By Lyle Fitzsimmons
It’s a good thing I’m a little thin on accomplishments.
I was MVP of a Cinderella hockey run as a Niagara Falls pre-teen, and I’ve managed to outrun about 10 percent of the field while completing a dozen 10-plus mile road races since… but no one’s been ringing the cell phone lately asking for up-front tickets to my Hall of Fame inductions.
It’s just as well, I guess, because I don’t particularly like being a bull’s-eye.
These days, no matter the acclaim earned over a career in an endeavor of choice, it seems a righteously indignant wannabe is rarely far away with a sheaf of reasons why even one more split-second in the spotlight – win, lose, draw or otherwise – will immediately reduce all legacies to rubble.
This past weekend, it was Shane Mosley’s turn in the crosshairs.
Nearly every day since last May – when a wide decision against Canelo Alvarez was the third straight loss in a career that three years earlier had him opposite Floyd Mayweather Jr. in a PPV extravaganza – some soothsayer from some outlet has written that “Sugar” ought to retire in order to save his resume.
Or just as accurately, the writer's warped view of it.
As if those three losses – or the five more he’d had in his previous 13 fights – would cancel out titles in three weight classes, two dramatic wins over a sure-fire Hall of Famer and more plentiful highlight-reel fodder than any 100 pugs whose careers dissolved long before anyone noticed.
It’s been nonsense at every stop from greatness to mediocrity.
But it’s not the first time Mosley’s been the target.
Shane heard the same “he’s done” chatter during a 1-4 stretch from 2002 through 2004, in which he was handily beaten twice apiece by Vernon Forrest at 147 and Winky Wright at 154. Incidentally, all he did in response was win seven of eight, including a vicious beating of supposed “most feared fighter in the world” Antonio Margarito.
This time, the naysayers pounced when Mayweather outpointed him in 2010, when Manny Pacquiao outworked him in 2011 and when Alvarez outslugged him across another 12 inglorious rounds.
What the chatterboxes don’t realize, though, is that frequency does not equal feasibility.
Of course, no one of sound mind is contending that the version of Pablo Cesar Cano that Mosley beat to end the streak is anyone's idea of Ray Robinson. Or even Ray Romano, for that matter.
And no, his Saturday effort in Cancun against Cano – a top 50 welter best known for losing close to bigger names – wasn’t a keeper, regardless of which scorecard you endorsed.
(Incidentally, all the official ones had Mosley winning seven of 12 rounds.)
Win or no win, everyone knows Shane’s not what he was.
Everyone knows he won’t be again.
But what his efforts do prove is that a surely faded and perhaps cash-strapped Mosley, even at 41, can still handle himself well enough for Ws against 99 percent of the active pros out there – and at least briefly competitive distance losses against the other 1 percent.
And if that’s good enough for him, then why shouldn’t it be for us?
Make no mistake, I’m a fan. I’d have loved to have seen him win them all. And I’d have been fine had he chosen to walk away at 39 years old or before, with many of these conversations preempted.
But as long as he's physically able to keep going – and grown man enough to decide to do so – I can't for the life of me understand why it's as bad, sad and tragic as the teary-eyed, quick-to-eulogize Twitter set would have had you believe over the weekend.
Or how it takes anything away from what they’d all thought of him when he was 38-0.
Short of him reliving O.J. Simpson’s or Pete Rose’s foibles, it all makes zero difference.
Those legacies are indeed tarnished by off-the-field failings.
But Mosley's in-ring history is forever safe, and one need look no further than Canastota for proof.
Muhammad Ali lost to Trevor Berbick, but his plaque still says “The Greatest.” Ray Leonard lost to Hector Camacho, but he's still called “Sugar Ray.” Julio Cesar Chavez lost to Grover Wiley, but he'll always be “El Gran Campeon.”
And regardless of what happens to Mosley from here on out, he's still “Sugar Shane.”
* * * * * * * * * *
This week’s title-fight schedule:
IBF super middleweight title – Greenwich, United Kingdom
Carl Froch (champion) vs. Mikkel Kessler (unranked)
Froch (30-2, 22 KO): Second title defense; Lost to Kessler (UD 12) in 2010
Kessler (46-2, 35 KO): Thirteenth title fight (10-2); Fifth fight outside Denmark (2-2)
Fitzbitz says: “Though Kessler hasn’t lost in three fights since defeating Froch, it nonetheless feels like the Englishman is the one with the momentum. He’ll even the score at home.” Froch by decision
WBO junior bantamweight title – Buenos Aires, Argentina
Omar Narvaez (champion) vs. Felipe Orucuta (No. 1 contender)
Narvaez (38-1-2, 20 KO): Seventh title fight; Held WBO title at 112 (2002-09, 16 defenses)
Orucuta (27-1, 23 KO): First title fight; Ten straight wins by stoppage (32 total rounds)
Fitzbitz says: “The Mexican is 10 years younger and has a string of KO victories, but he’s not had a win against someone on Narvaez’s level. Home experience beats traveling brawn.” Narvaez by decision
NOTE: Fights previewed are only those involving a sanctioning body's full- fledged title-holder -- no interim, diamond, silver, etc. Fights for WBA "world championships" are only included if no "super champion" exists in the weight class.
Last week’s picks: 2-1
2013 picks record: 28-19 (59.6 percent)
Overall picks record: 491-171 (74.2 percent)
Lyle Fitzsimmons has covered professional boxing since 1995 and written a weekly column for Boxing Scene since 2008. He is a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Reach him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter – @fitzbitz.