By Thomas Gerbasi
Before he won a world championship as a lightweight, the first of three divisions he would rule, “Sugar” Shane Mosley’s reputation among his peers and hardcore fans was made in the southern California gyms where he went to war with whoever dared step into the ring with him. It was an education you couldn’t get in a book, and you couldn’t buy it. It also put down the foundation for a career that will likely result in a Hall of Fame nod.
So as the Pomona native prepares his son, Shane Mosley Jr., for his pro debut on Saturday, has he given him the same kind of tough love?
“Oh, he’s sparred all the top guys,” said Mosley Sr. “Kid Chocolate (Peter Quillin), Lucas Matthysse, ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, he’s worked with everybody. I don’t shield him from anything or anybody because these are the people he’s gonna be in the ring with.”
He’s right. Not on Saturday, when he meets Albuquerque’s Mark Cordova (0-1) at the Oceanview Pavilion in Port Hueneme, California, but if the 23-year-old middleweight does live up to even a fraction of what his father did in the ring, he will one day meet the best in the business. So why not get a taste now? But what Mosley Jr. does learn from the aforementioned killers isn’t about technique, but about mindset.
“It’s not necessarily skill, or speed, or power, but it’s ring presence and confidence in themselves and what they know,” he said. “That’s what I gather from them and what I’ve learned and what I plan to use.”
37-10 as an amateur, Mosley Jr. has needed such gloved mentors, as he started late in the sport at 16. And when he did start, it wasn’t dad dragging him to the gym, but a friend.
“I think once I was of age to realize that I can make my own decisions, at 16 I said I need to start figuring out what I want to do and what I like to do,” he said. “One of my friends asked me if I wanted to go to the boxing gym and I wasn’t boxing at the time. He used to box and do tournaments and he asked me to go, so I went and we sparred and hit the bag, and I was like ‘I really like this.’ We went the next day, and I told my dad. I continued to go for the next couple months and then I told him ‘I really love this; I want to do this and take this more seriously and take it to the next level.’ And that’s when I began.”
The decision to pursue the sport more seriously wasn’t exactly one Mosley Sr. expected.
“At first, I thought that it would happen,” he said. “But maybe I was a little surprised. He came a little later than usual. I had worked him out when he was eight years old and trained him and stuff, but then one day he just came up and said he wanted to be a boxer.”
You could say it was inevitable. Jack Mosley had his son Shane Sr. in the gym from when he was a child, and as Jr. grew up, it was all around him as his father won title after title and fought in megafights with the likes of Oscar De La Hoya, Miguel Cotto, Manny Pacquiao, and Floyd Mayweather. But while there were glory days, there were also losses, some more lopsided than others, and in boxing, there is always the lingering odor of the business to deal with. So why get involved?
“I think when you love something, you just love it and you do it,” said Mosley Jr. “You don’t think that this could be bad. If you love it, you just do it. If you think about the negatives, you put doubt in your mind and you don’t need that stuff. You just need to think about doing what you love and doing your best at it.”
“As long as he does what he’s supposed to do, I think the business will fall the right way,” he said. “He’s got to make sure he’s got the right people around him and if he does his job, he should go pretty far.”
So does the kid have the goods?
“I know that he has it,” said Mosley Sr. “He’s got all the tools, but he’ll need a few fights to see where he’s at and where things will go. I just hope that he does the best he can do and that he shows what he can really do in the ring. I know that he’s going to be good and he’s all right. I had him in with a lot of different people, and I just hope that he lets his abilities shine.”
Shane Jr., not yet “Sugar Shane,” is ready to do just that.
“Of course there are nerves because this is my first professional fight and I want it to go great, but I’ve been here before,” he said. “I fought with no headgear before, I’ve been in there with great fighters and there’s nothing I haven’t seen before. So of course there’s nerves, but I’m very prepared and very ready for this.”
Spoken like a true Mosley.