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Two years ago Golden Boy Promotion’s CEO Richard Schaefer asked what I thought about a fight between Saul “Canelo” Alvarez and Sugar Shane Mosley. In my opinion the Mexican redhead wasn’t ready.
Now, with several veteran fighters’ scalps hanging on his waistband, it seems Mexico’s favorite son has the “ganas” and experience to beat Pomona’s Mosley. Or does he?
WBC junior middleweight titleholder Alvarez (39-0-1, 29 KOs) seeks to prove he can beat the Mexican-beater Mosley (46-7-1, 39 KOs) in the semi-main event on Saturday May 5. The “Ring Kings” match up will be held at the MGM in Las Vegas and televised on HBO pay-per-view.
It could be a reverse Cinco de Mayo should Mosley derail Alvarez’s ascent toward super stardom. The last time someone thought Mosley was done came in 2009 when Mexico’s Antonio Margarito found out otherwise.
Of course Mosley hasn’t had his hand raised in victory since then, but he hasn’t fought a Mexican.
Mosley grew up in the gritty Los Angeles gyms slugging it out with Mexican fighters of all sizes, moustaches and backgrounds. Whether they were reared in East L.A. or came from the center of smoggy Mexico City, the Pomona prizefighter never said “no” to an invitation to fight a Mexican.
“I know how to fight them,” Mosley says.
In the early 1990s it was common to see Mosley lacing up at the Brooklyn Gym located on Cesar Chavez Avenue in Boyle Heights. The open air gym was on a gas station that was converted from a place to work on cars, to a place to work on prizefighters. It was a virtual heaven for boxing lovers.
Where else could you see Julio Cesar Chavez, Oscar De La Hoya and many others battle for free?
Mosley was a regular customer and his ring wars with former junior welterweight world champion Zack “Attack” Padilla and the late Genaro “Chicanito” Hernandez were legendary. These guys would blast each other so mercilessly that some of the concussive blows would make you wince.
Whenever a Mexican prospect arrived they would immediately go to the Brooklyn Gym and there would be Mosley ready to greet them. Whether they were brawlers, body punch artists, elbow throwing experts or proficient head butters the Pomona speedster sparred them all and gained not just their respect, but valuable inside knowledge on the art of beating a Mexican prizefighter.
“You could say I fought a lot of Mexicans over the years,” says Mosley with a chuckle. “I know their style.”
Alvarez comes with a hybrid form of modern Mexican prizefighting that encompasses more defensive technique and boxing rather than straight out brawling. But let’s face it, not many Mexicans make it to the top without a willingness to fight toe-to-toe. It’s the Mexican way.
The virtual kid from Guadalajara has shown a great instinct for utilizing his perfect timing to catch foes in between punches. That timing has elevated him to a simple fighter with strength to the current undefeated 154-pound prizefighter. Can he catch Mosley in between blows?
“I've learned a lot. How he punches and how he counter punches, his movements and everything. I've adapted it to my own style, but I've learned a lot from Shane Mosley,” said Alvarez, 21, about studying Mosley’s style over the years. “We admire him. It's an honor for me to be fighting him, but once I step into the ring, that all goes out the window.”
Mosley, 40, doesn’t have the quickness of feet that he possessed when he fought Oscar De La Hoya in 2000 and 2003. Nor does he have the incredible stamina that allowed him to win last minute knockouts over Wilfredo Rivera and Ricardo Mayorga. But his hand speed is still there for at least five or six rounds. Will that be enough?
“I fought Mosley and everyone knows what happened,” said De La Hoya who lost twice by decision in 2000 and 2003. “You can never count out Sugar Shane.”
Big Bear Lake
Both Alvarez and Mosley trained a block away from each other in Big Bear Lake and smiled when asked about it.
“This is about the third or fourth time I trained so close to my next opponent,” said Mosley. “I was training in the same gym as Vernon Forrest, Antonio Diaz. And when I fought Oscar De La Hoya and Fernando Vargas they were just around the corner too. It doesn’t matter.”
De La Hoya, president Golden Boy Promotions, said the winner can expect a bigger prize.
“You can either face the winner of Andre Berto/Victor Ortíz or you can face the winner of Floyd Mayweather/Miguel Cotto. So, this is a very important fight,” De La Hoya said.
Fights on television
Fri. Fox, 8 p.m., Daniel Ponce de Leon (42-4) vs. Eduardo Lazcano (24-2).
Sat. ESPN2, 5 p.m., Demetrius Andrade (16-0) vs. Rudy Cisneros (12-3).
Sat. Fox, 5 p.m., Nate Diaz (15-7) vs. Jim Miller (21-3).
Sat. HBO pay-per-view, 6 p.m., Floyd Mayweather (42-0) vs. Miguel Cotto (37-2); Saul Alvarez (39-0-1) vs. Shane Mosley 46-7-1); Jessie Vargas (18-0) vs. Steve Forbes (35-10); Deandre Latimore (23-3) vs. Carlos Quintana (28-3).
Who's the best Mexican boxer today?