Monday, April 26, 2010
Mayweather vs Mosley
By Lance Pugmire
Before a fight, Shane Mosley's ritual is to lock himself away from the world in his Big Bear Lake training compound.
"You have to drive all the way up here to have something to say and then I have to agree to let you in," Mosley said recently at Big Bear. "I'm up here because boxing is a mental game."
The WBA welterweight champion on Saturday faces his stiffest challenge yet in taking on unbeaten Floyd Mayweather Jr. in Las Vegas.
Mosley is 38 and hasn't fought since a stirring technical-knockout win over Antonio Margarito in January 2009, and oddsmakers peg Mayweather as a 9-2 favorite. Mosley ignores it all.
"The boxing game is right here," Mosley said, pointing to his right temple. "Getting ready for a fight means going to war. This is the hurt business. I can't accept a thought like, ‘This might be my last fight,' or ‘I'm getting old.' "
Before the Margarito fight, Mosley heard the same concerns. He and trainer Naazim Richardson kept saying, "Don't de-fang the monster after we beat him." Then, Mosley pounded Margarito until the fight was stopped in the ninth round.
"Shutting down naysayers, I love that," Mosley said. "That's why Margarito got what he did. This is why I chose boxing. It's a one-on-one sport, and I've always believed no one can beat me one on one when I do the right things."
Mayweather, 33, "is a great fighter," Mosley added. "I'm the best in the world."
Why is Mosley so confident? One reason is Richardson, who has often formulated strategies to beat foes who appeared unstoppable. The trainer orchestrated Bernard Hopkins' upset of then-unbeaten middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik in 2008. And he devised Mosley's game plan against Margarito. Richardson also spotted the plaster-of-Paris inserts confiscated from Margarito's hand wraps before their bout.
"I'm very confident," Richardson said. "Shane prepares like a gladiator going to war. . . . I feel if we present the very best Shane Mosley, we win the [Mayweather] fight."
Richardson's main concern for Mosley is ring rust. After beating Margarito, Mosley hoped to quickly fight Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao. It didn't happen. So Mosley accepted a title unification bout against Andre Berto scheduled for January. But Berto backed out over concerns about his family in Haiti after the devastating earthquake there.
Around then, the Mayweather-Pacquiao mega-fight collapsed after Mayweather insisted on Olympic-style drug tests. So Mosley stepped into the void and accepted the strict drug-testing procedures to fight Mayweather, years after Mosley's own involvement with performance-enhancing drugs.
Mosley, before his rematch win over Oscar De La Hoya in 2003, worked with Victor Conte, founder of the infamous steroid-distributing Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative (BALCO). Conte and Mosley's ex-trainer Darryl Hudson say the fighter took designer steroids and the oxygen-boosting drug EPO. Mosley said he believed he was injecting legal vitamins, and taking EPO. Conte has publicly called Mosley a liar and Mosley has sued for defamation.
For the Mayweather bout, Mosley has followed the drug testing conducted by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. "I have to write an e-mail telling [testers] if I want to go somewhere," Mosley said.
"I actually think this is working to my favor. . . . [Mayweather] likes to go out to clubs until 2, 3 in the morning. I'm not sure he wants USADA there. Me? You know where I'm at. I'm here in Big Bear."
Indeed, Mosley is a gym rat who plays basketball and snowboards outside training and religiously works out.
"I don't care about how fast [Mayweather] is or how good his defense is," Mosley said. "I'm a boxer, a puncher. I can move. I can knock you out with both hands."
Those close to Mosley say he has the same mind-set going into this fight that he did before his first win over De La Hoya in 2000.
Soon after that breakthrough victory, Mosley fell in love with a woman he married, Jin, and they had three children. She also served as his business manager. But the burden of that pairing took a toll. The two are getting divorced. Friends of the boxer say the marriage became a toxic situation that visibly distracted Mosley and, under California's community property laws, he faces a costly divorce.
"Anything Mayweather says is nothing compared to the things she said to me," Mosley said of his wife. The pair separated in 2008.
"Look at the timeline," Mosley said, referring to his marriage. "When I was losing. When I was ready to retire. When people said I was washed up. . . ."
Mosley said more about his wife but didn't want it to be published, so he reached into a reporter's notebook, tore out a page and tossed it in a trash can.
"Now, I feel great," Mosley said. "I'm ready to fight."
Attempts to reach Jin Mosley for comment were unsuccessful.
The divorce "is like a huge cloud has been lifted," said Mosley's attorney Judd Burstein. "In the Margarito fight, you saw his freedom from the craziness."
Richardson, Mosley's trainer, also feels confident about the Mayweather fight.
"I have a guy who's about not taking prisoners, who wants to leave his opponents lying on the battlefield," Richardson said.
"So now I'm telling everyone I know Mayweather is the best of all time. Better than Ali. Better than Frazier. The best that God has ever molded. But if he's the greatest of all time and we knock him on his back, what's that make Shane?"