two defeats at the capable hands of Ronald “Winky” Wright. Some guys just can’t seem to catch a break, huh?

Still desperate to reclaim his position as best in the sport, Mosley went on a 5 win streak before being matched up with the then undefeated next-big-thing in the Welterweight division, Puerto Rico’s very own Miguel Cotto. But as fate would have it, the Pomona, California native would be forced to add another L to his record, as Miguel would put on a masterful performance, offsetting Shane’s rhythm with his jab and using timing to negate his speed. Another close decision loss for Mosley, again seeing the man in the other corner have his hand raised at the end of the bout – he must be beginning to wonder if he’s at the mercy of some cruel inescapable curse.

Back to the drawing board for Sugar, who had grown accustomed to the sweet taste of victory throughout his first 39 fights, but now longed for a sustained supply to keep his cravings at bay. Paired up against fan favourite Ricardo Mayorga in his next outing, many felt his seemingly lacklustre performance saved by a last second knockout in the 12th round signalled the beginning of the end for the Ex 135 and 147 pound champ.

So when the news that Mosley’s next opponent would be the iron chinned conqueror who handed Miguel Cotto a shocking first loss by TKO in the eleventh round, the consensus seemed to be that Mosley was going to be massacred. Considered to have begun showing his age at 37, the relentless non-stop pressure from the Tijuana Tornado would burst through Shane’s resolve and sweep him up in the storm. But little did the world know, Shane had entirely different plans.

Entering the ring on the night of January 24th, one could sense an air of confidence surrounding Shane as he warmed up with a look of determination, bordering on hostility playing across his face. Having recently separated from his long time wife and manager Jin Mosley, and perhaps sensing that this may be his last chance to shine, the 4-1 underdog strode to the centre of the ring to touch gloves with one of the most feared men in boxing, and followed it up with one of the most dominating performances of his bitter sweet career. Mosley’s speed and movement were a wonder to behold, and it seemed that he couldn’t miss with his crushing right hand, throwing lead rights from all angles and rarely missing. Each and every spectator watched in awe as the 37 year old knocked down the champion with a barrage of 1-2’s in the 8th round.

Antonio Margarito never really recovered, and the 9th round was just a formality – Shane was the first boxer to stop the Tijuana Tornado. Now the holder of the WBA Welterweight title, and the number one contender for the vacant Ring Magazine Welterweight Champion status, Mosley tells us in the post-fight interview: “I run from nobody, I’ll fight anybody”.

But as Shane is fully aware, sometimes things don’t work out quite how we want them to. After winning what many regarded as the unwinnable, and earning himself a powerful position at the negotiations table, why is it that Shane is still searching for an opponent over seven months later? Unsurprisingly, it seems that bad timing and a healthy dose of bad luck again plagues the man who has become used to such predicaments. Due to the recent trend of catch-weight fights taking place, it seems once again Shane has been left out in the dark.

Just in case you didn’t know, the name Shane mentioned in his post fight interview faces off against pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao on November 14th, at a catch-weight of 145 pounds. That’s both those fighters removed from the possibility list, then. Also, the returning Floyd Mayweather fights Juan Manuel Marquez on September 19th, so a highly demanded showdown between Mayweather and Mosley cannot happen any time soon, although to be fair, Mosley has been guilty of turning down Floyd in the past.

So who’s left? Perhaps the next best possible opponent for Shane Mosley is Ring Magazine rated number three welterweight Joshua Clottey. The hard-headed (both physically and personality wise) Ghanaian makes sense for Mosley, who I believe would be able to beat Clottey. However, it feels like the fight is not of a worthy magnitude for Shane, as although by controversial split decision, Miguel Cotto just beat the man, which makes it seem that essentially Shane is being handed Cotto’s left overs. Perhaps this is fair, as Cotto has already beaten Mosley, but remember that Shane beat the man who beat the man in Margarito, loaded gloves or not, and deserves a chance at a high reward opponent.

Another possibility is undefeated WBC Welterweight Champion, Andre Berto. Coming off a win against tank-like Juan Urango who moved up to 147 for the fight, the 26-0 (19) boxer is a good opponent for Mosley. However, the fight is relatively high risk low reward for Shane, who would be expected to beat Berto in a convincing manner – and Berto’s last performance, although impressive, left some of the boxing media to question his entertainment value, as prize fighting is considered an entertainment sport. And it’s difficult to get tickets sold for a match-up that doesn’t guarantee excitement, particularly with the current economic climate, and Mosley wants (and deserves) a big payday.

In the last few days, an unexpected opponent poked out of the woodwork as an option for Shane, in Brooklyn’s very own Zab Judah. It had been reported that Zab had been contacted by Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, and offered $500,000 and 5% of the PPV sales to fight Mosley. However, this rumour has been squashed by Schaefer, which is probably a good thing, given Zab’s sometimes sporadic behaviour and strange approach to training.

So what else can Mosley do? He could play the waiting game and hope a meaningful match up crawls out of the woodwork, but with the Pacquiao/Cotto and Mayweather/Marquez series, it’s most likely the winners will fight each other, leaving no place for Shane for another six or so months. Now approaching his 38th birthday, unless he’s been having a few sneak sips of whatever Mr. Hopkins is drinking, he’s too old to wait around for opportunities like younger fighters can.

Mosley’s possible next date for a fight, I’ve heard rumoured, will be on December 26th on HBO. Since when has a world champion been asked to weigh in on Christmas day? And who do they expect will be tuning in to watch the fight the day after Christmas, except the hardcore fans amongst the sport?

Alas, Shane’s misfortune seemingly continues. They say it’s a shame when bad things happen to good people, and Shane is universally recognized as one of the nicest guys you can meet. Perhaps all of this stems from his dabbling with performance enhancing drugs – but his using them hasn’t exactly worked to his advantage – which he claims he didn’t know were illegal substances. Call me gullible, if you will, but I can’t help but be inclined to believe Shane’s words. Although I can’t say I’ve ever spoken to the man, he just seems like too genuine a person to be able to claim naivety with the sincerity he does and know the whole time it’s a stone faced lie.

It’s a crying shame for us fight fans that Shane cannot find a worthy opponent, as nobody can argue that Shane ever gives anything but his all in the ring, and has given us some thrillingly entertaining fights over the years. First separated from his wife, and now left without a dance partner in the squared circle known as the ring, lets hope things begin to look up for Sugar Shane Mosley toward the end of 2009, and well into 2010.

(Early happy birthday to Shane, who turns 38 on Monday)

Article posted on 04.09.2009

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