Shane Mosley-Oscar De La Hoya: 15 years later
“It snuck up on me,” Shane Mosley told me, of the anniversary of his June 17, 2000 fight against Oscar De La Hoya.
“Sugar Shane,” unbeaten, flashy-fisted, winning smile, needing a signature win to convince ’em he was the sport’s pound-for-pound ace. He knew it, needed others to see the light, hop onboard that truth train…
Oscar, the “Golden Boy,” only the tiniest bit tarnished, having tasted loss for the first time to Felix Trinidad, a year before. The best fighting the best, it was.
Mosley: “Yeah, I didn’t know it was the anniversary until others pointed it out to me.”
Oscar was 27, Mosley 28, and the card was billed as “Destiny” by Top Rank Promotions’ Bob Arum, who helmed De La Hoya. If that was so, the end result had Mosley being dubbed “the standard-bearer” for boxing after doing his thing at Staples Center in Los Angeles.
Going in, though, many sniped that he hadn’t been in tough enough. This, however, was a tough date, going to 147 from 135. Mosley told me he long craved this fight, and it wasn’t hard to make, with Oscar getting the high end split, 60/40. This clash had two LA guys going for it, in LA, in the christening boxing event at the venue.
“That first fight, I definitely won,” Mosley recalls. “The second one, it could have been a draw. But since I was the champ then, he didn’t do enough to take it.” The 2000 tussle, Mosley fought smart, following dad Jack’s instructions not to get reckless, get caught. Even so, Oscar impressed him. They’d butted heads and fists before, when SSM was 12, Oscar 11. Then, a sparring session before the 1992 Olympics, in which Oscar took a gold.
Now, two grown men, with the stakes so much more immense.
Mosley (34-0, 32 knockouts) could become the sixth fighter to win both the lightweight and welter titles. De La Hoya (32-1, 26 KOs), Roberto Duran, Pernell Whitaker, Henry Armstrong and Barney Ross had done it before. Going in, Mosley told me, he knew he’d win. “Yeah, there was no way he was beating me.”
Switching lefty a couple times, he befuddled Oscar and his stamina was superb, late in the game. He was so dangerous backing up, his timing and accuracy hard to handle. A 12th and final round was a hammer-and-tong scuffle, and the crowd adored it. The cards were then talliedÔÇª
Mosley got love from Lou Filippo (116-112) and Pat Russell (115-113) while Marty Sammon went for Oscar (115-113). Mosley was buoyant afterward and impressed with Oscar, admitting he was better than he expected. “Yeah, I hadn’t fought anyone on his level before. His perseverance was the biggest surprise. He just kept coming. He had more heart than I had ever seen. And, oh man, he had a chin. I couldn’t knock him out. I planned to, like most everyone I fought. I fought the right fight, I think; I won.”
The pound-for-pound prize was now his, he recalls. “Yes, sir. I was the only person to have really beaten Oscar. But I don’t feel maybe I got proper respect. I beat Oscar at Staples twice [Editor’s note: Mosley-De La Hoya II was hosted at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, Nev.] and sold it out with my later fight against Antonio Margarito. But Oscar has a statue out front,” he says, chuckling.
He’s still done pretty well; Mosley last fought in Nov. 2013, losing to Anthony Mundine. But the boxing blood infection still rages in him; he said he’d take another scrap and knows he still has hand speed and guile and ring generalship to get it done. With a 47-9-1 (39) mark, he’s been busier getting others ready for their bouts. He helped out in the Shawn Porter camp and trained Curtis Stevens for his last fight, a “Big Knockout Boxing” feature. His son, Shane Jr. will be fighting a BKB event, so he will pitch in on that some. A name heavyweight has asked him to help for a possible big bout dropping later in the year “and I am looking to make a possible return to the ring.”
Mosley didn’t get the mad pop you might have expected by being the man to beat the man. Cedric Kushner promoted him, a solid B-plus guy, but not an Arum or a Don King, someone who could serve as sage uplifter to get him to be thought of as something other than a massively talented “nice guy.” The path post-Oscar win maybe wasn’t conceived by his backers as well as it could have been, as he met Antonio Diaz, Shannan Taylor and then Adrian Stone, before colliding with Kryptonite Vernon Forrest.
That said, Mosley will get a slot in Canastota, NY. and remains relevant today, as he’s a feisty fixture on social media, showing more personality than he did outside the ring in his heyday. And on that date, back in the year 2000, really, truly, he was on top of the world of boxing, king of that domain, of that region, of that sport. Oscar, of course, had a track record and a legacy of craving stiff challenges and not being afraid to bite off more than he could chew. He was a boxer, not a businessman first, and that first bout in 2000 helps remind us of his mentality. Same went and goes for Mosley…These two demanded to know who was king of the LA hill and fight fans were the better for it.