Four years ago he was the hottest property in boxing; three years ago he was a suppressed superstar; two years ago he was a fallen hero and last year, after a second victory over De La Hoya, he was again a boxing world champion and a reborn force in the sport.
Fast forward to November 2004 and Shane Mosley is a man with the real possibility of registering his fourth loss this weekend, which some say will put a full stop at the end of an underachieving career.
The chronicles of Sugar Shane Mosley are more turbulent than the “O.C.” and unfortunately for the three divisional champion, the better part of the past three years have been more sour than sweet for Sugar Shane.
Despite the odd tantalising and glittering glimpse, the lightning fast hands that took the boxing world by storm don’t seem to operate like they once did. He has won only one of his last four outing (including one no contest) and the ghost of Vernon Forrest still seem to haunt his confidence. Shane’s work ethic has dropped significantly since those losses, he doesn’t throw enough punches to utilise the mesmerising hand speed he possesses and he doesn’t move or create the angles he once did. I don’t want to say Shane Mosley is lazy, BUT since Vernon Forrest shattered his invincibility, Mosley just doesn’t seem to throw as many effective punches anymore. Since Forrest he has looked rusty in every fight bar the second De La Hoya encounter.
Mosley still has the talent. Deep down the old Sugar Shane is waiting to be released, the one that was once compared to the all time greats and held the elitist boxing calling of ‘Sugar’ without one raised eyebrow. I believe that Sugar Shane is still with us, all Mosley has to do is find the will, get dirty and dig down.
Mosley undoubtedly oozes talent, but the question is after twenty years in the game, has Mosley lost the hunger that made him a champion? The multimillion dollar De La Hoya payday got him performing some of his old tricks, but the high risk for low gain fight against Winky Wright left him on the wrong side of a landslide unanimous decision.
At times in this fight Mosley was very impressive, you only have to look at the twelfth round to be reminded of how brilliant he is capable of being when motivated.
While Wrights style isn’t overly exciting, Wright doesn’t have huge power, he doesn’t have fast hands or any major weapons besides his flawless technique, consistency and good work ethic.
Wrights strength are Mosley’s weaknesses. Shane Mosley’s flash is something Wright can not compete with, but Mosley is going to have to take a few risks to work around Wright's effective coming forward approach, something he rarely did in the first meeting between the two. Wright is also an excellent counter puncher, which gave Mosley trouble through his, at times, reckless technique, when he comes in wide open on some of his punches, particularly the left hook. Mosley is going to have to clean this up and tighten up his defence in the rematch, but at the same time leave enough room for him to work some of his offensive flare and exploit Wrights lack of it. It’s a tough balancing act, but something Mosley’s new trainer, Dan Goossen, surely must have weighed up.
Mosley’s father and former trainer, Jack Mosley, developed a style with his son which he called “Power Boxing”. It is a measured technique in which the fighter doesn’t waste punches and looks to save energy to the later round where he can walk over the top of his opponent. It worked beautifully in the De La Hoya fight last year, where he came home much fresher than the ‘Golden Boy’ and stole the fight, and subsequently took home of WBA and WBC junior middleweight world championship belts.
But Oscar De La Hoya is a man famous for failing down the stretch, while Winky Wright is a man whose blue collar pressure and consistency is something boxing purists rate among the best. Different fighters call for different game plans and Jack Mosley was unable to come up with an effective one against Winky Wright. This is one of the key reasons why Dan Goossen, and not Jack Mosley, will be whispering in Shane’s ear this Saturday night.
While it is sad to see one of the more successful father/son teams in boxing split, Shane Mosley clearly needed a fresh start and a different approach after two decades in the sport. It may have ruffled many feathers in the Mosley clan, but if Shane is successful and regains his superstardom in the boxing world on Saturday night, father Mosley may just see the valuable positive in this awkward situation.
The thought of avenging his loss to Wright earlier this year should spark some fire in Mosley, especially after the failed campaign when trying to avenge his first loss to Vernon Forrest. Mosley has something to prove, a large proportion of the visions in the legacy he leaves in boxing will be played out Saturday night on HBO. At 33, his legacy is a something a born and bred boxer like Shane Mosley would definitely have had in the back of his mind throughout his entire training for this fight.
All of boxing’s pin up boys have fallen this year; can Mosley reverse the trend and again climb to superstar status this weekend? You can be sure this is going to be a much closer fight than the first meeting and Winky must be wincing at the prospect of seeing a rejuvenated and reinvented Sugar Shane on Saturday night. When on top of his game, not many can beat Shane Mosley and I don’t think Winky Wright will be able to keep up with Sugar Shane is he recaptures some of his past brilliance.
My prediction for this fight is for Dan Goossen to guide Shane Mosley to his immeasurable capabilities and ultimately to a decision victory over Winky Wright.
If I’m right in that prediction there’s no way I’ll be wrong on my next one; if Mosley gets it right and gets past Wright, there will be two words on everybody’s lips…”Felix Trinidad”.
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