Monday September 21st, 2009

Throughout a brilliant 16-year professional career, Shane Mosley has always conducted himself with the utmost class. Mild mannered and well spoken, Mosley is a journalist's dream, the kind of athlete you begin an interview feeling ambivalent and end it rooting for him to succeed. Mosley has always been the underdog, a fighter who has spent his life living in the shadow of Oscar De La Hoya (who "Sugar" has defeated twice) and never getting adequate recognition for his achievements.

However, last weekend, Mosley became someone else. After Floyd Mayweather Jr. returned from a 21-month layoff to defeat the world's No. 2-ranked fighter Juan Manuel Marquez in 12 rounds, HBO's Max Kellerman interviewed the victor in the ring. It was supposed to be Mayweather's well-earned moment in the spotlight. It turned into a show of disrespect and arrogance by Mosley.

When Kellerman asked Mayweather about the possibility of facing Mosley next, Mosley -- whose status as a Golden Boy Promotions executive allowed him to be in the ring -- thrust himself into the discussion. Mosley, along with the equally inappropriate Bernard Hopkins, verbally attacked Mayweather, leaving Mayweather flustered and eventually forcing him to storm out of the ring. Later, Mosley and Hopkins continued their eighth-grade bully act when they refused to cede the stage to Mayweather at the post-fight press conference.

Certainly, Mosley can make a strong case that he should be Mayweather's next opponent. His win over Antonio Margarito in January established him as the top pure welterweight in the world (Manny Pacquiao is more of a hybrid, bouncing between 140 and 147 pounds). He also has a crowd-pleasing style and decent fan base, making him a viable pay-per-view fighter, even at 38 years old.

But this wasn't the way to prove his point. Mosley, and the rest of Golden Boy, should be embarrassed by his behavior. The stunt carried with it the permeating odor of a desperate man. Mosley believed his win over Margarito would propel him to multiple lucrative fights this year. But it hasn't, and Mosley has failed to secure deals with Pacquiao, Andre Berto or Zab Judah. With 2009 winding down, Sugar Shane still doesn't have a fight scheduled (a proposed Dec. 26 date was vetoed by HBO). For an aging fighter on the tail-end of his career, that is unacceptable.

So Mosley -- with Hopkins, who never met a camera or microphone he didn't like, acting as his wingman -- resorted to bush-league tactics. Even De La Hoya was complicit, effectively condoning his business partner's behavior by flaunting Mosley's credentials at the press conference and refusing to ask Mosley or Hopkins to back off the stage when Mayweather arrived. De La Hoya called Mosley-Mayweather "the Super Bowl" of fights.

Too bad Mayweather-Pacquiao is the Super Bowl. Mayweather-Mosley is a good playoff game, at best. Only Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer showed any remorse for the antics when he told that he "didn't like those kinds of confrontations" and that he "would have handled the situation differently."

The irony is that Mosley may have irreparably damaged any possibility of a Mayweather fight. Though Mayweather took the high road in declaring his respect for Mosley as a fighter, several members of Mayweather's team were livid at the boorish behavior. Mayweather Promotions CEO Leonard Ellerbe blasted Mosley and said they weren't interested in a fight with Mosley because "he doesn't draw any kind of crowd." Floyd Mayweather Sr., De La Hoya's former trainer who has a long history with Golden Boy, called Mosley a "punk" and said, "[he] isn't worth my son's time."

I have been among Mayweather Jr.'s critics, as I disclosed my feelings about his handpicking opponents and ducking tough contenders. But in this case, Mayweather deserved his time to bask in the success of a near-flawless performance against Marquez. After a nearly two-year layoff, he returned to the ring, and proved he's still got it.

Mosley, however, proved he's lost it.

GALLERY: Best shots from Mayweather-Marquez

GRAHAM: Five things we learned from Saturday's fight

MANNIX: Blow-by-blow analysis of Mayweather-Marquez

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