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Head Strong

Mosley adopts an angry attitude for his welterweight title rematch with Forrest

July 18, 2002|STEVE SPRINGER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

INDIANAPOLIS — A short but powerful summer storm swept through this city Wednesday morning, venting its fury against all that stood in its path. The rain, pelting the window of Shane Mosley's room in a downtown high-rise hotel, served as a perfect backdrop for the mood of the former boxing champion as he discussed Saturday's welterweight title rematch against Vernon Forrest at Conseco Fieldhouse.

Mosley wore his trademark smile, but beneath the surface, and not very far beneath it at that, there also is a storm raging, fueled by anger and frustration over his loss to Forrest in January.

Mosley, gracious and easy going until the defeat, says no mas.

"I am too nice a guy," he said. "But this [defeat] has opened my eyes."

Like the storm outside, Mosley was venting his fury at all sorts of targets in his path, zeroing in on:

* Forrest, whom he accused of beating him in the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York with an illegal head butt, which, Mosley claims, Forrest was secretly taught by a former trainer of Evander Holyfield.

"It's not right for him to boast that he beat Shane Mosley," the Pomona fighter said of Forrest, "when he didn't beat me the right way, with class and honor. How can you feel good about something you didn't earn?"

* Cedric Kushner, Mosley's former promoter, who Mosley said still owes him $600,000 from the first fight against Forrest.

* Lou DiBella, an advisor to Forrest who is telling anyone and everyone he meets that Forrest will knock Mosley out Saturday. Mosley called DiBella a fair-weather advisor who will be back in his camp after he emerges victorious.

Few outside the Forrest camp had any doubt Mosley would emerge victorious in the first fight. He entered the ring 38-0 with 35 knockouts, had won the International Boxing Federation lightweight title, successfully defended it eight times, then moved up two weight classes and beat Oscar De La Hoya for the World Boxing Council welterweight crown two years ago.

Mosley defended that title three times before Forrest took it from him by unanimous decision.

Although he is 34-0 with 26 knockouts, Forrest has never enjoyed the acclaim of Mosley, who was at or near the top of most lists of the best pound-for-pound fighters until January. Forrest won the IBF welterweight championship with a decision over Raul Frank last year.

Against Mosley, whom he also had beaten in their amateur days, Forrest gained the edge after a second-round head butt, knocked Mosley down twice in that round and won a clear decision.

Afterward, in the ring and in the ensuing months, Mosley was the perfect gentleman. He complimented Forrest, conceded he was the better man that night and campaigned hard for a rematch.

But Mosley said that all changed when he began working with a former Forrest sparring partner, whom Mosley refused to identify.

One day at Mosley's Big Bear training site, the sparring partner told him the head butt was a planned tactic, according to Mosley.

"What are you talking about?" Mosley asked the sparring partner.

"He did it on purpose. They practiced that," the sparring partner replied, according to Mosley, going on to describe secret head-butting sessions staged for Holyfield and other Atlanta-area fighters by a trainer Mosley said has since died.

According to Mosley, Forrest would throw his left jab outside to force Mosley to go to his right. If Mosley moved too far right, he would be susceptible to Forrest's right hand. If Mosley instead moved to the center, he would be in perfect position to receive the head butt.

Mosley also accused Forrest of excessive holding and throwing a low blow that hit him on the spot where he has a scar from a hernia operation.

As expected, the Forrest camp laughed off the accusations. The idea of a secret head-butting camp run by a trainer nobody would identify and a sparring partner who wouldn't come forward drew nothing but scorn from Forrest trainer Al Mitchell.

'Who would teach that?" Mitchell said of the head-butt strategy. "That's not [co-trainer] Ronnie Shields' style. That's not my style. If you believe everything Mosley is saying, Vernon is going to bring everything but a gun into the ring.

"Maybe because he lost so bad in the first fight, Shane is trying to find something to sell tickets, to convince people it will be close this time."

Mosley claims Kushner received site-fee money belonging to Mosley, but spent it instead on his other fighters.

"I think there's a difference of opinion," Kushner said. "It's not the first time the Mosleys [Shane and father/trainer Jack] and I have had a difference of opinion on financial matters. The Mosleys and I have always resolved these things amicably. It doesn't behoove either of us to go to court. Whatever is due Shane, he will receive."

As for DiBella, who formerly negotiated with Mosley as an HBO executive, Mosley said, "He flip-flops so much, it's ridiculous. After the fight, he'll probably flip-flop to be back on my team."

Wednesday's rainstorm was gone in half an hour, leaving calm weather in its wake. The storm within Mosley, however, is expected to last until Saturday, if not longer.

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