We all know what Shane Mosley’s going to say, most of the time, if the subject of inquiry put to him is his boxing career. He’s going to try and stay at welterweight because he (rightly) believes at that weight (147ish at weigh-in) he’s more than competitive. At 154 – jr. middleweight – he’s just too bulky, too often caught in the transit lounge of prime hitting, not quite inside and not yet all the way outside. The raw speed he utilized as the lightweight champion doesn’t manifest itself much above 155. You can see Mosley, as he fights at jr. middleweight trying to be quick, powerfully decisive, instead of reflexively effective, the punitive character of his darting power looking more like telegraphed thrusts.
We know he’s not entertaining retirement from the ring, unless he’s literally beaten into submission by Luis Collazo on Saturday night. The phrase he’s been using is that he “cannot see that far down the road” for he loves the life of disciplined training and being committed to personal excellence. For Shane Mosley boxing is about the culture of personal improvement. That hasn’t changed since he told us that just before erasing Aussie Shannon Taylor in spectacular form. Punch for punch, that 2001 WBC welterweight defense was as pure a performance as Mosley produced at 147. Smiling and showing that famous row of orthodontic true teeth, Mosley prefers we understand that he’s a man who does not wish to retire to California and contentedly play promoter to ring stars. That vision never comes into focus for the 36-year-old, four-time world champion.
Even if fighting while trying to build a promotion conglomerate seems like an irresistible combination because – so far – his fellow Golden Boy partners, principally Oscar De La Hoya along with Bernard Hopkins and Marco Antonio Barrera can’t get final separation from their ring careers either. Back with his father Jack as his cornerman, Shane Mosley’s trying to make money, selecting the best money grossing fights possible at welterweight. No news there! Which is too say, he’s trying to be his own man, justifying his place among the Golden Boy elite and searching for a few more defining victories for what he sees as a Hall of Fame career.
He also admits, turning rationalizing honesty into momentary confession, that there are a lot of old-ish name fighters, with and without titles, who make financial sense for a guy like Mosley. Sure there are young guns like Antonio Margarito and Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto but there are also guys like Cory Spinks and even Kostya Tszyu. Why not throw in Floyd Mayweather Jr. Yes, he’ll wait for his partner Oscar De La Hoya to try his luck with the brilliant Michigander, on May 5 at the MGM Grand, in Las Vegas. Mosley’s more than willing to take the leftovers either way. Yet, get Mosley warmed up and he’ll eventually get around to the refrain of “becoming the best pound-for-pound once again.”
No one really believes that part of the Mosley monologues. Hardly as irritating as Evander Holyfield saying he wants to once again “become the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world” or Vitali Klitschko reminding us ad nausea, “I definitely want a rematch with Lennox Lewis… That’s my ultimate fight.” Mosley’s only shot at bypassing reason, genetics and probability – to hear him say it – would be a win over Floyd Mayweather Jr., a Floyd Mayweather Jr. coming off victory over Oscar De La Hoya. No, few are going there; few think in such terms. Still, you get the idea that should Mosley put up a credible and winning stand against Luis Collazo this Saturday night, for the WBC welterweight title (interim title) why not call out Mayweather? Why not challenge him to a catch-weight, say a 150 lb. showdown, for all the metaphorical marbles.
Think of how Mosley could ride up to defend the dented honor of Golden Boy Promotion. Think of how easy it would be to call out Mayweather, since Mosley will be onsite, floating around for fight week anyway, literally in the rhetorical mix. Incredibly, Mr. Mayweather has been calling De La Hoya overrated, cheap, plastic, a guy who’s afraid of him, one given to wearing makeup for the cameras. Ouch! And Oscar hasn’t tossed so much as a word in anger anyway near Mr. Magnificent. One sentence from even the normally respectful Mr. Mosley and the fireworks would be bursting.
Of course, we are getting way ahead of events. Of course, “Sugar” Ray Leonard may be correct in saying De La Hoya might be too big and strong for the dashing figure of Mayweather, resoundingly in his prime though he is. Boxing has to have its stars like Mosley challenging the conventional wisdom as it stands. He’s certainly got his own agenda, perhaps he could be so kind as to expound on the true nature of his deepest desires as a boxer. Sure, we know he wants to “keep things simple” and “stay in the kind of routines that make the most sense, are the most effective.” Certainly wise words for aging fighters to live by.
You get the idea that Mosley thinks he might be able to sneak up on people, opponents, the media, boxing insiders and sports fans in general. Sometimes a great notion stems from just carrying on with your sense of priorities, no matter the physical realities of your time, no matter how far others may think you have fallen, no matter if almost no one believes you to be the man you were once famous for being. Champions like Shane Mosley have to renew the legacy of their courage and accomplishments – round by round – one opponent downed becoming the antecedent for the next internal challenge. That’s what it means to be Shane Mosley; the lingering expectation of his best years cling to him, offering fans the titillating possibility that he might again become “Sugar” Shane Mosley, twice conqueror of Oscar De La Hoya, for another brilliant, unforgettable night.
Mosley remembers he was Floyd Mayweather, not so very long ago.
Those names populating the welterweight and jr. middleweight divisions – Floyd Mayweather Jr., Antonio Margarito, Miguel Cotto, Zab Judah, Kermit Cintron, Cory Spinks, Roman Karmazin, Travis Simms, Ike Quartey and of course his old arch nemesis Vernon Forrest and business partner Oscar De La Hoya. No question Mosley has been considering all the possible permutations of that mega list of name opponents, belt holders, ex-champions and A-Listers. Believing on any given night that he can be as good as he’d need to be to win a major fight, Mosley sees his legacy still up for the remaking, the fulfilling.
No wonder Shane Mosley can’t bring himself to retire, so many names representing quantifications of risk-reward for his still perky professional ambition. In his heart of hearts, choosing his words and opponents very carefully, the ever smiling Mosley has designs on sneaking back up into big time prominence. Now is precisely the time to use the accumulated weight of his reputation and star power to insinuate himself into the landscape of big time championship boxing.
As we said earlier, first though, he’s got to get past Luis Collazo – no routine matter – and pick up that WBC welterweight title, that WBC welterweight interim title. So many contingencies and possibilities for yesterday’s pound-for-pound main man Shane Mosley would be a champion again, of sorts, riding a five bout winning streak.
Shane Mosley knows exactly what he needs to do to make his case.
Patrick Kehoe may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org