Forgotten Legends: ‘Lightweight’ Shane Mosley

By: Steve Gallegos

We continue our “Forgotten Legends” series with a familiar name. For the past decade and a half “SugarShane Mosley has been a household name amongst boxing fans. He has mixed it up with some of the best fighters at 147 and 154 lbs. Shane made a name for himself in the eyes of the mainstream public after upsetting the “Golden Boy“, Oscar De La Hoya in June of 2000; however many tend to forget the career Mosley had prior to 06/17/00.

You can ask 10 boxing fans who Shane Mosley beat to win his first world title and probably seven out of those 10 will tell you Oscar De La Hoya; however that is very far from the truth. From 1997-1999, Shane Mosley campaigned as a lightweight champion and had a very successful reign while becoming the poster child for HBO’s Boxing After dark series in which he made several appearances.

In order to tell Shane’s story, we must start from the beginning. Shane Mosley was a huge amateur standout, winning many titles in the process while defeating future world champions such as Oscar De La Hoya, Rafael Ruelas and Stevie Johnston. His record as an amatuer was 230-12 and he came close to making the 1992 U.S. Olympic boxing team; however he was beaten by future rival Vernon Forrest.

He turned pro in February of 1993 and went 23-0 with 22 KO’s between 1993-1997. While being trained by his father Jack Mosley, Shane was impressive in the ring as he put together large volumes of punches to the body and head. A technique which his father called “Power Boxing“. It was during this time that Shane probably didn’t get the due he deserved.

He watched Oscar De La Hoya win four world titles and get million dollar paydays as well as seeing his other amateur rival Stevie Johnston claim a lightweight world title. Shane was starving for a title shot and he would finally get it against tough, undefeated lightweight champion Phillip Holiday.

They met on 08/02/97 in Uncansville, CT. Shane was able to outbox Holiday throughout the bout with quick combinations en route to a 12 round unanimous decision. Shane Mosley was finally a world champion. Although he won the fight, it wasn’t the most impressive of performances as he later claimed he had diarrhea during the bout.

Many critics weren’t sold on Shane Mosley as of yet and he quickly proved them wrong. In his first title defense, he broke down the very tough Mexican challenger Manuel Gomez, scoring an impressive 11th round KO. He followed it up with another impressive eighth round TKO over Demetrio Ceballos in February of 1998. He then faced the toughest test of his lightweight career as he faced former three-time champion John John Molina.

They met on 05/09/98 in Atlantic City and it was a rough and tough war from the start. Molina, who was known for his rough and aggressive style pressured Shane from the outset. Shane was able to weather the storm while using his “Power Boxing” and strong commitment to body punching en route to an eighth round stoppage.

He would defend his title there more times in 1998 all by KO including a win over former world champion Jesse James Leija. Mosley began the year 1999 with an impressive seventh round TKO over Golden Johnson in which he broke down Johnson with his evergrowing commitment to body punching.

It was around this time that he was lobbying for a fight with former amateur rival Stevie Johnston as well as lightweight champion Cesar Bazan and top lightweight contender Ivan Robinson who called Shane out after his second win over Arturo Gatti the past December. Mosley pressed hard to make these fights; however Johnston and Bazan elected to fight a rematch with each other while Ivan Robinson elected to take a lesser payday against Angel Manfredy.

Since Mosley wasn’t able to get the fights he wanted at lightweight as well as weakening himself to make 135 lbs, he elected to take one more fight at lightweight against rugged contender JohnThe Eastern BeastBrown. Brown came into the ring with a record of 19-5; however he was coming off an impressive pair of performances in a losing effort to Angel Manfredy as well as an upset win over Gabe Ruelas in which he took the fight on short notice. Brown was also very durable, having not been stopped in his give losses.

They met on 04/18/99 in Indio, California. Mosley had a hard time with Brown due to his come forward aggressive style. Mosley wasn’t able to land body shots on Brown as it was hard to hit Brown’s body due to his small 5’4 frame.

In the eighth round, Mosley finally hurt Brown with a series of right hand shots to the head. Brown was rocked badly and appeared to be out on his feet at the end of the round, causing referee Pat Russell to stop the fight. It would be his last fight as a lightweight. His record as a lightweight was 32-0 with 30 KO’s, one of the highest KO percentages in the modern era.

He would move up to welterweight and Jr. middleweight in which he would earn million dollar paydays while mixing it up with some of the best like Oscar De La Hoya, Vernon Forrest, Winky Wright, Fernando Vargas, Miguel Cotto and Floyd Mayweather.

He would win some and lose some in the process. Many fight fans only remember his career from 2000 to the present, not remembering his incredible reign as a lightweight champion. While he had his biggest paydays at 147 and 154 lbs, his best days were definitely at 135 lbs. We look back at his days of dominance with bittersweet feelings of a career that has been forgotten.

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