Shane Mosley: Most Accomplished At 135 Since Roberto Duran
His record reads like a who's who of the best fighters who've campaigned between lightweight and junior middleweight circa 1997-2009. No, he's not undefeated, but Shane Mosley is one of the few fighters of his generation that sought and fought the best available opposition every time out. He's won 46 of 51 career fights, has never been stopped and only put down once as a pro.
Mosley turned pro fighting as a lightweight in November of 1993 after losing to future nemesis Vernon Forrest at the 1992 Olympic trials. Mosley was a physical beast at 135 and compiled a record of 32-0, going 9-0 (8) in lightweight title bouts. His father trained him during his entire lightweight campaign, and was often quoted as describing his son's style of fighting as power boxing. The reality is as a lightweight Shane could fight any style he wanted. He was an outstanding boxer and a terrific puncher at the weight. His style is classified as a boxer-puncher. To compliment Mosley's physical prowess he was as mentally tough as any fighter you've seen during any era.
After going undefeated as a lightweight for six years and cleaning out the division, Mosley decided to move up to welterweight - completely by passing the junior welterweight division just as Roberto Duran did in 1978. Nine months after relinquishing his lightweight title, Mosley challenged Oscar De La Hoya (32-1) for the WBC welterweight title. At the time, De La Hoya's only defeat was a disputed split decision to the undefeated Felix Trinidad nine months prior. To many including this writer, De La Hoya was undefeated in the ring entering the Mosley bout based on him winning the Trinidad fight 7-5 /115-113.
Fighting in only his third bout at 147, Mosley out thought and fought De La Hoya and added the WBC welterweight title to his resume via capturing a 12-round split decision -- that should've been unanimous. After three successful defenses won by stoppage, Mosley was dropped by his old amateur nemesis, Vernon Forrest, in the second round and lost his title via a unanimous decision. Six months later Forrest repeated his mastery over Mosley to a lesser degree and retained the WBC welterweight title again by unanimous decision. As is the case in many boxing rivalries, Forrest has Mosley's number in much the same way Junior Jones did Marco Antonio Barrera. Forrest's style, size and reach were too much for Shane to navigate past. Just as Barrera is a greater fighter than Jones, Mosley is a greater fighter than Forrest.
A year after losing the rematch to Forrest, Mosley moved up to Junior middleweight and won a unanimous decision over Oscar De La Hoya to win the WBC/WBA titles. The rematch with Oscar was a completely different fight from their first. De La Hoya used the ring and boxed - thus forced Mosley to fight as the attacker. When it was over those who attended the fight thought it was a clear Mosley win, those who watched the HBO broadcast felt Oscar pulled it out. For the record I scored it a one-point win for De La Hoya.
A few years after the fight it was reviled that Mosley took two different types of designer steroids given to him by his conditioning coach. Not being an expert on steroids I can only give my opinion, and this Mosley messed up. The only reason a fighter would take any form of steroid is with the hope they'd enhance their strength and punch. In Mosley's case it was for not. If anything he screwed up his body and it took him a few years to regain his form. Instead of boxing and picking his spots -- he started believing he was a big puncher at the higher weight, which he wasn't. Evidenced by his next fight when he lost a one-sided decision and his junior middleweight title to Winky Wright.
Eight months later Mosley lost a rematch to Wright and failed to regain the title. The second time around with Wright was a lot closer fight, but Winky proved to be too big and strong for Mosley. Shane's added weight and punchers mindset was all wrong for him -- when the fight was over he adopted a new mindset and relieved his father as his trainer. Something that was a good thing due to his father not being able to be honest with his son which prevented him from telling the fighter when he was losing during the bout.
Since losing the rematch against the bigger, taller and stronger Winky Wright, who has fought as high as 170 since then, Mosley has gone 7-1 fighting between 147 & 153. Among his victims are Jose Luis Cruz who was undefeated going into the fight. Which he followed up with two stoppage wins over former junior middleweight champ Fernando Vargas. He also defeated Luis Collazo and had less trouble with him than either Ricky Hatton or Andre Berto. His lone loss came against undefeated Miguel Cotto, a fight I scored a draw. Actually, Mosley's toughness and stubbornness made the Cotto fight tougher than it should've been for him.
Shane is at his best fighting as a counter-puncher and going to his opponents body with his left hook as they come to him. Give Cotto props for being smart and adjusting. Once Miguel sensed that Shane was stronger and more physical than him, he lured Mosley into pressing the fight and countered him on the way in. As is the case in some fights, Mosley looks for the sensational one-punch knockout when fighting an opponent who's moving away -- as he did versus Cotto.
In his two fights since Cotto, Mosley knocked out the wild and hard charging Ricardo Mayorga. In his last bout he fought one of the most complete fights of his career and demolished the tough and never been stopped before Antonio Margarito in nine rounds to regain the WBA welterweight title.
Mosley showed a varied attack and how he can think against a tough and dangerous opponent in Margarito, who was coming off the signature win of his career in his last fight. During the fight with Margarito, Mosley held and clinched at the perfect time - thus thwarting and disrupting Antonio's aggression. In doing that he was forcing Margarito to go back to square one and start over in trying to mount his assault. Only he was met with sharp one-twos and hooks to the body and a few right uppercuts to the chin in the process. No doubt about the outcome in that one, the soon to be 38 year old Mosley totally and methodically took apart the fighter who was believed to be an unstoppable force in the welterweight division.
Some may look at Mosley's career record of 46-5 (39) and not be overwhelmed by it. A sentiment I find fault with. Those five loses are in no way a sign of mediocrity. What they represent are a sign of no set-ups, a fearless fighter at the highest level - and a management team a little too easily persuaded by the fighter and his willingness. Since Roberto Duran abandoned the lightweight title back in early 1978, Shane Mosley has to be considered the most dominant and accomplished fighter to campaign at 135. No, I didn't forget about Pernell Whitaker who I'd rate next after Mosley, followed by Floyd Mayweather Jr. I base this mainly on Mosley's level of opposition above lightweight superior compared to Whitaker and Mayweather. Of course the final chapter isn't complete on Mosley or Mayweather.
My high praise for Mosley stems from two schools of thought. First, he can fight. Throughout his career regardless of weight he's shown he can throw every punch in the book. Fighting as a lightweight he was exceptionally strong and could really punch with both hands. Add to that he's fast of hand and foot and could put two and three punch combinations together in rapid fire succession. When he's of the right mindset he could adapt to varying styles. His problem is/was harnessing the right mindset against physically bigger fighters.
There's no doubting Shanes's ability to take a punch. Due to his somewhat close to Ray Robinson mindset of trying to take his opponents head off with almost every punch, he is there to be hit back. Other than being in trouble in the second round against the undefeated Vernon Forrest in their first bout, he's never been close to being stopped.
Fighters - at least in this writer’s view are measured by whom they fought. Their record and opposition is the ultimate lie detector. I don't care how many fights they won or what their knockout percentage is. I care about who they beat and stopped. In that aspect, Mosley is unparalleled making the transition from lightweight through junior middleweight and the most successful at doing it since the great Roberto Duran.
Mosley never lost as a lightweight. Then between welterweight and junior middleweight in major fights went 11-5, losing to former or future champs Vernon Forrest, Winky Wright and Miguel Cotto by decision. Heading into their fights with Mosley, Forrest, Wright and Cotto were a combined 109-3 (97.3%).
Shane Mosley is without question an all-time great and his credentials are impeccable. His body of work holds up under any criteria and he's everything you'd want in a fighter who would've more than held his own during any era fighting between 135/147.