Shane Mosley's 19-year career was filled with highlights, big fights, and memorable moments. (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
Last night, it was reported that Sugar Shane Mosley had decided to retire from boxing at age 40. His decision came "too late," if anything, as his May 5 beating at the hands of Canelo Alvarez wasn't pretty, and just continued a downward spiral which sees the once-great Mosley bow out of his career with an 0-3-1 mark in his last four fights.
But Mosley also showed something in that fight that had been lacking in his three previous bouts: True determination. Though the Sugar Shane of old was long gone, as he no longer had speed or much punching power, it was a performance filled with grit and heart, one that allows him to go out knowing he gave his best that last time, that he was prepared, and left it in the ring despite the one-sided loss.
It was hard to say he'd "left it in the ring" in the previous bouts. Mosley earned boos for his 2011 loss to Manny Pacquiao, in which he seemed to avoid contact at all costs after the fight settled into a predictable rhythm. His 2010 draw with Sergio Mora was an awful fight (Shane Mosley didn't have many of those). And his 2010 loss to Floyd Mayweather went from edge-of-your-seat potential in round two to a depressing wipeout by round eight or so.
Let's take a look back at the tremendous career of Sugar Shane Mosley.
Shane Mosley turned pro in 1993, after a strong amateur career that saw him rack up a reported record of 250-16. He was the U.S. Amateur champion at lightweight (132 lbs) in 1989 and 1990 and at light welterweight (139 lbs) in 1992, and won silver at the World Junior Championships in '89 and bronze at the Goodwill Games in '90. He was beaten in the Olympic trials in 1992 by Vernon Forrest. The two would meet again later.
He started his pro career as a lightweight on February 11, 1993, in Hollywood, California. He became a regular at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood early in his career, and dominated the limited opposition he faced for the first four years of his career, almost all of it fought in California.
Mosley got his first world title shot on August 2, 1997, facing unbeaten IBF lightweight titlist Philip Holiday in Uncasville, Connecticut. Holiday had fought most of his career in his native South Africa, but had taken a trip in 1996 to Australia, where he beat Jeff Fenech and retired the Aussie star.
Coming in at 23-0 with 22 knockouts, Mosley was a rising star. But Holiday, 27, was no pushover himself, and was a big step up in class for the young Mosley.
On the HBO broadcast, Larry Merchant and Roy Jones Jr wondered aloud whether or not Mosley's lack of rounds would be a factor in the fight, as he hadn't gone over four rounds in three years, laying waste to all of his opponents early.
The fight was a wake-up call to Mosley, as he learned that not all opponents would be so easy as his first 23. In a fight that wasn't exactly blistering, and drew boos from the crowd at the Mohegan Sun, Mosley won his first major title on scores of 117-111, 116-113, and 115-114. Mosley, a month shy of his 26th birthday, learned a lot in that fight, and it was a turning point for him.
Sugar Shane didn't disappoint going forward. At the end of the Holiday fight, Roy Jones said he felt that Mosley would make up for any shortcomings in his next few fights, and he did. Mosley defended the title successfully against Manuel Gomez, Demetrio Ceballos, John John Molina, Wilfredo Ruiz, Eduardo Morales, Jesse James Leija (pictured), Golden Johnson, and John Brown.
Every fight saw Mosley stop his opponent, generally after a dominant performance. As a lightweight, he was a wrecking ball. He had speed, power, a subtly awkward attack, and the pure skills to overwhelm most opponents. The somewhat flat performance against Holiday was a reality check, and Shane took it properly, becoming a better fighter because he was tested in some ways, and shown that he couldn't simply walk over good fighters. He would have to earn it.
With eight successful defenses of his lightweight belt through April 1999, there were calls for Sugar Shane to move up in weight to face Oscar De La Hoya, boxing's biggest non-heavyweight attraction and arguably the sport's most popular fighter at the time. The two were SoCal rivals, Mosley from Pomona and De La Hoya from East Los Angeles. While De La Hoya had won gold at the '92 Olympics and become a superstar, Mosley was a somewhat more blue collar fighter. He wasn't royalty, just damn good. Oscar had the crown, but many felt Mosley could be the man to take it from him.
Mosley didn't jump straight from lightweight to Oscar, though, instead wisely opting to get himself used to the weight with a pair of tune-ups. In September 1999, he faced veteran Wilfredo Rivera, a three-time former title challenger whose only losses had come to Pernell Whitaker (two controversial decisions in 1996) and Oscar (1997).
