By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
Yet much of what Shane remembers from those days took place outside of the ring -- and the United States. A big perk of the amateur boxing world is travel, and he still talks excitedly about his globetrotting experiences. "Having never really been outside the area where I lived, going around the world to places like Italy, Poland and East Germany was incredible, especially because we had a little free time, and we could explore some and just observe people, which is what I do anyway, but to experience those other cultures, that was a great experience."
AS THEY WERE WITH DE LA HOYA AND SO MANY OTHER BOXERS, THE OLYMPIC Games -- especially the gold medal -- are often a launching pad to success in the professional world. Mosley was the heavy favorite going into the 1992 Olympic trials. But it was the first year the controversial touch-pad scoring system was used, and Jack still believes that it cost Shane -- who lost to the lanky Forrest -- a spot on the Olympic team. In retrospect, it was clearly a turning point in his career. "At the time I didn't think much of it, just another tough loss and that was it," says Shane. "But looking back, I can sure see how my life would have been different if I did go and maybe win the gold like I'd always planned."
Without Olympic gold, fighters turn pro quietly. After the loss to Forrest, the Mosleys' options were limited. "Some people made us offers, but not like we'd expected, and we ended up going with a local guy, Patrick Ortiz," recalls Jack, who made the decision. The business of boxing is all about power and connections, and Ortiz proved to be a small fish in a murky, shark-filled pond. His lack of national connections rendered him impotent in trying ä to get Shane the type of fights that would showcase his talents.
Inside the ring, Shane was developing a more aggressive approach, focused on knockouts. "When I turned pro," he says, "I vowed never to lose a fight because I didn't give everything I had, and knocking people out was part of that, not leaving any chance for the judges to get involved. As a pro, you fight for your livelihood, and also to provide for others, so I definitely took my competitive nature up a whole other level." With 32 KO's in 34 fights, Shane has been giving far more than receiving, and is quite candid about that as well: "It feels good when I hit a guy with a clean shot, because it means I'm doing things right, and the result tells me that."
He was doing the right thing when he got the chance, but the Mosleys were getting increasingly frustrated at what they saw as Ortiz's inability to make deals. "I was wiping guys out in the ring and tearing better guys up in sparring, and we couldn't get a real fight, so you can imagine how I felt," says Shane. For a moment, it looked as though Top Rank's Bob Arum, whose work with De La Hoya is a blueprint on how to build a talented young fighter, would come to their rescue. "They needed help and I'd followed Shane, so I knew he was a quality kid and certainly talented as hell." In the end, Arum says, he was unable to help the Mosleys because of their contract with Ortiz.
For his part, Ortiz doesn't want to talk about the issue. "I really don't like to comment about that stuff that happened in the past. I wish Shane all the best. Sure there were issues towards the end of our relationship, but again, I will just say no comment about all of it and appreciate the opportunity you gave me to talk about it, but I'd much rather talk about the fight, which I think Shane will win in the later rounds."
Eventually, unable to resolve his issues with Ortiz, Shane simply waited out his contract, working out downtown at the L.A. Boxing Gym, learning, and stewing. "That was definitely the low point for me as a pro, working with world champions like Azumah Nelson, Genaro Hernandez and Zack Padilla at the gym and more than holding my own, then not being able to fight, having to be patient."
Mosley had fought 16 times in 1993 and '94, knocking out all but one opponent, but made less than $50,000 in purses. Embroiled in the contract squabble for most of '95 and '96, he fought only five times, earning around $15,000 in the two years, minus expenses, which are considerable for a fighter. All told, in his first four years as a pro, Mosley went 21-0 with 20 KO's, yet earned only $65,000 or so. Subtract taxes and expenses, and you're looking at close to minimum wage.
When Shane's contractual obligations to Ortiz ended in early 1997, the Mosleys signed not with the gun-shy promoter Arum but with a local adviser-consultant, Tom Loeffler of Mouthpiece Promotions. Loeffler was connected enough to quickly secure a few fights, then put the Mosleys in touch with Cedric Kushner, a South African who had begun promoting rock concerts before moving into boxing. No Arum or Don King, Kushner was nevertheless powerful enough to arrange a title shot for Mosley in fairly short order. The fight was August 2, 1997, on HBO, against the undefeated International Boxing Federation champion, a slick boxer named Phillip Holiday, who had successfully defended his title five times.