By Chris Robinson
Typically, when you talk to trainer Naazim Richardson, you will leave your interview chalked full of sound bites and with a definite sense of insight into whatever topic was at hand. Such is the way with the North Philadelphia trainer, as Richardson almost speaks in riddles and comes across just as much as a Zen master as one of the game’s top coaches.
But during a recent interview, Richardson offered up a different portrait. Inside of the crowded main lobby of the MGM Grand Hotel and Casino, Richardson was keeping a close eye on his fighter Shane Mosley, who had just made his grand arrival to the city ahead of his bout with WBC junior middleweight champion Saul Alvarez this Saturday night.
Obviously not fully in his element, the gracious Richardson was still kind enough to speak for a few minutes. Knowing that time was limited, as Team Mosley would be making their farewell after Shane’s time conducting interviews on the dais was over, I began shooting rapid-fire questions Richardson’s way.
“He appears healthy this fight,” Richardson would say of Mosley, who trained in Big Bear, California for this weekend’s duel. “This particular fight, [Antonio] Margarito was the last fight that he was actually healthy, where he had no injuries going in. Not making any excuses, but the bottom line, he feels healthy in this fight.”
Mosley’s first fight at the junior middleweight limit of 154 pounds took place in February of 2003 and he has since bounced back and forth between that division and the welterweight class. Now 40 years old, Richardson admits that Mosley’s frame has finally filled out.
“He’s a junior middleweight now,” said Richardson. “When he fought junior middleweight when he was younger, he was just the best fighter on the planet, so he could afford any weight. But now he’s really a junior middleweight.”
As far as what he may be able to exploit in Alvarez, Richardson couldn’t highlight anything specific, only pointing to the reality that the 21-year old champion has yet to swim in deep waters.
“There’s weaknesses in every fighter God put on the planet,” Richardson would state. “Every fighter to ever pick up a pair of gloves has weaknesses. I just need Shane Mosley to be the best Shane Mosley he can be. Saul Alvarez still has questions we haven’t answered and that’s where the surprises can come. We don’t know if the kid gets off the canvas and fights like a monster. We don’t these things because he hasn’t been tested with anybody.”
I also was sure to ask Richardson about his other high-profile pupil, living legend and former middleweight and light-heavyweight champion Bernard Hopkins, who this past weekend suffered a majority-decision loss in a rematch with Chad Dawson in Atlantic City, New Jersey.
The 47-year old Hopkins has had a long and winding road in the sport and showed some bitterness after the Dawson defeat, refusing to give a post-fight interview and claiming that he didn’t see how he lost the fight.
Richardson knows fully well of Hopkins’ pride but can’t dwell on the past, even if it was just three nights ago.
“Bernard will never embarrass himself but the thing is, right now I don’t really get the luxury to dwell on that right now because we’ve got to concentrate on Shane Mosley,” said Richardson.