Sunday, May 8, 2011
Shane Mosley's defeat is end of an era
By Arash Markazi ESPNLosAngeles.com
LAS VEGAS -- I watched boxing the day of my grandfather's funeral.
It was a blistering Saturday in late June and I wore a black suit. I sat beside my grieving father in his bedroom and we watched Oscar De La Hoya and "Sugar" Shane Mosley punch each other for 12 rounds and cried.
It was a cathartic experience, highlighting what boxing and the local fighters meant to me.
It was 11 years ago, but that day, that fight and those feelings are still raw whenever I see Mosley fight.
He's the last connection to an era of Los Angeles boxing that made me a fight fan and lured a shy kid from the San Fernando Valley into dingy boxing gyms on weekends. I would spar with friends while we mimicked Mosley, De La Hoya, Fernando Vargas and Antonio Margarito.
It was a golden age in the area where the best fights were taking place between boxers from East Los Angeles, Pomona, Oxnard and Torrance.
Shane Mosley didn't have much beyond the third round in Saturday's bout with Manny Pacquiao.
Not only did we know who these guys were, we watched them grow up. We trained in the same gyms as they did. We knew their trainers and friends. They represented Los Angeles in a way we had never been represented before.
They were fighters. They were tough. They were genuine.
One by one, however, those fighters and those moments have become nothing more than distant memories.
As a winded 39-year-old Mosley sat in his corner after the 11th round of his brutally one-sided, unanimous-decision loss to Manny Pacquaio on Saturday night, I couldn't help but think it wasn't just Mosley's career that was coming to an end.
When Mosley retires, it will mark the end of marquee prizefights involving Los Angeles fighters who helped usher in a new generation of fans but may not have brought with them the next generation of fighters.
Perhaps the void of marquee Los Angeles fighters is merely a reflection of the overall lack of marquee fighters and fights left in boxing. After all, outside the long-delayed fight between Floyd Mayweather and Pacquaio, is there a fight -- or even two fighters -- who would stir casual fight fans?
No one has benefited more from the stalled Mayweather-Pacquiao talks than Mosley. He has parlayed their inability to come to an agreement into two big paydays. He fought Mayweather last year and Pacquaio on Saturday. Over the course of both fights, which went the distance, Mosley was essentially shut out in 22 of the 24 rounds against the sport's top two fighters, and it wasn't even that close.
After Pacquiao knocked down Mosley with a left hook in the third round, Mosley failed to aggressively engage Pacquiao again and went into survival mode. He kept his streak of never having a fight stopped intact, but by the looks of the judges' score cards, that was the only silver lining of the evening for him.
Pacquiao won by a landslide, 120-108 on one score card, 120-107 on another and 119-108 on the third.
Los Angeles has slowly seen its fighters fall by the wayside over the past three years, and Pacquiao has often played the role of spoiler. He ended the career of a 35-year-old De La Hoya in 2008, beat up a 33-year-old Margarito in 2010 and likely sent 39-year-old Mosley into retirement Saturday.
De La Hoya's legendary career came to an end three years ago when Pacquiao beat him so badly, De La Hoya's corner stopped the fight after the eighth round. After the fight, De La Hoya told his former trainer Freddie Roach, who now trains Pacquiao, "You're right Freddie. I don't have it anymore." Afterward he told reporters, "My heart still wants to fight, that's for sure, but when your physical doesn't respond, what can you do? I have to be smart and make sure I think about my future plans."
Mosley sounded similarly realistic about his future in the ring after Saturday's fight, saying, "I guess sometimes Father Time catches up with you."
Wearing dark sunglasses that failed to hide his swollen face, Mosley wasn't prepared to officially retire, saying only that he would look forward to a nice, long break.
"Vacation," he said. "Relaxation and enjoying myself and enjoying the fruits of my labor."
Roach said he believes Mosley was already on vacation during the fight and seemed upset with his inactivity after the third round.
"De La Hoya at least gave a better fight than Shane," Roach said. "I think this is the time to retire. He got his last payday and he made some good money. Before he gets hurt he needs to quit."
While the end of Mosley's career will close a golden era in Los Angeles boxing, Roach, who owns the famed Wild Card Boxing Club in Hollywood, doesn't believe it signals the end of Los Angeles fighters making their mark on the sport. But it does highlight a larger problem for the sport.
"I think we have some good prospects in L.A., but boxing in general is just not as popular as it was in the past," Roach said. "When L.A. was in its prime, you had the best fighters in the world here. Will we see that era again? I don't think so. It would be nice, but I don't see that happening."
Arash Markazi is a columnist and writer for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter.