SI Vault
Richard Hoffer
March 19, 2001
Sweet Dreams Sugar Shane Mosley needs a challenge to put the icing on his career
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March 19, 2001


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Sweet Dreams
Sugar Shane Mosley needs a challenge to put the icing on his career

Sugar Shane Mosley may forever lack a defining antagonist. There may be no Frazier to his Ali, no Hearns to his Leonard, no Tyson to his Holyfield. The best competition dodges him or moves up in weight or ducks into a recording studio. So he becomes a kind of monologuist, performing alone, with outclassed opponents like Shannan Taylor answering the bell for the sake of a technicality. They are stage props, really, in what might have to be a solo act for the foreseeable future.

It doesn't matter. It's exciting enough just to watch him work. Surely Mosley, who is grouped with Roy Jones Jr. and Felix Trinidad in that mythical pound-for-pound elite, deserves better than the unheralded Taylor in a Las Vegas ballroom. Shouldn't you have to pay $49. 95 to watch the WBC welterweight champion fight? (Not last Saturday night, when HBO showed him for free from Las Vegas's Caesars Palace.) But artistry survives such indignity, and you are reminded that glamour springs from performance, not from the trappings of arenas and pavilions.

And what a performance! Mosley, who hasn't played the big room since he outpointed Oscar De La Hoya last summer, does not dial it down according to the gate receipts. Playing to a crowd of only 2,800, Mosley showed a power that, coupled with his speed, makes him the most devastating active fighter.

He jolted his tough Australian challenger with a flush right hand to the jaw in the first round, knocking him down and close enough to out that Taylor's trainer nearly stopped the fight right there. Then Mosley used the next four rounds to showcase wide right hands and lefts to the body that had ringsiders shuddering in sympathy. Taylor's trainer, Jeff Fenech, himself a former champion, decided that enough was enough and kept his boxer on his stool before the sixth round.

It was the kind of spectacle everyone could appreciate. Well, not Taylor, who had no recollection of events following that first knockdown; at no point, he said, "did I know what round it was."

Mosley downplayed the performance, saying he'd scored cleaner knockdowns. Everyone else, though, was gushing. HBO boxing chief Kery Davis, asked if he had any superlatives for Mosley, said, "You'll have to make them up. I'm all out."

Sadly, we may never know how good Mosley can be. Since the De La Hoya fight he has been unable to lure fitting opposition. De La Hoya balked at a rematch and focused on cutting CDs. Trinidad has long since left the welterweights behind for a middleweight assault. That leaves fights against the likes of Antonio Diaz (whom Mosley knocked out in November) and Taylor in hotel ballrooms for relatively small fees. The $1.75 million he got on Saturday night was Mosley's smallest payday in three bouts.

Mosley's father, Jack, who is more bottom-line than his son—"He doesn't care about money," says the father-manager; "I do"—has despaired of a De La Hoya rematch and a Trinidad fight. The Mosleys, though, forgive Trinidad for moving on. "He went [to middleweight] sooner than I thought," says Shane. "I guess that window closed."

They are not so considerate of De La Hoya's legacy, which is now based on avoiding rematches with Mosley and Trinidad and opting for walkover Arturo Gatti on March 24. "We beat him once anyway," says Jack, smirking.

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