When news first dropped about boxing legend Roberto Duran training Sugar Shane Mosley for his upcoming fight, there were rumors that it would be for a championship title. Turns out, those rumors were true.
On May 28th, Mosley will be facing interim WBA welterweight titlist David Avanesyan on a CBS Sports-net televised card promoted by Mosley’s company GoBox Promotions. Avanesyan, a 21-1 fighter from Russia, won the interim title against Charlie Navarro last November and will be fighting for the first time on American soil. He’s fought decent (not world class) opposition throughout his career, and will be 27-years-old by the time he steps in the ring. Mosley will be 44.
"I'm glad people know this is a real competitive fight," Mosley said in an interview. "It will be a challenge, but when I win, the world will know."
Later on social media, the future hall-of-famer appeared even more confident of his prospects.
"I plan to put on a clinic," Mosley wrote on social media. "I'm not just gonna win. I'm going to annihilate him. In 2009 they said I was done. #Wrong."
While the match may appear competitive on paper, the fact that it is being held for any form of a championship is symptomatic of a number of problems currently plaguing the sport of boxing. First is the fact that there is already an active WBA champion in the welterweight division named Keith Thurman. While it is true that his highly anticipated matchup against Shawn Porter was pushed back due to injuries suffered in a car accident, it has since been rescheduled for June of this year, and the original bout approved by the sanctioning body. So it wasn’t as if Thurman left the division or decided to fight an unranked opponent (as are the more common circumstances for an interim champion), rather one of the better welterweight matchups in the sport has merely been postponed.
This is one example of what has become an unfortunate habit of the WBA. Of the 17 weight divisions in professional boxing, the WBA lists two or more champions for 10 of those divisions, and at times they have upwards of three listed champions for a given weight (Interim, Regular, and Super World). Add to the fact that there is three other recognized sanctioning bodies, and the title of a “champion” becomes further muddled and meaningless. In this era of boxing, there needs to be fewer champions, not more.
The second issue is how Shane Mosley earned a title shot at this stage of his career. He hasn’t had a welterweight fight since 2013 and his last significant fight in the division was a decision loss against Manny Pacquiao in 2011. How a pair of wins over the virtually unknown Patrick Lopez, and a 2015 version of Ricard Mayorga at middleweight somehow warrants a welterweight title fight is beyond me. The only real plausible explanation is that Mosley earned the shot on the basis of name recognition and leveraging his industry connections. The fight is more of a display of how one can maneuver the inner-workings of the sport to their advantage, rather than finding the best fighter of a given division.
I have nothing but the utmost respect for Shane Mosley and what he’s done for the sport of boxing. He is arguably one of the greatest lightweights to have ever laced up a pair, and I will always be thankful for the way he handled the unscrupulous behavior of Antonio Margarito. There is no doubt that Mosley has earned the right to exit the sport gracefully and with pride. But championships in boxing are meant to inform the public of the sport’s best; they are based on current fighting merit, not sentimentality. Mosley’s ability to earn a title shot now is a step back for boxing, not forward.
Check out these related stories:
The Mixed Martial Arts of Victorian London
Before BJJ, there was Bartitsu.
Jonathan Maicelo: The Last Inca
Peru's up-and-coming boxing star.
Kron Gracie on Jiu-Jitsu, Skateboarding, Older Brothers, and Famous Fathers
The ties that bind are strong.
Joel Tudor on the Art of Surfing, Fighting, and Style
A surf icon helps MMA keep its sense of tradition.
Japan's Karate Kid: Kyoji Horiguchi
Japan's brightest MMA prospect.