By Jake Donovan
Every true ring warrior has one last great fight in them. It’s the tagline that always accompanies any bout featuring a past-prime fighter believed to be in way over his head.
It’s about all that Shane Mosley has left to cling to, heading into his May 5 showdown with Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez in Las Vegas. The bout serves as the chief support to the pay-per-view headliner between Miguel Cotto and Floyd Mayweather, Jr., both of whom own wins over Mosley.
The latest assignment for Mosley is a stern reminder of just how far from grace he has fallen. The 40-year old has served as the B-side headliner for each of the last two major cards centered around the Cinco de Mayo holiday, dropping a lopsided decision to Mayweather Jr. two years and offering an even less inspiring performance against Manny Pacquiao last May.
Wedged in between was a disputed draw against Sergio Mora in their largely unwatchable Sept. ’10 pay-per-view main event. All told, Mosley hasn’t seen the win column since his throwback performance versus then-top welterweight Antonio Margarito more than three years ago.
The present has become a bitter pill to swallow for Mosley. To his credit, he doesn’t cling to his past as proof that he’s the same great fighter as was the case a long time ago. He’s not looking to turn back the clock, but rather prove that time still exists on what appears to be an expiring career.
“It’s about pride now,” Mosley admits. “All of those victories, those fights I’ve won are all in the past. I’m facing an up and coming champion who has a belt that I want. I’m looking to win the belt and going on to bigger and better things. We both have ideas of what we want to do. He has the idea of winning the fight and going on to bigger things. I have the same plan (for myself).”
The elephant in the room is just far along Mosley in his career – now in his 20th year as a prizefighter – and the ramifications of a fourth straight fight without a win should Alvarez prevail. To say that May 5 is a must win is a massive understatement.
Mosley plans on performing as if his career depends on it, though doesn’t believe that he’s yet reached the do-or-die stage.
“I don’t look at this as my back against the wall. This fight, I’m looking to make a statement – not just winning, but making a statement. I see myself as not an old warrior but a young killer. I don’t buy into the 40-year old stuff. I’m coming into the fight like I fought Margarito.”
Heading into the Margarito fight, Mosley struggled before taking out faded Ricardo Mayorga with mere seconds to go in the 12th and final round of their Sept. ’08 bout. It was believed that his next fight would be his last day in the sun, but Mosley ran wild on Margarito just moments after the Mexican was caught with plaster-like substance in his handwraps.
It’s been all downhill since then. The losses to Mayweather and Pacquiao could be dismissed as simply coming up (very) short against the two best fighters in the world. Even the disputed draw – in which many felt Mosley deserved the nod – could easily be chalked up to a bad styles matchup.
Yet Mosley believes the answer lies not within the results but what took place prior to those bouts.
“The difference in this camp is that I’m going into camp feeling good,” Mosley insists. “I’m not worrying about anything bothering me. I’m just going to camp. I feel I’m able to be at my best.”
At his best, Mosley was once regarded as the best fighter in the sport. That changed the moment he lost for the first of two times to the late Vernon Forrest more than a decade ago.
Whether or not the best of whatever Mosley has left is enough to get past Alvarez remains to be seen, though an uphill climb as far as most are concerned. Mosley would love nothing more than one more chance to upset the odds, doing so on a major Mexican holiday.
“It means a lot,” Mosley says of a potential Cinco de Mayo win over Mexico’s current favorite son. “I think winning this title means more. It puts me in line with the bigger fights.”
Jake Donovan is the Managing Editor of Boxingscene.com. Follow Jake on Twitter: @JakeNDaBox or submit questions/comments to JakeNDaBox@gmail.com