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The Curious Case of Mosley-Clottey

Shane Mosley should be riding high right now. He took his place again near the very tippy top of the boxing world with his January mauling of Antonio Margarito, a stunning performance in which Mosley seemed to turn back the clock, clicking exquisitely with new trainer Naazim Richardson, and barely losing a second of the bout. It was a fight, lest we forget, that Lou DiBella -- promoter for neither man -- had said months earlier was crazy, that if promoters made it happen, Shane would leave "in a pine box."

Mosley's lone 2008 performance was nothing to write home about. Fighting at 154 pounds, he looked lethargic, occasionally lost, and like he was without a gameplan against one-dimensional Ricardo Mayorga. It was a fight Mosley was supposed to dominate, but the always-game Mayorga stayed in there with him for much of the bout. In a flash of brilliance, Mosley ripped Mayorga to pieces in the waning moments of the 12th and final round, knocking the brash Nicaraguan out with just one second to go.

"Shane Mosley, I love you!" came the ringside call from HBO's Larry Merchant. And yes, it was quite a finish. But what about the previous 35 minutes, during which the Hall of Fame-bound Mosley looked every day of his age?

Still, moving back down to 147, Mosley was a live dog against Margarito. Some did pick the upset, but nobody saw it unfolding in such a romp for Mosley. Immediately following the fight, Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer told Mosley he'd try to get him a fight with the "retired" Floyd Mayweather Jr.

And Schaefer did try, but it didn't happen. Before anyone is quick to blame a "scared" Mayweather for not fighting Mosley, do recall that the two have had chances to get it on before, and the most serious came a few years ago, when both were campaigning at 147 pounds. It was Mosley that was blamed for that fight not happening, not Mayweather.

Regardless, with Mayweather not an option, Mosley turned his attention to Manny Pacquiao, after Pacquiao's crushing victory over Ricky Hatton in May. Floyd suddenly returned to the sport the afternoon of the Pacquiao-Hatton match, signing to fight Juan Manuel Marquez in July (which became September). Shortly after, talk of Pacquiao facing Top Rank stablemate Miguel Cotto started, and all was signed, sealed and delivered not much later.

Mosley called out everyone, everyone who was already fighting someone else. They even tried to call Zab Judah, a notorious flake who pulled out of a fight with Mosley last May. No deal.

Fellow welterweight titlist Andre Berto didn't want the fight. It left only one welterweight contender: Joshua Clottey, who had lost a razor-thin decision against Cotto in June, a performance which did more for Clottey than any of his wins ever had.

First Mosley was to fight on December 5, then December 26. OK, good. Site and date cleared with everyone, good to go, but hold on...

HBO doesn't want December 26 now. It's been one thing after another for Mosley since he beat Margarito. First, the fight and Shane's performance were both overshadowed by the huge controversy surrounding Margarito's hand wraps, and it's almost as if Shane didn't even win a fight that night, we merely found out that Margarito is (allegedly) a fraud.

Then no Floyd, no Manny, no Miguel, and no Andre (not that I think Berto's name belongs in that company yet, especially with his recent B.S.)

Now no Clottey? Who's to blame here?

What we know (or at least, what has been reported):

  • HBO gave a green light for Shane Mosley to return on December 5, even without an opponent named.
  • Days later, this was up in the air. When Kelly Pavlik pulled out of an October 3 date with Paul Williams, HBO wanted to reschedule for November 21. Trouble was, Williams' promoter was involved in a big fight in Showtime's Super Six that night (Andre Ward-Mikkel Kessler), and didn't want to essentially run against himself, even with different networks and the fights likely taking place on entirely different sides of the United States. You can't blame Dan Goossen for that at all.
  • HBO settled on Pavlik-Williams for December 5, asking Mosley to push back to December 26. This is what was reported, as HBO was doing it to give Mosley a fight in December, as he really wants to fight before the year is out. It doesn't matter that December 26 and January are basically the same thing, at least in Mosley's mind. He wants a second 2009 fight.
  • Now, HBO is saying they don't want a fight that close to Christmas. Since when? Did they just notice that Christmas was the day before December 26, and think, "Oh man, that might not be a big ratings grab, I guess."

If Mosley-Clottey is called off, Clottey might find himself on the December 5 undercard. Top Rank is involved in the event and Clottey wants to get back out there and fight.

Rumor has it that HBO has also mentioned a January 30 date for a Mosley return, which was also bandied about as a Bernard Hopkins date. Mosley is reportedly not happy with that.

And who would he fight if HBO backs that date down anyway? Clottey could fight December 5. There is still no one out there that's going to fight him. January is too close to the November 14 date for Cotto-Pacquiao, and truth be told, he just is not going to land Mayweather. If Marquez beat Floyd, maybe that could happen, but you're counting on a minor miracle and one of boxing's all-time great upsets.

Berto probably isn't going to change his mind, unless HBO could come up with more money than they've been offering him. He's already beaten Luis Collazo and Collazo isn't a big name. Judah won't fight Matthew Hatton or Antonio Diaz, let alone Shane Mosley for reasonable money.

Is Mosley being hung out to dry here? You could be forgiven for looking at this scenario and thinking that way, and the wrinkle that enters my mind is this: Mosley's never been a draw. We've heard it time and again, and the fact of the matter is, it's the truth. He drew with Oscar (who didn't?) and he drew a good house in L.A. with Margarito (a Mexican hero at the time), but past that, he's never been that superstar-level fighter. And yet he's one of the sport's best, which makes for a rough situation in trying to get guys to fight him, which is risky, for less money than they might want.

Who knows what'll happen? There's still a chance this all gets settled, Shane gets his way, and the December 26 date stands. But if it doesn't, Mosley's in an even tougher spot than he was trying to find an opponent for this date.

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