The weight wasn't easy for Shane right away. Rivera was a tough out for Mosley, who struggled with the Puerto Rican into the 10th and final round. Going into the round, scores from the ringside judges were 88-83 and 86-85 for Mosley, and 86-85 for Rivera. Then in the tenth, Mosley decided not to leave it up to the judges, and went for the win. He scored with a good left hand that rattled Rivera's cage a little bit, and moments later floored him on a left uppercut, ending the fight at an official time of 2:38 of the tenth round. Mosley would have won the fight on a majority decision anyway, assuming it had gone to the cards with 10-9 Mosley across the board in that round, but he scored the exciting knockout late, and made it a more impressive victory.
Mosley faced Willy Wise after that, something of a step back from Rivera, but Wise came in with a win over the badly faded Julio Cesar Chavez in his last fight, so he had that going for him. Mosley stopped Wise in three.
The main event was on: June 17, 2000, in Los Angeles at Staples Center. De La Hoya vs Mosley.
The fight was hyped to death. "Destiny," it was called on the fight poster, one of only two that I have hanging in my office (the other is Barrera-Morales I). From a personal standpoint, I was 18 years old when this fight took place, just blossoming into a serious boxing fan. I loved sports then as I do now -- baseball, football, basketball, golf, tennis, hockey, soccer (I know, international readers, I know), MMA, NASCAR. I've got at least a passing interest in pretty much every sport there is. But there were a few fights that helped turn me from "guy who keeps track of boxing" to "guy who can't stand to miss a fight." De La Hoya vs Mosley was one of those.
It's not so much that it was a great fight, which it was. The passionate, vocal crowd, for two supremely talented, in-prime fighters going toe-to-toe, is not something we see all that often. It lived up to the hype, maybe even exceeded it. Fights like that one having lived up to the hype are the reason that I can get through so many that don't and still care as much the next day as I did the day before, when the hype was still with me.
Both men entered the 12 round battered and physically spent. They'd given everything they had in them. Two fights prior to the Mosley bout, De La Hoya had seen his undefeated record go poof when he chose to get on his bike to protect a supposed big lead against Felix Trinidad, and Trinidad wound up winning a controversial decision. Oscar learned then that in a fight like this, no lead can ever truly be assumed, not that he ever should had the thought in this one that he'd built a big lead.
Back and forth they went over 11 rounds. That 12th round was a phenomenal effort. The two fighters came in respecting one another, but by the time that final bell sounded, you knew and could see two men who had earned further respect from the other man.
They got wild. They threw the big punches. They went balls to the wall. "Both of them daring to be great," said Larry Merchant. In the end, Mosley won a split decision on scores of 116-112, 115-113, and 113-115, capturing the WBC welterweight title, his second belt in as many weight classes. In his 35th pro fight, against the best opponent of his career, Shane Mosley rose to the occasion and gave not only a great fight, but won yet again.
Mosley followed the win over De La Hoya with successful title defenses against Antonio Diaz (TKO-6), Shannan Taylor (TKO-6), and Adrian Stone (KO-3). By that point, Mosley was considered by the pound-for-pound best fighter in the sport, topping the Ring Magazine lists in 2000 and 2001.
But in 2002, an old foe lurked: Vernon Forrest, who had beaten Mosley to make the 1992 Olympic team. Forrest, 33-0 as a pro, hadn't been given many breaks. When he got to Barcelona in '92, he came down with food poisoning and lost his first round bout in a stunner. He actually turned pro a few months before Mosley did, but just never got that same star push.
A six-foot tall welterweight, Forrest was, with the benefit of hindsight, pure danger from the moment the fight was signed. He was fast, strong, tall, athletic, and avoided. Though he'd won the vacant IBF title against Raul Frank, and had beaten a few other decent fighters, he didn't have Mosley's big-stage experience.
It didn't matter. On the HBO broadcast, Larry Merchant had one of his more prophetic moments just before the fight got underway: "Some fighters over history have just had the stuff to beat fighters who were considered better. Ken Norton gave Ali trouble, Iran Barkley gave Tommy Hearns trouble, Junior Jones beat Barrera twice. You wonder if Vernon Forrest is going to be that for Shane Mosley."
