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Mosley thinks past Mayorga

The 37-year-old is favored tonight, but getting a marquee matchup next isn't so easy.

September 27, 2008|Lance Pugmire | Times Staff Writer

Ten months ago, in the despair of a hard-fought unanimous-decision loss to then-world welterweight champion Miguel Cotto, Pomona's Shane Mosley admitted retirement crossed his mind. He resolved instead to fight on, insisting he'd restrict his future bouts only to major events.

Mosley (44-5, 37 knockouts) was pitted in a non-title fight against another veteran beaten by Cotto, Zab Judah. But when Judah was injured in a training camp tantrum, Mosley's May bout was canceled. Now, his 37th birthday has passed and he's heading to the ring tonight at Home Depot Center's 7,000-seat tennis venue against veteran super-welterweight Ricardo Mayorga. In a non-pay-per-view fight against a man who has lost three of his last six bouts, former four-time world champion Mosley is a 9-to-1 favorite still striving for an elusive bigger fight.

Last week, he inserted his name as a possible opponent for current welterweight champion Antonio Margarito, who dethroned Cotto in June. But the promoter of Cotto and Margarito, Top Rank, wants to schedule each of them against lesser foes in a January doubleheader and then have their rematch later in 2009.

Mosley "could be in the picture" to fight the Cotto-Margarito winner in late 2009, a Top Rank publicist said. Top Rank rejected Mosley's immediate interest in a Cotto rematch. Mosley's promoter, Richard Schaefer, said his fighter will immediately "call out" the retired Floyd Mayweather Jr. if victorious.

"That's truly the mega-event," Schaefer said. Contacted Friday, Mayweather's manager, Leonard Ellerbe, said: "Floyd's enjoying his retirement. He has no interest in fighting Shane Mosley or anyone else."

The question, as it was nearly a decade ago when the pride of "P-town" was a rising star knocking out nearly every man he fought, is: What big name does want to fight Mosley?

Until Oscar De La Hoya made the leap (and lost) to Mosley in 2000, several other top fighters avoided the speedy, power-punching fighter who was a world champion at 25. He was "too good for his own good," boxing experts said. Problems with past promoters didn't help. His prime was spent (wasted?) routing Willy Wise, Adrian Stone and Shannan Taylor.

Now, post-Cotto, retirement could be one knockout loss away -- Mayorga is brazenly predicting a KO victory by the end of Round 3 -- and an impressive showing tonight appears essential for Mosley.

"This fight is my first step to the next step," Mosley said.

Mosley's popularity has been dinged by less-than-stellar pay-per-view sales with Cotto -- eclipsed by Cotto-Margarito -- along with his current steroid-related lawsuits against BALCO founder Victor Conte and by his former trainer Derryl Hudson.

"Cotto wouldn't take another big fight with me, Judah got hurt, and I couldn't sit around and wait," Mosley said. "I decided to go to Mayorga . . . and I get to do it in my own backyard."

Schaefer says he'll find that big bout for Mosley, cautioning "every fight is tough to make."Mayorga (29-6-1, 23 KOs) boasts he'll end Mosley's career tonight. "Mosley's speed is gone already," he said.

If Mayweather Jr. doesn't bite, Mosley's next-opponent options include once-beaten middleweight Paul Williams, a third bout against Vernon Forrest, or a third date with De La Hoya, Schaefer said.

"I don't care about belts anymore, but I do care about . . . the win that gives me the most respect," Mosley said.

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lance.pugmire@latimes.com

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FIGHT FACTS

Who: Shane Mosley (44-5, 37 KO) vs.

Ricardo Mayorga (29-6-1, 23 KOs)

When: Tonight, 7:30; HBO

Where: Home Depot Center, Carson

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