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Shane Mosley Jr. became a fighter by choice

Thu., Jan. 23, 2014

It’s stitched right there, on the right breast of his warm-up top – words that add up to legacy, burden and target all rolled into one.

“Shane Mosley Jr.,” it reads.

Ninety percent of the young boxers at this week’s USA Boxing Elite National Championships are trying to make a name for themselves. Shane Mosley Jr. already has the name, but he’s still working on the resume – and on establishing that he’s not in the family business simply because he’s, you know, family.

Funny how all the battles in boxing aren’t necessarily fought inside the ring.

In this corner, Sugar Shane’s kid.

In the other corner, his own man.

“When I told my dad I wanted to do this,” Mosley recalled, “he said, ‘OK, but it has to be something that you want to do for yourself, not for me. I’ll support you, but you have to do your best.’ ”

But in boxing, the other guy’s best might be better. Mosley ran into just such an opponent Wednesday night, Jonathan Esquivel of Anaheim – USA Boxing’s third-ranked 165-pounder – pounding out a unanimous 3-0 decision in the quarterfinals at the HUB Sports Center, bringing an end to Mosley’s tournament.

But he had lots of reputable company.

Jennifer Hamann of Seattle, last year’s 125-pound women’s champ, saw her chances of a repeat end in a split-decision upset by Kristin Carlson of Carol Stream, Ill. An hour later in the same ring, defending 141-pound women’s champ Bertha Aracil of New York also lost. Men’s 201-pound champ Michael Hilton went down, too.

At 23, the clock might be ticking on Shane Mosley Jr.’s Olympic hopes. But there are other aspirations.

“No matter if I win or lose, this is going to be my career,” he said.

His father’s career, of course, was nothing short of spectacular. Shane Mosley won world titles in three weight classes – lightweight, welterweight and light middleweight – for nearly all the alphabet soup governing bodies. He won two fiercely contested – and hotly debated – decisions over Oscar De La Hoya, and reclaimed his welterweight title at age 37 with a stunning knockout upset of Antonio Margarito. He was, alas, considerably past his prime when he finally got in the ring with both Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao before retiring for a second – and presumably last – time at age 42.

His son is one of his second-career projects as a trainer, though it was the younger boxer’s grandfather, Jack, who was in his corner in Spokane. Shane Mosley landed Tuesday in the Philippines to help raise money for Yolanda typhoon victims as part of United Boxing Relief Funds.

“His father’s not hard on him like I was hard on his father,” Jack Mosley said. “But his father has other ideas, so what are you going to do? He’s his father.”

Funny, that’s what people always want to say about the son – or maybe what they relish not saying.

“Everybody expects me to be great,” Mosley said. “It’s ‘He’s Shane Mosley’s son, he should be knocking guys silly.’ It’s not necessarily going to be like that. I’m not my father and I’m not fighting to be like him.

“If they don’t see me beating these guys up they’ll say, ‘Oh, he ain’t nothing.’ If I was just another guy they might be saying, ‘He’s pretty good.’ ”

The truth is, Mosley hasn’t made much of a mark nationally as an amateur – losing in the first round here a year ago, and in his second fight this time. In Esquivel, he ran up against a more aggressive and polished opponent,whose urgent combinations scored more than Mosley’s single shots.

But he’s also a late starter. Despite that family influence – Jack, 70, has trained boxers for more than 35 years – Mosley didn’t take up the sport in earnest until he was 16.

“It wasn’t that I resisted it,” he said. “But my mom and all the women in my family would say, ‘Oh, you’re too pretty, you should be a model.’ ”

It was his friends who urged him back to the gym he’d abandoned as an 8-year-old, and soon enough he latched on to the same Olympic aspirations most of the boxers in Spokane claim as “a way to achieve greatness on my own.

“But my father wants me to turn pro, and I’m starting to think I don’t have to go to the Olympics to make my mark. And let’s say I do wait until the (Olympic) trials and come up short. That’s two years I could have been using to build my resume as a professional.”

He has work to do in either case, though maybe more on his skills than his psyche.

“If you don’t believe in yourself, it doesn’t mean anything,” he said. “Mayweather, Pacquiao, my dad – all these guys believe they can take down King Kong and Superman at once. And that’s what makes them great.”

In that case, there are worse ways to go than emulating the old man.

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