The Sweetening of Shane Mosley By JD Camacho (April 15, 2010) Doghouse Boxing
Sugar Shane Mosley is a future hall-of-famer. Of that, there is no question. But does his name live up to the Sugars of old, the great stylists Sugar Ray Robinson and Sugar Ray Leonard?
“When I was kid, they would announce [my name], ‘Sugar Shane Mosley!’” Mosley told HBO in 2007. “They knew that when they would see me spar or fight, that there was something special about me. It wasn’t hard to live up to the name at all, knowing that every time out, I’m gonna give my 100% all. The name just fit me.”
Is that enough, though to just have a special quality, and to just give your 100% all?
Among the 1980s legends of Leonard, Thomas Hearns, Marvin Hagler, and Roberto Duran, only Leonard earned a victory over the other three. Those victories punctuated what writer Pete Hamill called “the last Golden Age of boxing.”
“We should remember Ray Robinson because he was the one perfect fighter,” late journalist Jack Newfield told HBO in 1998. “He was an American original, a genius at his art form.”
Ruling a “Golden Age” and being called “perfect” require more than simply some talent coupled with some effort.
Yes, Shane Mosley has accomplished much since turning pro in 1993. He has defeated nine current or former major world titlists, amassed a head-turning (and face-smashing) eight-defense streak at lightweight (all by knockout), collected four major title belts in three weight classes, and fought perhaps as many as three fellow future hall-of-famers. In addition to that, Mosley has twice won recognition as the welterweight champion once, as a 13-5 underdog, and then again almost a decade later, as a 4-1 underdog.
However, his saccharine counterparts also accomplished much. Leonard fought six current hall-of-famers and defeated four of them. The two he failed against came in his last two fights. And of the four he defeated, they all offered very, very different styles. Against Hagler, Leonard captured the undisputed middleweight crown in his first fight at 160, following a five-year period where he fought a single time. Meanwhile Robinson, after claiming the undisputed welterweight title, won the undisputed middleweight title five times and fought eleven hall-of-famers, earning victories over ten.
Beyond the mere numbers and statistics, the actual quality of fighters just in Leonard and Robinson’s win columns may far exceed the quality on the entirety of Mosley’s ledger. Leonard and Robinson sit on the highest shelf in boxing’s pantry. As of now, Mosley does not.
Luckily for him and for fight fans, Mosley has the opportunity to sweeten his name before it’s enshrined in Canastota. According to RING Magazine, ESPN, and any other widely read boxing source, the top two boxers in the world at any weight are Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather, Jr. Both fighters reside in Mosley’s weight class.
Great fighters must often try to prove their greatness against other greats. Leonard did it against Benitez and Duran and Hearns and Hagler and again and again, even when he should have stopped. Robinson did it for a quarter century during one of boxing’s most productive and competitive periods.
On May 1st Mosley has the chance, against Floyd Mayweather, to gain one half of the sweetener needed to put his name on the shelf next to the other Sugars. If he wins, he may get the chance to fight for the other half. And if he defeats Pacquiao, too, the Sugar before Shane’s name will be more than an homage.
It’ll be an honor.
-Speaking of Mosley, the first part of Mayweather Mosley 24/7 was entertaining enough. Interesting that Floyd mocks the timeliness of Shane’s pseudo jheri-curl when he himself sports a bald-head a la 80s great Marvin Hagler…
-And speaking of 24/7, let’s not praise SHO’s Fight Camp 360 too much. Sure, SHO’s product is more documentary than infomercial, but they’ve only had five episodes. Those episodes premiere, at best, on a monthly basis. And SHO creators have six fighters with six entourages to work with. HBO’s 24/7 series fashions drama with a mere two fighters over the course of four short weeks. If HBO had as much material to work with as SHO, we’d probably see less fluff than we already do…
-Andre Berto impressed against Carlos Quintana, but he still doesn’t seem to know what style he wants to use yet. That doesn’t bode well for a 26 year-old who already holds a major world title. If he’s going to beat the elites of the boxing world, he’s going to have to develop that ring identity at some point. Offensive talent can only take you so far…
In the wake of Yuriokis Gamboa’s amazing athleticism and Celestino Caballero’s noteworthy credentials, let’s not forget that Juan Manuel Lopez has the best featherweight any of them have fought on his resume. And let’s not forget that Lopez tore Steven Luevano in half…
-David Haye looked sloppier than usual against John Ruiz. A sharper Haye wouldn’t have looked so ragged trying to finish the stubborn Ruiz in the first round. Heavyweight champion Wladimir Klitschko has started to campaign heavily for a unification match against the brash Brit, promising punishment. Any match that brings out Wladimir’s inner Ivan Drago, I’m all for…
-So Danny Green is still jibber-jabbering about his extermination of the husk of Roy Jones? Wait, so is Bernard Hopkins? Who are they, Hector Camacho?