Halfway into the second round, Forrest blasted Mosley with an absolute monster of a right hand, and Mosley was battered around with a few more shots before finally falling to the canvas. Somehow, even though he didn't tie up and Forrest went for the kill, Sugar Shane survived the round on jelly legs, suffering another knockdown late in the round because he just couldn't keep himself up. He walked to the wrong corner.
It may have seemed likely that Mosley wasn't long for the fight. Instead, he lasted all 12, though he was never really in it. His "0" was gone, and Forrest's remained. He was pound-for-pound kingpin no longer. "The Viper" won on scores of 117-108, 117-108, and 115-110.
Six months later, they did it again. Determined to avenge his defeat, Mosley made what may have been an unwise career choice by facing a man that it seemed simply had his number, pretty much right after losing to him, and losing badly. He didn't go out looking for a tune-up. He went right after Vernon Forrest.
Mosley came out roaring, and so did Forrest, with both guys hitting the Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis looking for a knockout performance. As the fight wore on, it just seemed as though Mosley couldn't do enough to deter Vernon Forrest, couldn't really hurt him, and just plain could not beat him. Forrest won again, this time on scores of 115-113, 116-112, and 117-111.
That was enough for Shane Mosley at welterweight, and he took his act north to the 154-pound division, with another familiar name waiting in the wings.
Junior Middleweight 2003-06
By the time Shane Mosley moved up to junior middleweight to face Raul Marquez, he had been a pro for 10 years. He was 31 years old, no longer a young man in the boxing game. With back-to-back losses to Forrest, it could have been figured that Mosley had passed his prime, and that the move up to 154 was the first step of him easing into the final stage of his career.
As it turned out, it was the first step of the second half of his career. The Marquez bout was put together so that Mosley could make a case that he was worth more than the $4.25 million he was offered to face Oscar De La Hoya again in September 2003. Unfortunately, the fight with Marquez ended in the third round, a no-contest ruled due to cuts on Marquez caused by a pair of headbutts, one of which was Mosley's fault, the other Marquez's.
Mosley considered balking at the De La Hoya rematch, but of course, it wound up happening on September 13, 2003. Like the first fight, it was close and competitive. But the rematch was not the equal of the first fight in any way. De La Hoya boxed smarter, with Mosley often in the role of aggressor, even when it wasn't particularly effective aggression.
For the second time, Mosley defeated the "Golden Boy," this time on scores of 115-113 across the board. Many felt De La Hoya deserved the win, and HBO made it out as though Oscar had been grossly robbed. Oscar and promoter Bob Arum (remember that?) teamed up with a rather hilarious post-fight campaign, promising a full investigation of the misdeeds, because we all know judges protect the guy paid $4 million and not the guy paid three times that, and even threatened to both leave boxing. In the end, they did nothing.
Years later, though, Mosley's second win over De La Hoya was tainted in a very real sense. During the BALCO investigations, Mosley gave a grand jury testimony declaring his innocence after accusations of doping for the fight. In 2007, it was revealed that Mosley did dope for the fight, using EPO, THG, and testosterone as part of an extensive BALCO regimen.
Mosley never really admitted wrongdoing, but did admit to taking the drugs, with a plea of ignorance as to what they were, which is familiar when athletes are caught in these cases. Though it hasn't been a true black cloud over his career, it's not something one can ignore, either. Since the truth was revealed years after the fight, Mosley was fortunate that it never really did cause any serious damage to his earning power. By the time it all came to light, Mosley was on the back end of his career, anyway, and it was too late to start "punishing" him or past sins. By then, he was a major star for De La Hoya's promotional company, too.
After the win over De La Hoya, Mosley afforded Winky Wright -- who also retired this week -- an opportunity at his new WBC, WBA, and IBF junior middleweight titles. Wright, a southpaw defensive genius who hadn't been given many chances due to his style, quality, and lack of flair or star power, was the underdog, but many in diehard boxing circles did feel as though the technically sound, mistake-free approach of Wright could be trouble for Mosley.
Winky, it turned out, was all wrong for Sugar Shane, and the well-traveled veteran shocked boxing's casual fans if not many of the diehards who smelled the upset brewing. He more or less schooled Mosley that night in Las Vegas, lifting the three titles on scores of 117-111, 117-111, and 116-112. Nobody argued. Winky Wright, a guy who had been forced to fight a large portion of his career overseas for a number of reasons, was just better than Shane Mosley that night.
