It was a shame that then welterweight champion Shane Mosley’s only 2009 fight was his January upset over Antonio Margarito. For the rest of the year Mosley sat by hoping to entice either Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao into a superfight. To build anticipation he even uncharacteristically crashed Mayweather post-fight interview after the Marquez bout in hopes of goading his rival into a match. He eventually got his wish, but here Mosley showed obvious frustration in November 2009 when his only willing dance partner was Andre Berto.
The champion is supposed to the hunted, not the hunter. But Sugar Shane Mosley finds himself in the latter’s position, as the best fighters in his division ignore him in favor of easier, more lucrative fights. Even with a signature, brilliant performance against Antonio Margarito last January, it has taken Mosley a full year to secure a follow up fight. In two months, he’ll face young upstart titlist Andre Berto (January 30, HBO) in a welterweight unification match.
The bout has done little to quell Shane’s anger at the system, and the veteran pugilist and future Hall of Famer lets loose on rivals Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, Miguel Cotto, and the disservice being done to today’s boxing fans.
Ismael AbduSalaam: Since you’re having such a long layoff, have you had any problems remaining motivated and keeping your training on point?
Shane Mosley: Even now with the layoff, which is about a year, I’ve been training my son and getting him ready for the amateur division. Hopefully he can make an impact and that’s helped me stay focused as well.
Ismael: A few months back you stated you only wanted big fights going forward, which contributed to the layoff. Who do you classify as big fights opponent-wise in your division?
Mosley: You know, the so-called big fighters don’t want to fight me right now, and that’s Mayweather and Pacquiao. So I’m looking to fight anyone else in the welterweight division like Joshua Clottey, and I have [Andre] Berto on January 30th. Cotto if he beats Pacquiao I can fight him. Any of these guys are good. I just want to clean up the welterweight division and let everybody know I’m the best. I want people to recognize me as the best of my era. After facing these guys I can look back 4 years from now and say I fought the best, and let my son take over from there.
Ismael: With Mayweather and Pacquiao, do you think that they’re ignoring you due to the fact they can make more money facing each other despite you being the champion?
Mosley: Not true. I’ve been making money for a long time. I fought Oscar De La Hoya way back in 2000 and in 2003. People around the world know Sugar Shane Mosley. Even right now after the big fight with Margarito I’m still avoided. I even kind of criticize Pacquiao for that. I know him and he called me the other day to discuss some things. So I’m not bashing him, he’s my friend. Pacquiao will fight me, but his promoter Bob Arum and the other people in his camp won’t let him fight me. It’s not really money for Pacquiao, because if it was he would have fought me because I’m a bigger draw than Cotto around the world.
As far as Mayweather’s concerned, everyone wants to see him fight a real welterweight. He’s in the welterweight division. Why won’t you fight a real welterweight? That’s what Pacquiao is going to have a problem with on Saturday (November 14) because now he’s fighting a true welterweight contender who will show up in that fight.
I’m more of a threat to Mayweather than anybody. And that’s what people what to see, him in a real fight. But he doesn’t want to do that. He wants to steal money like he said on ESPN: from the fans and the people, and tell lies. I really don’t trust anything that comes out of his mouth because he exaggerates and he lies! He’s all hype!
Ismael: I was at the Marquez-Mayweather postfight media press, and you guys seemed to be cordial with each other. Mayweather even hugged you. Is your relationship good enough with him that maybe there can be some progress made behind closed doors?
Mosley: I have a cool relationship with him and his whole family. It’s nothing personal against any of these fighters. But the ring is my office. Inside that ring, I want to be the best and win. Outside the ring, we’re cool. I’ve talked with him; we’ve played basketball and talked business here and there. I talk to his mother and father. Even in the ring when I told him the best fighters should fight each other, it got crazy because he was a little intimidated and scared of me. It got drawn out like it was a major thing when it really wasn’t.
He called me over and I thought ok now we’re going to fight and got excited. Boxing is supposed to be great fighters getting in there in fighting real fights. Even when he was fighting Marquez I was like you can’t be happy with yourself. By beating up this little guy? Marquez is a great boxer, but he’s really a great lightweight. He tried, but whatever. Now you’ve had your tuneup Mayweather, now fight a real fight. He’s ready to go fight Ricky Hatton again.
Ismael: If you had to stake a bet, do you think his next fight will be against Hatton if he could get away with it?
