By Thomas Gerbasi
A little more than two years after his final bout, Shane Mosley still gets excited about the fight game. But no, the reason for this chat isn’t to announce a comeback.
“I’m done,” laughed the 46-year-old. “I’m trying to save as many brain cells as I can.”
Instead, it’s time to celebrate the career of the three-division world champion before his August 18 induction into the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame and, of course, to talk some fights.
These days, the big topic of discussion regarding Mr. Mosley is his take on the idea of Mikey Garcia making the leap from lightweight to welterweight to challenge Errol Spence, considering that Sugar Shane made the same jump when he left 135 pounds to fight and beat Oscar De La Hoya at 147 pounds in 2000.
It’s not a move Mosley is confident his fellow Californian can make, and that’s not a knock on the IBF / WBC champ’s skillset. The way Mosley sees it, in this situation, size matters, unlike when he skipped 140 pounds to go after “The Golden Boy” nearly two decades ago.
“Oscar was lighter than me in the amateurs,” said Mosley. “He was 132, I was 139, and I was actually bigger than him, so it didn’t feel like I was moving up. He was a great welterweight, but it didn’t seem like I was taking that much of a jump because I was already a big lightweight at the time. So fighting Oscar was in my range, and I didn’t really have to watch my weight as much like I used to when I was lightweight. Sometimes at lightweight I wouldn’t eat for two days.
“Mikey Garcia’s a little different,” he continues. “He went from 126 to 130 to 135 and he looks like he can go back to 130. For him to move up from 135 to 147, it looks like he can still stay at lightweight for a little while. And it’s kinda hard because Errol Spence is a 147-pounder that looks like I was at lightweight. He looks like a 160-pounder. It’s real different.”
Mosley watched the recent bout between Garcia and Robert Easter, and it made this opinion even stronger in his mind.
“Mikey Garcia dominated, but he didn’t dominate like that,” he said. “It wasn’t that big of a difference. Where I think if Errol Spence was to fight the same guy, it would have been all over within a couple of rounds.”
That’s a pretty cut and dried assessment. But again, it’s not an indictment of Garcia. In fact, Mosley admires him for daring to be great, just like he did throughout his career.
“I respect him for that because he’s like a throwback fighter,” said Mosley. “And that’s what real fighters do; they challenge themselves and they’re not worried about their ‘0’. He’s worried about greatness and being the best. I really respect him for that. And I think Mikey Garcia’s a really good fighter. I just don’t know if that big of a jump is gonna be good for him because of how big Errol Spence is as a welterweight. He’s a big welterweight that can probably fight at middleweight one day. And he’s southpaw and he’s tall. When Kell Brook fought GGG (Gennady Golovkin), Kell seemed to be a better technician, but he’s just too small. The same thing with Amir Khan and Canelo (Alvarez). Amir Khan was doing a real good job and one shot – there you have it.”
Fighters willing to take that shot are rarer and rarer these days. There has to be fearlessness and confidence in equal measure, an idea that in this sport, who dares wins, regardless of the result. Mosley always had that mindset, even going as far to tell me when he was an undefeated and seemingly untouchable lightweight champion that he knew somebody was out there who had his number. You don’t get that candor from any unbeaten fighter, but Mosley was never like everyone else. The money and the fame was nice, but to get challenged and tested was what drove him. I remind him of that conversation.
“There’s always going to be somebody out there to beat you,” Mosley said. “I wasn’t even sure I wanted to be undefeated because I knew I was going to keep challenging myself. If I was undefeated and I beat this guy and that guy, I’d be like, ‘All right, let’s go fight Roy (Jones), Bernard Hopkins), and whoever else is out there, James Toney or somebody.’ (Laughs) They’re just too big, but I’m testing myself. I want somebody to relieve me of that pressure of losing a fight. Somebody has to win. If they didn’t, I’d keep going to heavyweight and fight the Klitschkos.”
Now that would be something, but in a more realistic world, wouldn’t a fight between a middleweight Toney and a welterweight Mosley have been something? Of course the timelines don’t match up, but what a kinetic chess match between two of the sport’s best minds that would be.
“And James Toney’s about my same height too,” agreed Mosley. “He always wanted to spar with me. I said, ‘You’re too big, James. I know I’m gonna be hitting you a couple times and you’re gonna try and punch me hard.’ He was heavyweight and I was 154-147ish, and I knew I’d be a little faster than James and he’d get mad because I’d be touching him up and he’d try to bully me with all that size.”
Just thinking of these fantasy fights gets Mosley’s juices flowing, and it’s clear that despite walking away from the sport after a 2016 loss to David Avanesyan, the love of the game is still strong.
“I’d love to get in there and work,” he admits. “I was working with Shawn Porter, I sparred with Carl Frampton, GGG, I worked with everybody. But I had to put a stop to myself working.”
That’s not a bad thing, though, as retirement is suiting him well.
“I’m enjoying it very much,” he said. “It’s nice. The secret is to keep yourself moving and keep yourself busy. I’m always in the gym, working out and trying to do different things. I’m trying to keep myself young.”
Mosley laughs, and I remind him that he’ll be busy enough with putting his speech together for the NVBHOF this month and then a likely one for Canastota in 2021. And that’s fine with him.
“The state of Nevada means a lot to me because I had a lot of my big fights there,” he said. “That’s where all the big fights took place, especially in my era. So I’m very happy and excited to be inducted into the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame.”
For more information on the Nevada Boxing Hall of Fame, visit www.nvbhof.com