Like he had done after losing to Forrest, Mosley went for the rematch straight away. In November 2004, eight months after their first fight, the two met again at the Mandalay Bay. This time around, Mosley did fight a bit better, and that was reflected in the scores somewhat. But Mosley needed to be a lot better to get the win, and that didn't happen. He lost again, this time by majority decision (115-113, 115-113, 114-114).
After a short break, Mosley considered a move back down to welterweight. He was small at junior middleweight, and his punches just didn't have the same power. His speed wasn't the factor it used to be. Part of that, too, was his age, but the extra seven pounds on the scales weren't helping him any.
He did a couple of fights with 148-pound catchweights, beating David Estrada and Jose Luis Cruz. The next money offer he got, though, didn't come at 147 pounds, but once again at junior middleweight. Another star of the generation wanted a piece of Shane Mosley: Fernando Vargas, a relentless Mexican brawler both loved and hated in the boxing fan world, was stepping up to the plate.
Mosley answered the call, meeting Vargas in February 2006. During the course of the battle, which was a struggle for both men, an enormous hematoma developed around the left eye of Vargas, swelling it shut. Though Vargas was in the fight through the nine rounds that were scored (86-85 on two cards for "Feroz," 86-85 for Mosley on the third), the bout was stopped in the 10th round and ruled a TKO victory for Mosley due to the grotesque swelling.
After the fight, Vargas complained constantly about the swelling having been caused not by punches, but by headbutts. Few took him seriously, as it was apparent that punches were the cause of the injury. Still, the fight had been a hit business-wise, was entertaining to watch, and now there was a grudge. Mosley signed for a rematch in July.
The second time around, Mosley left no doubt, no arguments, no controversy. Over five rounds, Mosley sorely outclassed Vargas and beat the hell out of the Oxnard brawler, and then stopped him in the sixth.
Return to Welterweight: 2007
Mosley was hoping to return to welterweight after the first Vargas fight, and then did so after the rematch. He didn't look for an easy return to the weight, facing tricky, crafty southpaw Luis Collazo in February 2007. Collazo was expected to give Mosley a tough test, but the fight wound up one-sided and easy for the veteran Mosley when Collazo suffered a hand injury rather early in the fight.
Instead of a challenge, Mosley essentially got a tune-up, winning on scores of 119-108, 118-109, and 118-109. The welterweight division at the time was hot. Floyd Mayweather was the true champion of the weight class, but unbeaten Miguel Cotto, Paul Williams, Antonio Margarito, Joshua Clottey, and others were out there. It wasn't long before Mosley signed to face the unbeaten Cotto, who held the WBA welterweight title.
Cotto, a popular Puerto Rican star in New York, had home field advantage at Madison Square Garden as Mosley made his first-ever appearance in the building that was once big-time boxing's home.
Cotto, 30-0 and the younger, fresher man, having just turned 27, was favored going into the fight, but by razor-thin margins. Cotto had torn through the junior welterweight division for the most part, and at welterweight, had beaten Carlos Quintana, Oktay Urkal, and Zab Judah. But Judah's speed and experience did keep him in the fight with Cotto, and many figured that Mosley, who was better and bigger than Judah, could be that step too far.
Now 36, Mosley proved capable of hanging in with a top young fighter, as the two put on a crowd-pleasing battle in MSG. It seemed that every time one man had gotten the advantage, the other came back at him and evened the score again. Mosley was strong enough that he was able to get Cotto, then a fearsome stalker with a killer body attack, moving backwards to avoid the charges of the older man.
In the end, Cotto nicked the decision on scores of 115-113, 115-113, and 116-113. Mosley, even getting older, still had it, and gave Cotto all he could handle that night in a top-flight battle between elite-level talents.
With the benefit of hindsight now, I think we can say that the Cotto fight was the last time we truly saw Sugar Shane Mosley. A long break followed that epic, and Mosley returned in September 2008 for a move back to 154 pounds, which came in part simply because he had to fight somebody, and there was no one for him at 147 right then, or at least no one they wanted to face.
The Decline and Fall: 2008-12
Once again, Mosley squared off with one of the more notable, famous fighters of his era, as he took on rugged Nicaraguan trash talker Ricardo Mayorga. After Mosley's two losses to Vernon Forrest in 2002, it was the then-lightly regarded Mayorga who came along and stunned the boxing world, scoring back-to-back wins over Forrest.
