Mosley fights for the love of the game

Kevin Iole
Yahoo! Sports
Mosley (left) is back fighting four months after a crushing defeat to Floyd Mayweather

Mosley fights for the love of the game

Mosley (left) is back fighting four months after a crushing defeat to Floyd Mayweather

Don't look for any complex reasons why Shane Mosley, at 39 years old and coming off the worst loss of his professional career, is continuing to box.

Does he need the money? Well, yeah. These days, who doesn't? Given that he paid ex-wife Jin a reported $1 million earlier this year in a divorce settlement while still allegedly owing another $2.7 million, a few more seven-figure paydays can't hurt.

Is he fighting because his pride was stung by being handled so thoroughly, so easily, by longtime rival Floyd Mayweather Jr.? Sure, that probably plays a role. Mosley is a prideful man who has been the best or among a small handful of the best from the first time he stepped into the ring more than 30 years ago. It can't be easy for him to think of how long he sought that Mayweather fight and then how badly he performed once he got it.

"Just wasn't my night is all," Mosley says by way of explanation for losing 11 of 12 rounds in the most one-sided defeat of his career.

Is he hanging around hoping to one day share a card with his 19-year-old son, Shane Jr.? Well, he'd love for that to happen, but he's also a realist. Shane Jr. is a talented amateur boxer who just won the Blue & Gold tournament in Southern California, the same tournament Dad won 26 years ago.

Staying active long enough to headline a card with his son would be a dream, but Mosley said that when it's time to retire, he'll retire.

"I'll definitely know when that time is and I'll make the right decision," he said.

The reason Mosley fights on, the reason he endures the early wake-up calls for the long runs, the reason he puts his body through the torture it takes to prepare oneself to box at the highest level, is really quite simple.

He loves it.

He loved it when he began 30 years ago, a time when you could buy a first-class stamp for 15 cents and a dozen eggs for 86 cents, when Barack Obama was just 18 and the Pittsburgh Pirates were the best team in baseball.

He loved it in 2000, when he moved up from the lightweight division he had been dominating in record fashion to defeat Oscar De La Hoya before a stunned crowd in a welterweight fight at the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

And he loves it today, about 10 days after his 39th birthday as he prepares to meet Sergio Mora in a 12-round non-title super welterweight bout that will headline an HBO Pay-Per-View card at the Staples Center.

Mosley is now one of the most celebrated boxers of his era, a fearless, charismatic man who won world titles in three weight classes and never once so much as considered ducking a challenge. The better they were, the more Mosley wanted to fight them.

He took a high-risk, low-reward fight against Mora because he's a fighter and that's what fighters do: They fight, the tougher the opponent the better.

"I love to challenge myself and to prove that I can do something," Mosley said. "The one thing about boxing, it's just me and you in there and that's it. If you play basketball, or football, you might have an off night and someone on your team will have a good night and no one notices your bad night because the team still wins. But in boxing, you have a bad night and there's no hiding it. Everyone knows.

"That's such a huge challenge. I love that competitive aspect of it. I've always been that way."

Watching Mosley has been a pleasure because of the joy he got from his work. It was always easy to discern his passion. Whether it was in a gym for a private workout or in front of 15,000 adoring fans, Mosley's love for and dedication to his sport was plainly obvious.

He had an infectious enthusiasm for boxing that, after watching him, made you love the sport that much more.

After a devastating defeat like Mosley suffered in May, many fighters would have taken a long time off to assess the future. But barely four months later, Mosley is back in the ring and looking to a future of super fights against the likes of pound-for-pound kingpin Manny Pacquiao, Antonio Margarito, Miguel Cotto and, yes, even Mayweather again.

"My motivation is very high for this fight," Mosley said of facing Mora. "Sergio is a competitor and he comes to fight. He is going to be there to win. I respect that. I'm the same way, too. I know this is a guy who feels like he has something to prove and wants to use this platform to prove it. But I have something to prove, too."

He looked old and near the end of the line in the Mayweather fight, though Mosley doesn't put a lot of stock into it. It was one of those nights that happen when you regularly face the best in the world, as he has done.

He had a good training camp as he was preparing for Mayweather and said he was ready as he walked to the ring.

"The fight just didn't go my way, the way I thought it would, the way I had trained for it to go," he said. "You just move on and hope to be better the next time."

It was less than a week later that Mosley was back in the gym, sparring and working out. And he accepted a fight against Mora, a middleweight who is dropping to super welterweight for the bout even though trainer Naazim Richardson was a skeptic.

By his own admission, Mosley is a small super welterweight. Additionally, Mora will have the added incentive of knowing he'll get a huge career boost if he can knock off a big name like Mosley.

Mosley, though, couldn't say no.

"He's a gladiator and he always has been," Richardson said of Mosley. "He's going to fight. Other guys sit around and talk about what they're going to do and be 'braggadocious' about their skills. This guy is work. This guy is right back in the camp, not whining, not complaining. We push him. He's accepting it. He's adhering to the work. He's an incredible human being and, like I said, he can just fight his behind off."

Shane Jr. is showing signs of being able to fight his behind off, just like his father, though he's more of a boxer and less of a scrapper than his dad. He's been around the fight game most of his life and has grown to love it the way his father does.

He never doubted that his father would fight again in light of the Mayweather loss. And Shane Jr. doesn't have a problem with it. He hopes his father is still active by the time he's ready to turn professional.

"It would be so awesome to fight on the same card as my father," Mosley Jr. said. "He's still able to fight and he still loves it, so it's still possible. I would be so thankful if that were to happen some day."

But when a boxer begins the countdown to 40, every match becomes a one-at-a-time proposition. There isn't a long-range planning done for fighters as they hit 39 and begin the long trek toward age 40.

Mosley vows he won't overstay his welcome and insists he'll get out with his faculties intact, but neither is he going to say goodbye too soon to please anyone else.

"I love it, I'm able to do it and there are a lot of great fights out there for me, so why even think of quitting?" Mosley said. "I've always had that burning desire to win and it's still there, so I'm going to keep going out there and getting the best fights I can get."

The love affair continues. It's going to be a sad day for the sport and for those who love it, when Mosley finally decides he has had enough and calls it a career.

That day has yet to arrive, however. And hopefully, it will still be a while before it does.

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