By Jake Donovan
Cancun ranks high on the list of cities to where people plan to retire, or at the very least visit.
Shane Mosley visits Cancun this weekend, though in hopes of avoiding retirement.
The former three-division champ – done with the sport a year ago following a lopsided loss to Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez – announced earlier this year his intentions to give it one more try. The comeback takes him south of the border, as he faces two-time title challenger Pablo Cesar Cano in a welterweight crossroads bout.
Mosley (46-8-1, 39KO) could have opted for a soft touch for his first fight back in more than a year. Instead, he opted for a young challenger who has been “there” before, as the matchup fits into his future plans, both short term and long.
“This is a long-term return,” insists the 41-year old Mosley, who recently celebrated his 20th year in the pro ranks. “I'm coming for a title. I want to be champion again. I want to make history. After Cano I want one more fight and then look for a world championship.”
Looking for a title shot hasn’t at all been an issue for Mosley, who many will argue has been given too many chances. His last victory came more than four years ago, a shocking 9th round stoppage of Antonio Margarito in downtown Los Angeles, less than an hour from his Ponoma hometown.
It’s clear the fight was his last day in the sun, having since amassed a record of 0-3-1. A draw with Sergio Mora was a fight that arguably should have landed in his favor, but nevertheless not a night to remember. Nor were his performances in three lopsided losses to Alvarez, Manny Pacquiao and Floyd Mayweather Jr.
The loss to Alvarez was enough to convince Mosley to call it a career, an announcement that saw contemporaries Margarito and Winky Wright fall it suit and also fade off into the sunset. Margarito and Wright have lived up to their end of the bargain – so far. Mosley remained sidelined for all of 2012 before once again getting the itch to fight again.
The initial lure out of retirement came in the form of yet another alphabet title shot, as he was promised a Showtime-televised fight with Paul Malignaggi. The bout would have taken place in the defending titlist’s Brooklyn backyard, but fell apart after Golden Boy – who promotes both fighters – was unable to produce the contracted minimum guarantee to Malignaggi, who will now instead face Adrien Broner next month at home.
Money wasn’t nearly as much of a concern for Mosley. While it’s a significant part of the reason why he continues to fight on well past his best years, the final dollar amount on the table isn’t the determining factor in whether or not he takes a fight.
Case in point, his trip to Cancun this week for a 10-round fight that comes with whatever budget is provided by a show that airs on Fox Deportes (as well as Televisa in Mexico).
Still, the trip beyond the border has given Mosley the chance to be treated like an adored future Hall of Fame fighter, rather than questioned why he continues to linger on.
“I am delighted to be back in this beautiful city, and was eager to return,” said Mosley upon arriving in Cancun earlier this week. The grand arrival was met with thousands of adoring fans, many of whom were granted the opportunity to obtain autographs as well as photos with the former champ. “This place is a paradise; the last time I was here (in April) fascinated me.
“It is certainly a pleasure to fight in Cancun, a town that is very boxing knowledgeable. I like being in Mexico, people are very hospitable and always been welcomed with open arms. I've prepared well, I'm in excellent condition both physically and mentally, I am eager to give a good show and I'm sure the people who attend the function will be satisfied with the fight that I will offer.”
Once upon a time, Mosley was the perfect blend of talent and entertainment. His foray into the championship picture was hardly a sign of things to come, a lackluster decision over Phillip Holiday in a fight in which the then-unbeaten lightweight complained of pre-fight illness. Such claim gained validity with each fight into his title reign, with every successful defense ending in knockout.
A move two weight classes up offered the first signs of vulnerability, struggling before rallying to knockout Wilfredo Rivera in the 10th and final round of his welterweight debut. The defining moment of his legendary career came less than a year later, snagging a welterweight belt in a split decision win over Oscar de la Hoya at the Staples Center, whose doors were only open less than a year at the time of the June 2000 bout.
Mosley hovered around the top of the mythical pound-for-pound rankings until running into Vernon Forrest, the last man to beat him in the amateurs and who claimed his spot on the 1992 Olympic boxing squad. Forrest repeated the feat in the pro ranks, twice over with back-to-back wins in 2002.
A controversial points win in a Sept. ’03 rematch with de la Hoya served as the lone victory over a three-year, six-fight stretch, at which point boxing had seen the best of the Californian. A brief resurrection was offered in the form of back-to-back stoppage wins over a faded Fernando Vargas, as well as a brave showing in a narrow points loss to then-unbeaten Miguel Cotto in late 2007.
It wasn’t until the early moments of his January ’09 showdown with Margarito that a turn-back-the-clock moment was upon us.
A sign of things to come was offered before the fight, when it was revealed that Margarito was caught with loaded hand wraps. Mosley picked off the carnage soon thereafter, offering arguably the greatest performance of his historic career, the 9th round stoppage win doubly satisfying as it came on the heels of the Mexican’s sensational stoppage win over Cotto six months prior.
It currently ranks as Mosley’s last great fight, the one said to reside within every fighter.
Feeble showings in four subsequent fights leave fans curious as to what’s in store on Saturday evening. Skeptics believe it’s the final nail in the coffin; Mosley believes the naysayers should get used to being proven wrong, and is prepared to go the long haul this weekend in order to prove his point.
"This fight is very important for me, because I want to return to the limelight,” insists Mosley, who has his father and original head trainer Jack Mosley, and oldest son, Shane Jr. in his corner. “We only have in mind getting out of Cancun with a win. I see this fight as a new beginning for me. I have my father back [as trainer]. I guarantee you will be the same Sugar Shane Mosley [of old].”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com, as well as a member of Transnational Boxing Ratings Board, Yahoo Boxing Ratings Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox