Shane Mosley: The Return of the “Sugar”

shane mosley21.07.06 - By Travis Marks: Sure there was the unanimous decision win against then WBC and WBA super welterweight champion and sure fire hall of famer Oscar De La Hoya on September 13, 2003. And yes there was the win against the precocious welterweight David Estrada followed up by another victory at welterweight against strong and sturdy Jose De La Cruz.

Even a TKO win against Fernando Vargas a shade over a minute into the tenth round in their first fight in February of this year didn’t show us what we saw last Saturday night. By knocking out Vargas at the 2:38 mark of the sixth round last night we saw the real “Sugar” Shane Mosley; a fighter who was last seen knocking out former welterweight contender Adrian Stone in three impressive rounds some five years ago.

For Mosley this has been a long time coming. After destroying Stone, Mosley’s record stood at 38-0 (35 KO’s). In his first bout after stopping Stone, Shane was dominated in every way possible by archrival Vernon Forrest. Shane not only lost but he was knocked down for the first two times in his career. A prideful Mosley jumped back in the ring to fight Forrest in a return bout. And he was defeated again. Not only did he lose the match he lost the very things that had made him great.

Mosley’s brand of boxing is called power boxing. Power boxing consists of speed and power. For power boxing to be effective the punches must be thrown in combination. Mosley was at his best when he threw combinations to the body and head especially the former. After the beating he took from Vernon, Shane stopped throwing combinations.

Looking for a fresh start after the losses to Forrest moved up to super welterweight. He fought former IBF super middleweight champion Raul Marquez to a no contest after three rounds when it was ruled that a cut over Marquez’s eye (result of a head butt) was too deep to continue. In those three rounds once again Shane looked much different from the form that had many considering him the best pound for pound fighter in the world. The combination boxing was yet again absent and he looked to have lost some of his speed.

There rumbling’s throughout boxing that Shane had lost it and was no longer worthy of the moniker “Sugar.” After all, the nickname “Sugar” is shared by the man that most consider the greatest fight ever (Ray Robinson) and also all time great (Ray Leonard).

After the Marquez fight Mosley fought De La Hoya again. He was victorious once more. Despite beating De La Hoya, Mosley did not receive much credit. His win was shrouded in controversy. The HBO announcers and most that viewed the fight on television scored the fight a victory by decision for De La Hoya. Mosley showed some power in the fight but at times was out boxed by De La Hoya and was even caught on tape telling his father that De La Hoya’s punch was faster than his. Once again Mosley was throwing one punch at a time and was looking like a limited fighter.

Many of Mosley’s fans wanted to see the old Shane Mosely. They wanted to see the lightweight who was simply a monster in the ring. They wanted the man who imposed his will on all of his opponents. They wanted the fighter who was faster, stronger and more determined than everyone he faced. They wanted to see the power boxer; the pugilist who threw combinations to the head and body. That vaunted left hook to the body and head was sorely missed.

The enjoyment of defeating De La Hoya again was short lived as Winky Wright picked Shane apart in Mosley’s first bout after his battle with Oscar. Shane fired his father as trainer but that didn’t help as Winky beat him again their rematch. At that point many thought that Shane was finished as an elite fighter and that the old Shane Mosley was of the distant past.

After losing to Forrest the first time Shane promised everyone that he would be able to resurrect the dynamo he once was. With each subsequent match it appeared that Shane was in denial because there was no semblance of his once dominant days. There was no method to his madness in the ring anymore. He hadn’t even knocked down an opponent until last Saturday night.

That’s why Saturday night was so sweet. Shane not only showed his trademark skills but he was dominant. He was that man we saw at lightweight again, at least for one night. Although he was the favorite in the fight, no one could have foreseen Shane landing a punch that would have the devastating impact that his left hook had on the befallen Fernando Vargas.

So what does this all mean? Is the former pound for pound king back? Is this victory synonymous to Felix Trinidad’s victory against former WBC super middleweight and WBC/WBA welterweight champion Ricardo Mayorga? Meaning was Vargas just a tailor made opponent for Shane and if Shane fought a higher caliber his flaws would be exploited the way Trinidad’s was against Winky Wright?

Inquiring minds would like to know if Shane can hang with the elite fighters anymore. A fight with the new pound for pound king “Pretty Boy” Floyd Mayweather seems imminent. I asked Shane about the possibility of fighting Floyd a few days after his second win against De La Hoya. . Shane laughed and said “back when I was at 135 (lightweight) I approached Floyd about a fight because he kept saying to everyone that he wanted to fight me. Floyd said that he was not ready, so all that is all talk with Floyd.”

Nevertheless for now the real Shane Mosley is back. He was not a one trick pony who no longer possessed the ability to throw combinations. He was fast, fluid and strong. He was everything that he always was until he ran into Vernon Forrest. Let’s hope he’s back for good because he is one of the last real superstars left.

Article posted on 22.07.2006

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