Shane Mosley has been on deck for a long time.
Since January 24 to be exact. That’s one year from this weekend.
After turning back the clock at age 37 and knocking out Antonio Margarito for the WBA Welterweight Championship on that date, Mosley should have been in the best position in boxing, awaiting the call for a fight with pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao or the previous incumbent Floyd Mayweather Jr., whose “retirement” nobody was buying.
Neither fight materialized, however, as Pacquiao chose Ricky Hatton and Mayweather made his inevitable return against the undersized Juan Manuel Marquez. When Pacquiao walked through Hatton and signed to fight Miguel Cotto, Mosley grew desperate for a big money fight. He crashed Mayweather’s victory party following the Marquez bout, challenging Floyd face-to-face in the ring.
With “Money” being all about the money, Floyd saw a bigger payday in Pacquiao. They entered negotiations shortly thereafter, and Mosley had to turn elsewhere.
That path led Mosley to undefeated WBC Welterweight Champion Andre Berto in a fight that posed far more risk than reward for Shane. Running low on options, Mosley had to take the fight. Hopefully, an impressive victory would be enough to convince Pacquiao or Mayweather to choose him next.
When Pacquiao-Mayweather fell apart weeks ago, Mosley had to feel cheated for having already signed to fight Berto.
While Pacquiao-Mayweather not happening was a tragic blow to boxing, the real tragedy was still to come. Berto’s family’s home country of Haiti was ravaged by earthquakes this week, claiming the lives of eight of his relatives. Andre was in no condition to fight and understandably pulled out of the biggest, most dangerous bout of his career.
Strike three. Mosley was out.
Not so fast. Though 38 years old now and running out of time in the sport, Mosley is suddenly back at the plate, ready to swing at the first good look he gets. Here are three suggestions on fights he should consider swinging at, from best to worst.
1. Floyd Mayweather Jr.
With Mayweather without an opponent for the foreseeable future and Pacquiao having already moved on to fight Joshua Clottey, Mosley poses not only the most logical option for Floyd but the most lucrative as well.
The story is already set: two boxers who represented the future of the sport couldn’t agree to fight each other in 2000. Mayweather wanted Mosley; Mosley got Oscar De La Hoya. And again in 2006. Mayweather wanted Mosley; Mosley took a vacation. Yet again in 2007. Mosley wanted Mayweather; Mayweather chose retirement. And still 2009. Mosley wanted Mayweather; Mayweather wanted Pacquiao.
Right now, Shane and Floyd should be thinking about no one but each other. With Pacquiao-Mayweather off the table, this is the superfight in boxing – between not only two top welterweights but two of the best across the sport, bolstered by a hatred that, as far as anyone can tell, is legitimate.
But as evidenced by the Pacquiao-Mayweather travesty, you can’t always get what you want, which brings us to…
2. Miguel Cotto
The last man to beat Mosley was Cotto – in November of 2007 – in a close, competitive and highly-entertaining showdown. Prior to Cotto losing to Pacquiao this November, Mosley-Cotto II was the fight to make in the welterweight division.
Cotto has two losses on his resume, and neither is anything to be ashamed of. He was stopped by Margarito in 2008. Margarito attempted to load his gloves with plaster of Paris against his next opponent – Shane Mosley. To suspect Margarito used the same illegal tactic against Cotto isn’t just forgivable; it’s almost warranted.
The other man to defeat Cotto? The number one fighter in the world as it stands today – Manny Pacquiao. Not helping matters was that Pacquiao’s team also demanded Cotto fight at a catchweight of 145 pounds. Pacquiao has not asked Clottey to do the same for their upcoming bout on March 13.
Many feel Cotto is damaged goods after being victimized by Margarito and pummeled by Pacquiao, but he’s been in with tough fighters of late who are almost impossible to beat, let alone impress against.
There is talk that Cotto’s promoter Bob Arum wants to put him in against WBO Junior Middleweight Champion Yuri Foreman this summer. If that is the case, Mosley might instead look to…
3. Zab Judah
It’s true that Judah hasn’t fought anyone relevant since Clottey in the summer of 2008. It’s also true that he hasn’t beaten anyone relevant since he knocked out Cory Spinks in early 2005. But don’t rule Zab out as an opponent yet.
In fact, before he lost to Clottey, Judah was supposed to fight Mosley. It was a signed fight with a pay-per-view billing until Judah injured himself slipping in the shower.
So why is Judah – now at six losses – a viable opponent for Mosley? For all he lacks in mental toughness, Judah is still one of the most talented fighters in boxing. And he is without a doubt one of the fastest. Perhaps only Pacquiao is as fast as Judah, and it’s no secret that should Mosley win his next fight, he is the leading candidate for a fight with Manny later in the year.
Fighting a similarly fast southpaw in Judah would be the best preparation for a fight with Pacquiao and would give Mosley a confidence-building win. If a fight with Mayweather doesn’t materialize, and if Cotto proceeds to fight Foreman, don’t be surprised if Mosley agrees to fight Judah next.
Clearly, Mosley still has options to keep his career alive. But should a fight with Mayweather not come off next, Shane will unquestionably have to win whatever fight he does take in order to keep himself in the running and a major player in the game.