Mosley: I’m speculating, but HBO is trying to push Mayweather-Pacquiao. They’ve been trying to push it forever. But there’s going to be a problem, because Cotto didn’t get that memo. It’s going to be Cotto. Will Mayweather fight Cotto? I think so; he has a good chance of beating Cotto. He boxes and moves and Cotto will have problems because Mayweather’s faster and with his technical skills probably beats Cotto.
I get frustrated because I know I’m the best fighter out there. I want to prove it with my hands.
Ismael: You’re in a catch-22 with fans and media. Before people said you were too nice and needed to be more vocal, and now when you do that people are saying you look desperate and disrespectful. Do you feel that hypocrisy?
Mosley: Yeah, the media will say what they say, but it’s just me being me. I won’t change up for anyone. I’m frustrated about this situation. I don’t like how they’re maneuvering the fans and pulling the wool over their eyes. If you continue to do this, I’m going to put the truth out there. I’m not going to allow lies to be put out there.
Ismael: How has Mayweather been when you’ve brought up the fight to him away from cameras?
Mosley: Well we all know him. Mayweather has always been the one talking down on me and then when I’m around we’re cool. I’m cool with everyone. I’m cool with Winky Wright, I was cool with Vernon [Forrest], I’m cool with everyone I’ve fought. I don’t hold grudges. There’s one thing I want to clear up. Mayweather talks about he wanted to fight me back in 1999, 2000. But he didn’t want to fight me when he was at 130 pounds. I was at 135 and was forced to move up because I couldn’t make the weight anymore. I was starving myself to make the weight. That’s why I moved right up to welterweight to fight Oscar. He didn’t want to fight me back then.
The next time he claimed he wanted to fight me was when I had just fought Vargas twice and someone else. And after the fight I had a headbutt that had loosened my tooth. I said give me a month and I’ll fight you. He didn’t want to do that and chose to fight Oscar De La Hoya. I said ok, that’s cool. If you beat Oscar I’ll be your next opponent, right? Riiight. That didn’t happen. He ran off and fought Hatton. He didn’t want to fight me.
He knows what the fans and public doesn’t know. I’m the only person that can hit him. We have pretty much that same style except I hit harder. I can hit him, the other guys can’t. When I touch him, just like I did to Margarito, he’s going to sleep. Why fight Sugar Shane when I can fight Pacquiao who can’t hit me? Why fight Sugar Shane when I can fight Marquez, Hatton, or Oscar De La Hoya? It’s unfortunate. It’s his last resort. After I retire and am done with boxing then he’ll fight me. If he fights me, that’ll be his first loss.
Ismael: Strategy-wise, how do you beat him?
Mosley: We both match up in speed. Like I said I have more power than him. I’m more aggressive but I can box, too. I can make him try to come at me as well. I have so many different ways of fighting the guy that makes it so appealing. I’m a complete fighter and he’s knows it.
To be honest, all the guys I’ve lost to have been bigger than me. The only one who was the same size as me was Cotto, and really I don’t think I lost to him. And that’s why he doesn’t want to fight me again. Margarito got the inspiration to walk him down like I did.
Ismael: The Andre Berto fight is official, right?
Mosley: The Andre Berto fight is a done deal. He signed the contract, so he’s got his wish. People know I’ll fight anyone. I didn’t have to fight Vernon Forrest or Winky Wright. But I wanted to challenge myself. I didn’t want small guys moving up. If I believe I’m pound for pound, I have to fight anyone. That’s the difference between a real fighter and someone just talking.
Ismael: Did Berto’s Twitter rant calling you out surprise you?
Mosley: A little bit. But he’s younger so he’s letting his emotions get in the way. I’ve talked to Berto and shook his hand, and I’ll continue to do the same thing. It’s just words. Say what’s on your mind. We’ll just settle it in the ring.
Ismael: You see a knockout in that one?
Mosley: This is how I got into it with Fernando Vargas. Larry Merchant asked if I was going to know him out and I said I believe I’ll knock everyone out. That’s how I got in that $100,000 bet with Vargas, which he paid me for, by the way. [Vargas is] a real man. Yes, I believe I’ll knock Berto out. I fight to knock everyone out. That’s probably why when I fought Cotto he got the decision because I fought to knock him out, not outpoint him like I could have done. He was thrown off when I started boxing. Maybe I lost because of that.
