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Is Shane Mosley All Out of Sugar?
Mar 2, 2004 By Tom Gray
I first laid eyes on Sugar Shane Mosley in his early lightweight days, way before he took the IBF title from Phillip Holiday in 1997. His immense talent was obvious and the famous “Sugar” label seemed apparent immediately.
After eight defenses at lightweight, which were all won by knockout, he decided to vault a division in hot pursuit of Oscar De La Hoya. My initial reaction was that Mosley was chasing the dollar signs that were not available to him against standard opposition. His first two welterweight fights were inconclusive, he seemed easier to hit against Wilfredo Rivera and a KO win over Willy Wise really didn’t prove anything.
Then he got a hold of Oscar. Mosley took De La Hoya to school in the very first round and it seemed as though Oscar was only seeing the challenger’s punches after they landed. The tide turned and De La Hoya took over for the remainder of the opening rounds, only to be out thought and out punched from round seven onwards. Sugar Shane dazzled the crowd and De La Hoya as he put on a master class against his LA rival. Mosley punctuated the victory by rocking De La Hoya to his heels in a great twelfth round and a superstar was born. In my opinion the fight was better than Leonard Vs Hearns for continuous action.
Then there was a change in the script. The new champion failed to take advantage of what was a sensational performance against a Hall of Fame opponent. He made three meaningless title defenses in small venues and was not earning the money which he felt he deserved. Sugar Shane was aware of the problem and signed for a grudge fight against the number one contender, Vernon Forrest. Mosley was regarded by many as the best pound for pound fighter in the world at the time and saw this as a great opportunity to avenge a previous amateur defeat and solidify his standing. Sugar Shane was battered from pillar to post by the challenger and only his heart and conditioning saved him from a knockout. The rematch was a closer contest, but Forrest confirmed his authority, with another decision victory.
After riding so high, Mosley was now lower than ever. Forrest had proved to be a puzzle which was not going to be solved any time soon and Shane was forced to set himself a new target. Who better than Oscar De La Hoya at 154lbs? The Golden Boy had bounced back from defeat with three wins, including a great victory over Fernando Vargas and now held the WBC and WBA titles. Mosley had a poor debut at the new weight class as opponent Raul Marquez was cut by an unintentional clash of heads after three rounds and the fight was declared a no-contest.
Oscar De La Hoya had revenge on his mind and a fight with a previous conqueror was huge box office. Mosley had to win or his career was practically over. The debate over the scoring of this battle will last for decades. I had Oscar a 116-112 winner, he boxed beautifully at times and Mosley looked far too static as he winged huge single shots in desperation. He had Oscar badly hurt in the ninth, but failed to follow up and it looked like a lost cause. When Mosley was announced the winner his face resembled what it might look like if aliens had landed on his porch and started playing jazz.
Fortunately there were enough journalists at ringside who thought that Mosley had won, because he was on the front foot and “threw” the bigger shots. This was said so many times that Shane and his camp started to believe it, but I will never understand the scoring of that fight for as long as I live. I’ve watched it several times, turned the volume down and placed my television on its side, but my opinion remains the same.
Sugar Shane Mosley is now bigger than ever as he awaits a unification fight with Ronald “Winky” Wright in March. However, he is looking past the rival IBF champion and has already begun negotiating a bout with Felix Trinidad, who should return later this year. My concern is that Mosley has not performed well in his last four fights and looks to be on the descent at 154lbs. When you are facing a high quality opponent it is better to take one fight at a time, one punch at a time. Ask Ricardo Mayorga!
There are many who feel that Shane is back to his best, but that is ludicrous and I would urge anyone of that opinion to compare his first fight with De La Hoya to his second, or watch his light weight defence against Demetrio Ceballos, where he was absolutely awesome.
Is Winky at the “Wright” place at the “Wright” time? Something to think about!
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