Mosley at Staples: Can he do it a third time?
De La Hoya was America's fighter, the 1992 gold-medal winner whose appeal to Mexican Americans was undeniable, and hasn't been seen since. Mosley was a '92 Olympic Games also-ran from Pomona who was respected as a fighter but lacked the marquee appeal.
"It was a big night," Mosley recalled this week in preparation for his third fight at Staples, Saturday night in an HBO pay-per-view bout against junior-middleweight Sergio Mora. "I knew I had to do something special to beat Oscar here in L.A. I understood this was my biggest platform yet and that I was fighting a guy who was carrying the sport on his shoulders."
Said De La Hoya: "I respected him, I had known him since we were kids. He was another fighter no one wanted to fight, and I was like that kid Mikey on the old breakfast cereal commercial, with people saying, 'Ask Oscar, Oscar will fight him.' I knew it'd be a tough fight."
Mosley endured the pressure, and let loose in the late championship rounds to claim a split-decision upset.
"The will to win, that's what he proved to me," De La Hoya recalled this week outside Staples Center, where a statue of him (not Mosley) stands. "Everybody has their moments, and that was his. Shane Mosley is one of the all-time greats."
Yet, age had apparently diminished Mosley in January 2009, when he climbed into the Staples Center ring again to fight world welterweight champion Antonio Margarito after a lackluster showing against veteran Ricardo Mayorga.
"A lot of people had counted me out," Mosley said. "I wanted to show I'm not going to be counted out."
After Margarito had plaster-caked inserts confiscated from his hand wraps before the fight, Mosley pounded the forward-charging fighter from Tijuana and won by ninth-round TKO.
Now, Mosley's back for his third Staples date four months after getting dominated by Floyd Mayweather Jr. in Las Vegas. The talk (not whispers) is that Mosley, at age 39, might be done even if he is a 3-to-1 favorite against Mora, 29. They'll weigh in Friday at 3 p.m. at L.A. Live.
"Now, Sergio Mora's feeling that added pressure that I felt against Oscar, I have to be aware of that," Mosley said. "But I still have that burning desire to fight. I'm not taking this guy lightly. Every time you step into that ring, you have to prove yourself."
De La Hoya, who is promoting the fight, said that's what makes Saturday's match an event worth watching.
"This could be Sergio Mora's coming out party, but when you fight Shane Mosley, you never know what's going to happen," De La Hoya said. "Because of that will to win."
-- Lance Pugmire
Photo: Shane Mosley , left, faces Sergio Mora during a boxing news conference as Oscar De La Hoya, president of Golden Boy Promotions, watches Wednesday. Credit: Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press