Mayorga peaked with the first Forrest fight, really, and though tough and a generally a lot of fun to watch, his career had been up-and-down ever since. Following the wins over Forrest, Mayorga lost to Cory Spinks, which started a familiar pattern: Mayorga would beat mediocre opponents, and lose when he stepped up in class. He lost to Spinks, beat Eric Mitchell, lost badly to Tito Trinidad, beat Michele Piccirillo, and then got his ass kicked by De La Hoya in 2006. He followed that with a win over Fernando Vargas, with both men fighting very heavy at a 164-pound catchweight, mostly because they didn't like each other.
Mosley didn't seem himself in the Mayorga fight. He was sloppy, lazy, and seemed lost in his own thoughts at times. Mayorga by this point was a purely one-dimensional brawler with no skill whatsoever, who survived in the ring on toughness and a big right hand, and got into the bigger fights because he knew how to sell anything with his controversial mouth.
After 11 rounds, which could be described as Mosley occasionally remember where he was and dominating, followed by Mosley going flat and losing focus, giving away some rounds to an inferior fighter, Mosley led by scores of 107-102, 105-104, and 104-105. Given how mediocre Mayorga had become by then, the fact that Ricardo could have forced a draw by winning the 12th round is kind of astounding. To this day, Mayorga still hasn't beaten a truly good opponent since 2003, when he topped Forrest in their rematch.
But Sugar Shane turned it on in the 12th round, knocking Mayorga down late. With five seconds left on the clock, the referee let Mayorga continue, and Mosley walked in and finished him off with a left hook. At 2:59 of the 12th round, Shane Mosley knocked out Ricardo Mayorga.
"Shane Mosley," Larry Merchant exclaimed, "I love you!"
The performance, though, was not impressive. Less than two months later, Mosley fired his father Jack Mosley as trainer, eventually hiring the respected Naazim Richardson. A return to welterweight was again in order, as Mosley had been tapped to face Antonio Margarito, who had crushed Miguel Cotto in July 2008.
Prior to Mosley-Mayorga, Margarito-Mosley sounded like a mouth-watering prospect. After the fight, it sounded like a potential slaughter. Promoter Lou DiBella, who had no dog in the race, said that if Mosley fought Margarito, they'd take Shane out "in a pine box."
After some start-and-stop negotiations that saw the fight at one point called off, Margarito and Mosley signed to meet in 2009. It wound up one of boxing's biggest stories and scandals in recent memory.
Shane Mosley beat the living crap out of Antonio Margarito. A few thought he was a live dog in the fight, maybe a scattered few gamblers thought he'd win the fight due to the styles, but I don't think anyone figured he would beat Margarito to a pulp and embarrass the rugged Mexican en route to a ninth round stoppage, which saw the corner's towel fly in at the same time that referee Raul Caiz Sr had decided he'd seen enough.
Mosley had an air about him that night that was special. He was cocky. He had a look of a man disrespected, disgusted, and totally pissed off about being counted out by so many people. I did a two-part preview for that fight entitled, "Does Shane Mosley Have a Prayer?" I concluded that of course he had some hope -- he was Shane Mosley, three-division titleholder, Hall of Famer-to-be, and always dangerous. Like Margarito, his chin was tremendous and had never really been dented. But I also concluded that Margarito was a major favorite for a reason: Shane was old, didn't look good against Mayorga, and Margarito had earned the favorite's role with his Terminator-like win over Cotto.
The story on the night was the fight, the performance of Mosley, who battered Margarito from pillar to post until the Mexican could take no more. It was jaw-dropping stuff. Totally unbelievable. An aging fighter had been reborn.
The story quickly, however, became about the confiscated wraps taken off of Margarito before the fight. Eventually, Margarito had his license revoked by the California commission.
Looking back now, Mosley may have benefited from some smoke and mirrors. There's no way Margarito was 100% focused going into the ring, not after what had happened in the locker room. There had been reports of him struggling to make the weight, too. Either way, Mosley destroyed him, and was back in the mix for all the biggest fights.
Instead of fighting, though, he sat out the remainder of 2009. He signed for a fight with Andre Berto, which was to take place in January 2010, but that fell through when Berto pulled out of the fight after an earthquake devastated Haiti, where Berto had family.
Mosley then set his sights on the biggest fish: Floyd Mayweather. The two sides put the fight together quickly, and a dream bout that had been brewing for years was finally coming in May 2010.