Ismael: You challenged Pacquiao to a fight at 140. How could you possibly get that low and still be healthy?
Mosley: I was training my mind and body to get down to that weight just to prove I was the best fighter. I won’t beat you at my weight; I’ll beat you at your weight, even though it’s not really his weight. I was just going to do that for him, because I wanted that fight to happen. I wanted it since I really think Cotto is going to beat him. I was going to do anything to get it.
Ismael: Who was your toughest opponent?
Mosley: My toughest opponent was Winky Wright, followed by Vernon Forrest. Then maybe Oscar the first time when he was at his best. Wilfredo Rivera was very tough when I first stepped to welterweight. Some of my fights at lightweight like Phillip Holiday when I was sick. Cotto would probably rank about 5 maybe 6. Cotto was tough though, a real good fighter.
Ismael: You showed a lot of heart in the first fight with Vernon Forrest. For those who have never been on combat, talk about what goes through a fighter’s mind when you’re hurt and trying to survive and still win the fight.
Mosley: My mindset was I’m going to knock him out. You knock me down, I’m going to get up and knock you out. A lot of people get scared and don’t want to get knocked out. That’s probably why I’m a champion. The fight game is a mental game. The first knockdown [in the 2nd round], I was a little buzzed. I saw the right hand go over my shoulder and he threw the right uppercut which almost had me out. I saw another right coming so I threw myself forward because I knew he was going to hit me with it. The second knockdown he kind of threw me down, he never hit me. My legs were still wobbly and I thought to myself I’m going to fight him. But then I thought to myself I’ve already went down twice, so I should move around a bit so they don’t stop the fight. After the third I went at him because I had my legs back. I got hit more than I should have because I was trying to catch him with a shot.
The fight before that I had a hernia that popped out. After I knocked him out I had to go the hospital and get the hernia sewed up. Against Vernon in the 10th, he caught me with a shot on that hernia cut they made and I scream out “arrrrggggh!” People think that’s because of the body shot, but it was really the hernia. Most people would’ve said ok, I’m not going to win just go down. But I stayed up and fought him. It’s the warrior mentality, I’ll never quit. Fans will always get 100% from Sugar Shane Mosley win, lose, or draw.
Ismael: The Margarito fight was one of your best performances. It looked easy the way you dominated him, but was their anything difficult about his style we may have missed from ringside?
Mosley: To be honest his style wasn’t difficult because I grew up in a predominantly Mexican area. So, I’ve seen it every single day growing up. A lot of it comes from Genaro Hernandez. He got some of his moves from Genaro. I know his trainer Capetillo trained at the same gym in East LA. I could see how he gives other people problems with that style, but it could never work with me. He’s too slow and not stronger than me. He’s not faster and doesn’t hit harder. He had nothing better than me.
Ismael: I’ve started a mythical matchup component to the weekly boxing column, so I decided to match you up with Roberto Duran at welterweight. How would you go about fighting him?
Mosley: I think that I’d fight exactly how Sugar Ray Leonard did. I’d be on my toes and use my boxing skills. I know he’d come right at me. What would offset Roberto Duran would be my strength and my power. He wouldn’t be able to wrestle me because I’m pretty good on the inside.
It’s funny you say him because I study his clips and we’re alike in a lot of ways. He can box as well as fight. The other day I watched his fight with Edwin Viruet. I picked up some different things in that fight. But the best fight probably wouldn’t have been at welterweight. The best fight would’ve been at lightweight because we would’ve really rumbled [laughs].
Ismael: I picked Duran because sometimes when I watch you go to the body and evade shots on the inside it reminds me of him.
Mosley: Yeah, I watch a lot of his tapes. I’m a fan. I’m a fan of all of those fighters from the 80s: Roberto Duran, Sugar Ray Leonard, Marvin Hagler, and Tommy Hearns. That Fab Four, I pick out different things from each fighter.
Ismael: I have to ask you at least one Hip-Hop related question. Who is Shane Mosley bumping these days?
Mosley: I listen to a lot of Lil Wayne. I like Bone Thugs and T.I. There are others, but I’m a big fan of Lil Wayne right now.
Ismael: Closing thoughts?
Mosley: I’ll probably be there for Pacquiao-Cotto. And remeber Shane Mosley-Andre Berto on January 30th at the Mandalay Bay.
Ismael: Thank you for your time, champ.
Mosley: My pleasure.