HOLLYWOOD, Calif. – As Shane Mosley expressed his gratitude and excitement about fighting Saul Alvarez on Floyd Mayweather-Miguel Cotto undercard to a large group of sports media and close to 500 fans at Grauman’s Chinese Theater, an unruly lout from the back of the room yelled out:
“You’re washed up!”
It was a loud and obnoxious outburst from a mean-spirited fan, who probably lacks the guts say it to Mosley’s face.
However, the words were not necessarily untrue. More than a few of the better-behaved fans inside the historic movie theater along Hollywood’s Walk of Fame, where the final leg of the multi-city media tour for the May 5 pay-per-view event took place, share the ill-mannered buffoon’s sentiment.
Many members of the boxing press also agree that Mosley has seen better days.
Mosley (46-7-1, 39 knockouts), a former three-division titleholder who has been a pro for 19 years, is 0-2-1 in his last three bouts. The Southern Californian was dominated by Floyd Mayweather in May of 2010 and embarrassed by Manny Pacquiao last May. Between those one-sided unanimous decision losses, Mosley was held to a split draw by Sergio Mora in an uneventful 12-round bout.
So when news broke that the 40-year-old veteran would face Alvarez, an unbeaten 21-year-old junior middleweight beltholder, on the Mayweather-Cotto undercard, there was a collective groan from hardcore aficionados, who ripped the matchup on Twitter and internet boxing forums.
However, Mosley isn’t letting the harsh criticism bother him.
“I don’t care what those type of fans say,” he said following Thursday’s press conference. “They can say what they want but they have no say on who I am or what I do with my life.
“Fighting is my life. I’ve been doing this for 32 years. I love to do this. I still love to train and spar.”
Mosley says he was in the gym when the prospect of fighting Alvarez, the WBC 154-pound beltholder, was presented to him.
“I’ve been working out, just staying ready for a fight,” he said. “I wasn’t thinking about fighting anyone in particular, I wasn’t thinking about Alvarez until he was brought up. I was just staying in shape while I figured out what my next move was.
“Eric Gomez (matchmaker for Alvarez’s promoter, Golden Boy Promotions) contacted my attorney after Alvarez fought (Kermit) Cintron in November to see if I was interested.”
Of course he was.
“It was perfect,” Mosley said. “He’s got a world title and the fight is on a big pay-per-view card. If I beat him I’ll get a belt back in front of the world and I’m back in business.”
That’s a big “if” in the eyes of cynical fans who believe Mosley’s career has been going out of business since his last victory, a sensational ninth-round stoppage of Antonio Margarito in January of 2009.
Mosley doesn’t believe the naysayers are being fair – after all, his recent losses were to the top two boxers in the sport and most observers thought he beat Mora – but he won’t argue with them.
“I gave 100 percent in the ring when I fought Mayweather and Pacquiao, but I wasn’t 100 percent, I wasn’t physically at my best,” said Mosley, who would not divulge what was specifically ailing him – if anything – in both bouts.
“It doesn’t matter what was wrong with me in those fights, all that matters is that I lost. That’s all people see and that’s why I’m the underdog in this fight. But the people who know the whole story, and my fans who still believe in me, know that I can beat Alvarez.”
Richard Schaefer, CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, which is putting on the HBO Pay Per View show at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, cited Mosley’s record against boxers of Mexican descent to support the theory that the “old man” is a dangerous foe for Alvarez (39-0-1, 29 KOs), a budding star from Guadalajara, Mexico.
“Shane grew up in the gyms of Southern California, where he earned the reputation for beating up Mexicans,” Schaefer said. “He knows how to fight the Mexican style. His record speaks for itself, victories against Oscar De La Hoya twice, Fernando Vargas twice, and Margarito.
“The things people are saying about him now are the same things they said before the Margarito fight and we all know what happened. A legend like Shane is never done.”
Mosley appreciates the support from his former promoter but he doesn’t view Alvarez as “just another Mexican fighter” or an easy win.
“Alvarez is a terrific young champion, and he doesn’t fight like the Mexican fighters I’ve fought,” he said. “Everyone is different in the ring, including Mexicans and Mexican Americans. Oscar didn’t fight like Vargas; Vargas didn’t fight like Margarito; Margarito didn’t fight like Mora. Nobody has the same style.”
Mosley envisions a tough fight, one that will be decided by experience, not styles.
“I spar with young guys all the time and I see the difference in experience now more than I used to,” he said. “I have a lot of respect for Alvarez, but he’s only 21. There’s still a lot that he has to learn. He’s a great talent and I think we’re going to put on a great fight, but I think my experience will be overwhelming.
“I think the people around him made a mistake making this fight. They’re thinking their fighter is going to face the Mosley who fought Mayweather and Pacquiao. They’re wrong. I’m going to be 100 percent for this fight. I’m not sure Alvarez is even thinking about me. He might be thinking about fighting Floyd, which is a young man’s mistake.
“I think they’ve all made a big mistake but we have to get in the ring and duke it out to know for sure if Golden Boy Promotions and Alvarez’s handlers messed up.”
And that’s fine with Mosley. Much of the boxing world may want him out, but he hasn’t lost any passion for fighting or the sport.
“I love what I do,” he said. “I’m going to be in boxing for as long as I live. I know I can’t continue to fight forever, but I’m not going to let any fan or anyone in the media pressure me out of my sport.
“I’m going to be boxing for a few more years, especially if I win on May 5.”
Photos / Tom Hogan-Hoganphotos / Golden Boy Promotions & Craig Bennett
Email Doug Fischer at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @dougiefischer