Mosley gave up his title after Mayweather didn't want to pay WBA sanctioning fees, but wisely took the fight anyway. It was a big-time shot on a big-time stage, one of the true events of the calendar year. And Mosley almost pulled off a shocking upset.
In the second round, Mosley whacked Mayweather with a right hand that buckled Floyd's knees and had the fans at the MGM Grand and those watching around the world on the edge of their seats, or totally out of them and on their feet. Mayweather was dazed, rocked, stung, buzzed -- whatever you want to call it, Shane Mosley had found him with a big right hand. Mayweather held on, survived the round, and then, the real fight took shape.
After the dicey second round, it was all Floyd Mayweather. Over the rest of the fight, he was too quick, too strong, too accurate, and too good for Mosley. He routed him, handing Mosley by far the worst, most one-sided loss of his professional career. By the later rounds, Mosley was despondent, and Naazim Richardson couldn't get through to him in the corner. His eyes were vacant, his body wasn't responding. He tried to tap gloves and hug Mayweather. Floyd would have none of it.
Mosley lost on scores of 119-109, 119-109, and 118-110. That second round right hand bomb was about all he had done in the fight. Mayweather was far too good for him. It didn't answer what might have happened has they met earlier in their careers, but it certainly showed us the better man in 2010.
There was some mild speculation that Mosley might retire then at age 38, but instead he chose to go back up to 154 pounds for a bout with former "Contender" winner Sergio Mora, who had limited success in boxing outside of the reality show. "The Latin Snake" was known for his style, and not for good reasons.
The fight wound up a true dud. Mosley had trouble finding the elusive Mora, who didn't offer much by way of offense. It was just 11 days after Mosley had turned 39, fighting Mora on Mexican Independence weekend, a traditional big fight Saturday in the States and Mexico, and he looked every bit his age. He was twitchy, couldn't pull the trigger, and couldn't get a beat on Mora.
Three ringside judges scored it 116-112 Mosley, 115-113 Mora, and 114-114, a draw. It was the first and only draw of Mosley's career, and given that the show was a business flop and a stinker in the entertainment department, it figured that Shane Mosley's days as a main event, big-time talent were finally over, 17 and a half years after his pro debut.
Instead, Mosley left Golden Boy Promotions for a one-fight deal with rival Top Rank, and to the groans of many, he was hand-picked to face Manny Pacquiao in May 2011. The event had a far bigger impact on the business of boxing than it did anything else, as Top Rank taking Pacquiao vs Mosley to Showtime PPV is cited by many as the final straw that got Ross Greenburg fired as head of HBO Sports.
Pacquiao dominated Mosley over 12 rounds, and the performance was in no way attractive. The fight stunk, to the point that James Brown, a CBS Sports mainstay who had worked the fight as an on-camera host, used his few minutes to wrap up the broadcast at the end of the night to basically express his disgust with the fight, the fighters, the promoters who sold the predictable mismatch, and the sport of boxing.
After the fight, Mosley's public image took a hit when he jumped onto an absurd and obviously bogus story posted online about Pacquiao using steroids, but he quickly attempted to distance himself from that, and went silent for a while.
It was worth wondering if we'd see Mosley in the ring again. His last fight had been awful, the third straight lousy performance of his career. But just a few months back, he was once again signed up to fight. This time, he was back with Golden Boy, to face 21-year-old Mexican phenom Canelo Alvarez at 154 pounds.
Most expected Mosley, now 40, to lose handily, The oddsmakers figured the same. A few held on to the notion that Mosley would win the fight, citing Alvarez's lack of experience, or just the fact that they felt he was overhyped.
Mosley gave a great effort. He truly came to win. He was in shape (though he initially missed weight by a bit). He had no issues with pre-fight injuries in camp or anything of the sort. He was as prepared as a 40-year-old version of Sugar Shane Mosley could have been.
Mosley just wasn't good enough anymore. Frankly, he wasn't close to good enough. Canelo took advantage of Mosley in every way. Shane didn't have enough power, so Canelo walked through his shots. Shane's reflexes were gone, so Canelo was able to hit him pretty much at will. All he had left was determination and the ability to take a good shot. Both were on full display.
The final scores of Shane Mosley's career read 119-109, 119-109, and 118-110, all for Canelo Alvarez.
Shane Mosley is one of my favorite fighters. Along with Roy Jones Jr and Erik Morales (the reason for that other poster being Barrera-Morales I), he is one of the three fighters most responsible for turning me into a boxing junkie.
