Mosley: ‘Mayweather would have trouble in another era’

Kelsey McCarson
29/06/2015 10:30am

Shane Mosley, winner of world titles in three different weight divisions and arguably one of the best lightweights in boxing history, isn’t sure today’s premier boxer, Floyd Mayweather, would be quite so successful competing during another era. 

“Floyd is a phenomenal fighter. He’s sharp and he works hard and does what he’s supposed to do to win fights,” said Mosley. “But you put him in a different era where you have some hungry guys and I think he has some trouble. Like I said, the amateur program messed up these up-and-coming fighters where they’re not fighting the same. Floyd got the scoring from his father and his uncle and stuff like that where he learned that style. It’s going to be hard to beat him. You can’t beat him at that.”

Mosley believes the changes to the amateur point system after Roy Jones Jr.’s erroneous loss at the 1988 Summer Olympics helped mould Mayweather and others of his generation into point scorers rather than more traditional prizefighters. “These guys just try to score points. We tried to knock people out.”

Mayweather outpointed Mosley in 2010. After nearly knocking the 33-year-old Mayweather down twice in the second round, Floyd adjusted and outboxed Mosley, then 38, for a unanimous decision victory. 

Mosley said he went into that fight with a pulled groin, but also admitted the best version of himself at welterweight, probably the one from a decade earlier who defeated Oscar De La Hoya to win the WBC title, would have stood a much better chance anyway. 

In fact, Mosley suggested both he and De La Hoya would defeat Mayweather if the duo could have faced him as their best selves (Mayweather, age 30, defeated De La Hoya, age 34, by split decision in 2007. De La Hoya retired in 2008). But Mosley said their 2000 versions would have given Mayweather fits.  “Mayweather didn’t want it. I was real strong back then and I was fast. He didn’t want that. He didn’t want either one of us, Oscar or me.”

At 38, Mayweather is a very gifted and accomplished prizefighter. He is one of only two men to win lineal championships in four different weight divisions. He’s captured legitimate world titles in five different weight classes and is undefeated in 48 professional prizefights. Moreover, Mayweather is coming off his most historically important win to date, having defeated longtime rival Manny Pacquiao by unanimous decision in May to solidify his standing as the best fighter of the era.

But criticism of Mayweather abounds. While his pristine record is celebrated by some, others point to it as evidence of his proficiency as a matchmaker. While he deserves credit for finally facing and defeating the Filipino, some would contend the win has less merit than it would had they fought five or six years prior.

In fact, many of Mayweather’s best wins came against aging champions past their primes. A cynic would say Mayweather avoided facing fighters like Pacquiao, Mosley and Miguel Cotto until they had aged passed their best chance of defeating him. A similar argument could also be made for Mayweather’s win over Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez, a fighter who was just 23-years-old when the two squared off and probably not yet ready for a fighter of Mayweather’s calibre. 

But no contests in boxing happen within a vacuum. It’s safe to say Mayweather faced at least close-to-the-best versions of Ricky Hatton and Juan Manuel Marquez, regardless of the weights in which the bouts were contested. Hatton, the 140-pound champion fought Mayweather at 147. Marquez, the lightweight champion, came all the way up to meet Mayweather at a catchweight of 144 pounds, but Floyd missed the weight, paid a hefty penalty and weighed 146 pounds instead. Regardless, Mayweather outclassed both of them.

More importantly, almost no great fighters meet each other when both are at their peaks. There are notable exceptions, of course, such as Mosley facing De La Hoya in 2000 and Ray Leonard facing both Roberto Duran and Thomas Hearns in the early 1980s, but many fighters have made their names in boxing facing and defeating faded champions.

Still, if anything, it’s hard to imagine Mayweather living up to Mosley’s gumption if their eras had been reversed. Maybe Mayweather comes up as quickly from lightweight to meet De La Hoya in 2000, but would he have taken on stylistic nightmares such as Vernon Forrest and Ronald ‘Winky’ Wright like Mosley did?

And if he had suffered the same setbacks as Mosley, would he have rushed into immediate rematches, too?

Mosley isn’t so sure. In fact, Mosley contends Mayweather avoided facing at least one of those fighters altogether. According to Mathew Roads, Mayweather agreed to terms to face Wright back in 2005 before suddenly pulling out of the bout to face the much less heralded Sharmba Mitchell instead. Mosley remembered the very same thing.  

“I think Winky Wright wanted to fight Mayweather and I don’t think he wanted to fight Winky,” said Mosley. “He did a lot of picking and choosing about who he wanted to try and take down at that time.”

Still, Mosley praised Mayweather for his defeat of Pacquiao. While Mosley said he understood the general public’s disdain for the tactical fight, he said those who follow the sport closely, particularly fighters, were treated to a masterful display of boxing.

“There was so much technical stuff,” he said. “Mayweather did a lot of technical stuff and Pacquiao was trying to do some stuff, too. He was throwing a lot of punches that people didn’t even probably see land. It was a type of fight that fighters could appreciate but not the type that boxing fans can. It’d be hard for some of them to appreciate that type of stuff.”

Mosley also said the fight looked completely different in person than it did on television. It appeared a clear Mayweather win to him when he rewatched the fight on television, but looked better for Pacquiao at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas where Mosley was ringside.

“People listen to the commentators all the time and I don’t like that either,” said Mosley. “They listen to what those guys are saying and then they do trick photography with the cameras and stuff to make it seem like one person is winning versus the other. That’s why you have to be there [in person]. Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson, and Tyson might not say this publically, both thought it was a close fight.”

Regardless of the nature of the win, Mosley’s assessment of Mayweather’s style is less than flattering.

“He boxed, ran, held, boxed, ran, held, boxed, ran, held,” he said.

Mosley relates the win over Pacquiao to Mayweather’s success in the sport overall. He said Mayweather simply came along at the right time and wonders if he’d be as successful in any time prior to today’s boxing era. 

“Power punching should mean a lot. It shouldn’t just be jabs,” said Mosley. “You shouldn’t be allowed to get away with throwing jabs and little punches. The big punches are the difference. That’s what should win the fight. It used to.”

Kelsey McCarson is a regular contributor to TheSweetScience.com, BoxingChannel.tv and Bleacher Report.