Shane Mosley was sitting on the edge of the ring at Fortune Gym in Hollywood recently, a few minutes before a media workout to promote his fight against Sergio Mora on Saturday, when he was asked by RingTV.com to reveal the best he’s faced in 10 important boxing categories.
The assumption was that Floyd Mayweather Jr. – who easily outpointed him in May — would be his response in most of the categories even though the future Hall of Famer has faced many elite opponents over his 17-year career.
Among those he has fought are possible Hall of Famers Oscar De La Hoya (twice), Vernon Forrest (twice), Winky Wright (twice), Fernando Vargas (twice), Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito and Mayweather, against whom he was a collective 5-6.
Mayweather made the list of the best Mosley has faced – how couldn’t he? – but we were surprised by some of Mosley’s answers.
Best overall fighter: Four-way tie — Mosley knew he was expected to say Mayweather when he was asked this question but shook his head and refused to name a single fighter. “Everybody had different strengths. Vernon Forrest had his strengths. Mayweather had his strengths. Oscar had his strengths. Winky had his strengths. I’d say they were all on the same level at the time I fought them.”
Best boxer: Mayweather — No hesitation here. Mosley was unable to cope with Mayweather’s skills for almost the entire 12 rounds. “His technique, his movement. He was just a very good boxer.”
Best puncher: Forrest: Forrest was the first to seriously hurt Mosley, who went down twice in the second round but survived to lose a one-sided decision in their first meeting. Mosley has never been knocked out in 53 fights. “I’m not sure why; maybe it was just natural. He just hit the hardest.”
Quickest hands: De La Hoya — Mosley was smiling when he responded to this question because, again, he knew the expected response was Mayweather. However, he was firm with his answer. “It wasn’t Mayweather. Actually, it was Oscar back then. Not now but back then.”
Quickest feet: Mayweather — Again, no hesitation. “Mayweather. Very fast.”
Best chin: Zack Padilla — Mosley cheated here because he didn’t face Padilla in an official bout but the two sparred well over 1,000 rounds over many years. His response in this category was probably his most enthusiastic. “He had the best chin. I hit him with sledge hammers and it didn’t hurt him. Ask anyone who has fought him and they’ll say the same thing.” Sadly, Mosley did hurt Padilla. He suffered a brain injury after a brutal session in 1994 and had to retire.
Best jab: De La Hoya and Wright — Mosley thought about this for a few minutes but couldn’t make his mind. “They both had a really good jab.”
Strongest: Wright — This isn’t a surprise because Mosley was still a natural welterweight and Wright was a mature junior middleweight when they met twice in 2004, Wright winning a one-sided decision in the first fight but barely gaining the nod in the second. “Winky didn’t have punching power but he was physically very strong. He was the strongest I faced.”
Smartest: Mayweather — One aspect of Mayweather’s game might be his ring savvy. Mosley didn’t hesitate before provided this response. “He’s just smart. He knows when to go in and when not to. He won’t take any chances. He won’t listen to the crowd or anything to get himself riled up. He stuck with his game plan.”
Best defense: Tie, Wright and Mayweather — Mosley at first gave Wright as his response to this question. On second thought, though, he wondered out loud whether Mayweather was the better choice. “I think Winky was the best defensive fighter I faced. Mayweather is more a slick counter puncher. … Well, I did hit Winky a lot. Maybe it’s Mayweather. Winky had more a smothering defense. He gets you tired, drains you. With Mayweather, you just can’t hit him really. It’s close. They have different types of defenses.”