Over the last year or so, I've been adamant about the fact that Mosley should retire. I gave him no chance against Pacquiao, no chance against Alvarez. Both dominated him. It was the Mora fight that sealed the deal for me: I just didn't want to see Shane Mosley fight again. I didn't see the need to watch him get in the ring, so clearly past his best.
Sometimes folks talk about fighters tainting their legacies. I don't think this happens by way of wins and losses. It can only happen, in my estimation, if a fighter somehow becomes truly less than he was, not just physically, because that happens to everyone, but if he loses his audience's respect. There was, to be honest, some sign of that after the Pacquiao fight, where Mosley ran and just didn't look like a guy there to win, but more to collect a paycheck.
With the Alvarez fight, though it wasn't really any closer than the Pacquiao fight, Shane Mosley leaves more on his terms. Mosley knew he wasn't any good against Pacquiao. Mosley heard the boos in the MGM Grand, heard the criticisms from around the boxing world. Maybe he would have gone out with the loss to Manny had it been just a little different than it was. Not if he had been more competitive, really, but if it had been a performance to be proud of, to be respected.
Maybe more than looking to beat Canelo Alvarez last month, Shane Mosley needed that fight to let go of it all, to leave boxing with his head held high, win or lose. Maybe he needed the sort of final fight he could respect and accept as the end of the line, knowing he'd put his heart into it one last night.
When the Hall of Fame voters look over his resume in a few years, they're going to note the names he fought: Oscar De La Hoya (twice), Floyd Mayweather, Miguel Cotto, Manny Pacquiao, Winky Wright (twice), Vernon Forrest (twice), Antonio Margarito, Fernando Vargas (twice), and many other quality fighters along the way over his 19-year pro career.
They might also note that Mosley went 0-4 against Forrest and Wright, two guys nobody else was exactly dying to fight at the times Mosley gave them a shot.
That bad night against Pacquiao shouldn't even be considered when trying to think of the legacy of Shane Mosley, not really anyway. I no more judge Mosley on that night than I would judge Ken Griffey Jr's career based on his anemic final 33 games with the Mariners in 2010. Griffey stepped away. Mosley could have, maybe should have, but came back to try and at least set the record a little bit straight: Shane Mosley was a fighter, not a runner.
There is also the BALCO situation to consider. I don't know how you really look at that in an overall career, same as I'm not really sure how you look at Margarito's wraps scandal in an overall career. They're not the same situation, but both are things that hang some doubt over what we think we know, or thought we knew. Someone smarter than me can worry about that -- I readily admit I don't know how you really attack that issue in the legacy discussion.
Shane Mosley had the style I most love to watch. He mixed tremendous skills with a reckless, "warrior" style of fighting. If you hit him, he came back at you. He was never good defensively, really, but he was good enough to generally get by. He had a granite chin, hard as a rock, and though he was hurt in his career, and knocked down, nobody ever stopped. Vernon Forrest came closest, by far.
As a lightweight, he was a powder keg, pure dynamite. During his early days at welterweight, he was still ferocious. And he made a long, lasting career after he started to slip, because of his ability to take shots and his ability to dish out punishment. Even against Mayweather, he damn near turned boxing on its head with pure muscle.
The older I get, the less likely I am to "fall in love" with fighters the way I did Shane, Roy, and "El Terrible," or several others. I see them now more for what they are, so to speak, extraordinary men in many respects, but men like the rest of us in many ways, too. I'll probably never encounter a fighter that I take to the way I took to Shane Mosley, because I'm not a teenager who overlooks so many things anymore. I look at the flaws. I consider the upside. I wonder how they'd do against certain types of opponents.
When I came across Shane Mosley, he could do no wrong in my eyes. I naively, foolishly figured he'd never lose. You can do that when you're a kid. You can put unreasonable expectations on a fighter. But he did lose eventually, and he lost clean, fair, and square, every time he lost. He handled that with the same dignity he had when he scored big-time wins that made him a boxing star and one of the standout fighters of a generation.
As a fan, I'm happy that Shane Mosley has made the decision to retire. It was time to hang it up, which Shane acknowledged after the fight with Alvarez a month ago. He's someone I'll talk about when I'm an old man. I'm sure by then, I'll be bitching that they just don't make fighters like Shane Mosley anymore.