On July 22, 2001, he sported a perfect record (38-0) and was the reigning WBC welterweight champion and a former IBF lightweight champ.
He never lost fighting as a lightweight, going 32-0 (29). And when the nineties came to a close and during the first and second years of the new century, he fought it out with Roy Jones as to who was the fighter most regarded as the best pound-for-pound fighter in professional boxing.
If all that isn’t enough, how about the fact that along with Pernell Whitaker and Floyd Mayweather, Shane Mosley is in the conversation as to who is the greatest lightweight since Roberto Duran relinquished the title back in 1978 after beating Esteban DeJesus in their rubber match.
Actually, at 135, I think I’d favor Mosley to beat both Whitaker and Mayweather.
There was a time when Mosley 47-9-1 (39) was among the elite of the elite fighters in professional boxing. Shane could do it all in the ring. He could box rugged and aggressive guys, he had the physicality to out-muscle fighters who tried to box him and keep him at center ring. In addition to that, he could throw every punch with speed, power and accuracy… and last but not least, he possessed a cast iron chin. Some will say his defense wasn’t the greatest, but there was a reason for that. And that is, he was always looking to take his opponent’s head off, a la Sugar Ray Leonard. Well, in order to do that a fighter must stand in the danger zone where he can be hit back just as hard and commit to his punches. Shane Mosley never feared fighting in the danger zone and always committed to his punches.
Last week it was announced that Shane, 42, will make another comeback and fight former foe Ricardo Mayorga 31-8-1 (25) in Los Angeles on August 29th in a junior middleweight bout. Mosley and Mayorga, 41, fought back in September of 2008, a bout in which Mosley won via stoppage with one second remaining in the 12th and final round. At the time of the stoppage Mosley was leading on two of the three judges’ cards. In a twist of fate, Mayorga broke onto the big time boxing scene by defeating Vernon Forrest twice, once by stoppage, after Forrest proved to be Mosley’s stumbling block via his back to back decision wins over him. Forrest owned the style match up over Mosley but couldn’t do anything with Mayorga. Yes, styles are almost everything in boxing.
Everyone knows that 1) Mosley is the superior fighter 2) both are shop-worn and not relevant today and 3) the fight and story is really about Mosley’s decline and how he continues to chase a ghost. Not many take Mayorga, who had a couple MMA fights and would probably wrestle an alligator if someone was willing to pay him to do it, seriously. Whereas Mosley was a certifiable great fighter who is the antithesis of Mayweather when it comes to managing your career and picking the right fights. Mosley’s toughness and belief in himself is partly to blame as to why he sometimes took the wrong fights when the risk-reward was seldom in his favor. Remember when Winky Wright challenged Mayweather and was willing to fight at a catch-weight, and then Mayweather said he wanted a 70/30 split? Winky agreed to the split and seven days later Mayweather was a week old ghost. Sadly, Shane was never that judicious.
Today, Mosley has nine losses on his record and is only 1-4-1 in his last six bouts, going back to 2010. His last win came in May of 2013 against Pablo Cesar Cano. Shane hasn’t won a noteworthy bout since he stopped Antonio Margarito during the first month of 2009, and he was an underdog going into that bout. Mosley is/was the type of fighter who was easy to like and root for because he was so tough and skilled, but who was also willing to fight anyone regardless of their record or reputation. The tragedy is, there’s absolutely nothing left physically of the great fighter Mosley used to be. It’s been more than six years since he could fight a full three minute round. His reflexes are totally shot and you can’t miss him with a big shot even if you send him a text indicating what punch you’re sending his way. Sure, he still looks to take his opponents out, but there is nothing left of his punch and he can barely put any semblance of a combination together.
As of this writing, the best anyone can hope is for Mosley to lose to Mayorga and not endure much punishment in the process. Then again if that happens, he may continue to fight. And if he blows Mayorga away, he’ll convince himself that he can be a factor again and continue to fight. Eventually that will once again put him in the ring with a young killer who will seek to make his name by saying that he beat and perhaps stopped Shane Mosley. After the fight maybe Shane will be interviewed and say he had an off night and will promise to retire for good. Only we probably won’t be able to understand what he said. I’m hoping in 10 years he won’t be sitting ringside at a big fight disheveled having us reminisce about the great fighter he once was and saying in passing that it’s a shame he didn’t get out of the sport sooner.
I hope I’m wrong about these maybes and also hope that boxing fans never forget what a great fighting machine Shane was during his prime. The lightweight who compiled a 32-0 (29) record would’ve lived with any lightweight champ in history and perhaps defeated 99% of them.
Let’s not remember him for the late career losses that he’s compiled.
Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com