By Chris Acosta: Does anyone know how to create an online petition? I’m speaking, of course, in reference to “Sugar” Shane Mosley and his complete misfortune in getting the one fight that may make him the mainstream star he deserves to be. And we all know who that one fight is with. As I sat from the comfort of my sofa watching yet another post-victory Floyd Mayweather speech, I was suddenly brought to my feet by the most excitement of the night when boxing’s best pound for pound practitioner was approached by a Mosley who has clearly exhausted every fiber of patience left in him.
Now normally, such shows of bravado come across as rude and an act of shameless self-promotion, especially on such a grand stage. Couldn’t Mosley have just called out Floyd at the post-fight press conference? Couldn’t he have conducted himself as the gentleman he’s always been and taken the more dignified route. Sure he could have. But I’m glad he didn’t. At this point, Mosley was well within his rights to reach across the visibly uncomfortable Max Kellerman and shove Floyd to the floor and ignite a highlight reel riot. He’s 37 years old, not getting any younger and without the luxury of wasting a few more years building up his profile to earn the right to compete with Floyd..
This is Shane Mosley for God’s sake! This is the guy who was so dominant at lightweight and welterweight (yes, until he ran into Vernon Forrest- I’ll get to that in a minute) that more than a few ring historians were drawing comparisons to - yikes!- Sugar Ray Robinson. Shane wasn’t just fast; he was powerful, skilled and vicious. And perhaps most importantly, he made you feel as though your opinion of him as a mere fan, actually counted for something. And then he lost to Vernon Forrest, a man who’d troubled him since the amateurs and we saw another side of Shane: the side unwilling to take a free bee on anyone‘s watch. He could easily have built himself up against lower-tier opposition instead of taking on a man who was just all wrong for him in the first place and probably been excused for doing so. But he chose to take a rematch because deep inside, he knew that he was better than that.
The same went for his tussles with Winky Wright, a fighter who was just too big and strong for him but also a situation in which Shame did better the second time around because of an immense pride which has kept him among the sports’ elite for over a decade. Mosley was overshadowed by the more popular Oscar De La Hoya throughout his entire career and when finally getting the chance to fight “The Golden Boy“, proved that he was the better man. But amazingly, the victory didn’t bring the crossover rewards it should have. Some blame the losses to Forrest as the reason for this and others on a personality which was just too drab and down to earth; relic qualities more suitable for black and white TV, drive-in theaters and Barbara Billingsley.
A second victory over Oscar followed in a new weight division and if a wishful Mosley thought that the stardom which had seemed to enjoy eluding him had been vanquished, then he was dead wrong. Oscar was still the more popular name who would go on to command higher purses and drawing power while his conqueror would take whatever fights came his way as though he were a payday club fighter. And to compound matters, there were the ugly BALCO hearings in which Shane was alleged to have taken anabolic steroids; something he maintains is not true. It’s a flimsy argument though, claiming to have no knowledge of something you ingest. This wasn’t GHB (the date-rape drug that gained so much disturbing steam in the earlier part of the millennium) which was slipped to a drunken, unsuspecting, sorority girl. This was a professional athlete who for all the world looked to want an advantage that his already prodigious talents weren‘t coveting. It didn’t look very good for Shane. And it got worse.
Earlier this year, Mosley filed for a divorce from his wife Jin, who had managed much of his career (for better or worse depending on who you ask). It was a particularly debilitating blow to the fighter who was suddenly making all the wrong kinds of headlines. The nice guy was finishing last which seemed difficult to comprehend in retrospect considering the expectations he‘d always provoked. In some ways, his path felt like it had been tragically derailed. This was supposed to be a household name and not a victim of poor choices and misaligned planets.
But no sooner was he being written off then there he was returning to form against Antonio Margarito; battering the favored Mexican (who had bludgeoned Miguel Cotto in his previous bout; the Puerto Rican star who’d handed Mosley a very close decision loss) and flashing his youth in our jaw-dropped faces. The victory was three-fold: he immediately shot to most pound for pound lists, destroyed a fighter who’d beaten the guy who’d beaten him and thus erasing the stigma of that loss and in an ironic twist, defeated an opponent who was himself suspected of foul play. Talk about having the heat taken off of you. So now Shane Mosley finds himself in virtually the same position he was before his first challenge of De La Hoya. He’s hungry and looking to cash in on something more important than currency in its literal sense. He’s on the verge of challenging Floyd Mayweather, another man who has the more prominent name, and finally snatching sweet stardom by its slippery throat and choking the life back into his very name. So I will excuse the guy if over the next couple of weeks, he says a bunch of things that are completely out of character for him in an effort to get the fight he wants. I know that there are those who still want to see Mayweather fight the winner of Cotto- Manny Pacquiao and I’d have no problem with that. But each of those fighters, great as they‘ve proven to be, have some time to decide their options.
Pacquiao hasn’t fought a full-fledged welterweight with anywhere near the skill level of Floyd and will likely be hindered by the size differential the way Juan Manuel Marquez was. Cotto hasn’t had an easy fight in ages and could use some time to heal before taking on another demanding assignment. If money is all that Floyd really cares about, then Cotto or Manny makes better business sense. They have monster followings that will surely drive up the PPV numbers.
But if he wants to truly establish his legacy, then it should come against a fighter of equal size who matches up with him perfectly. It should come against a man whose hands are nearly as quick, has superior firepower, true boxing class and a grudge to settle. Floyd has been afforded the luxury of picking his opponents and it‘s gotten old. Isn’t it about time an “opponent” picked him?