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OTHER: Sugar Shane Mosley

Featured in Freestyle Volume 06 2008. Interview by Cristian Diaz.

The names Sugar Shane and Billy the Kid don’t seem out of place at a comic book convention next to Batman and Robin, as this duo also knocks the shit out of random villains for a living, all be it under the flashing lights of Vegas and in the confounds of a professional boxing ring. Sugar Shane Mosley needs no introduction for this exclusive interview but maybe an extravagant entrance as he is accompanied by his Robin, Billy “The Kid” Dib. These boys take a rare breather from training and sit down with me to discuss Billy’s plans for boxing domination, Mundine and street fighting.

Nice to finally see you down under Sugar...

Shane: Yeah it’s my first time here and I’m really enjoying this beautiful weather; it's all been real nice so far.

Unfortunately we won’t be seeing your skills in the ring, so then what brings you down to our shores?

Shane: My man here Billy the Kid! He has always wanted me to come down to Australia, so now as he is preparing for the IBO world title I'm down here to support him and to obviously see him win it.

How did Billy first become your apprentice and a member of the exclusive Golden Boy establishment?

Shane: It started a while ago actually through a friend of mine who is really close with Prince Naseem, this was during the time that Billy was training with Naseem. He told me I should check out this fighter from Australia and I just remember the first time he came down we even sparred together. I saw that he had these tricks here and there and overall he was pretty good. I could see from the beginning with the way he spoke, his personality and overall motivation to want to be a world champion, that he had the drive mixed with the talent and I could easily see a world champion, so we signed him up.

Can the “kid” (no pun intended), be Australia’s greatest fighter?

Shane: Billy can be as good as he wants to be, the sky is the limit. He can definitely be the greatest Australian fighter. Billy also really stands out with his fighting style as it’s very unique and different to any other fighter in Australia which makes him stand out even more.

On the subject of Australian boxers, what’s your opinion of their fighting styles?

Shane: The Australian fighters are different, they’re more brawlers and Americans love that trait in the sport of boxing. But I can’t really categorise them as being all the same, as then you also got a fighter like Anthony Mundine who is more of a classic style of boxer.

With Mundine, he seems to be a character that you either love or hate as everyone in Oz seems to have an opinion on him, be it a positive or a negative one, what’s your view on him and boxing politics?

Shane: There’s good publicity and there’s bad publicity, but at the end of the day its all publicity and you know he's making top dollar now because of it. Everything that I’ve seen of him and of all the times I’ve been around him he seems like a great guy, he's cool and very much humble. You have to also understand that when you get into that ring you have to reach a certain mentality or even change your persona where you do things that you may not normally do. Outside the ring you could be relaxed and chilled out but when you get in the ring you feel some sort of adrenaline rush where you have to say different things and be a certain way with your cockiness in order to make you a better fighter. I mean, Bernard Hopkins is a personal friend of mine and he is a very classy guy but you always notice that every time he's going into a fight he will always say something crazy or out of left field but that’s his way of getting psyched up and going into his insanity mode where mentally he's telling the other guy “I’m going to win and you’re going to lose”. I remember once when he said at a press conference that, “I would never let a white boy beat me”, which you could imagine caused so much controversy at the time.

Billy: It’s like when Ali fought Sonny Liston he was making all this noise but when they checked his pulse it was like he was about to die on the spot, so really he was just doing that to mentally get himself prepared to go into battle, and that’s exactly what Mundine does. Like Shane was saying he is all humble but once he steps into the media eye he has to convince everyone that he can do this, including himself.

What are your techniques? Trash talk or deadly stare?

Shane: Every fighter is different but when I’m going into my mode I know in my mind that no one can beat me, I just don’t voice it out loud and say that I am the best, which is my form of tactic. It’s really just like a game of chess, as you can beat a guy mentally even before you hop in that ring. Bernard Hopkins, Mike Tyson and Ali have all done it.

Billy: I have visualised the fight a millions times before the fight has even started, I already know what I’m going to do. Boxing is all about two guys coming into the ring with a game plan, so I always prepare my game plan to outdo my opponent. When I step into the ring I make sure that I have the perfect game plan and if it's not I make sure that I quickly change it to something else. I never ever think that it may go wrong or that I might lose; I never let those two things even enter my mind, I always step into the ring knowing that I am going to win and that’s why I am still undefeated and 20-0!

Has your state of mind changed dramatically since you were coming up through the ranks to having the reputation of a legend in the sport? And can this “untouchable” mentality backfire?

Shane: It can easily backfire on you when you become the champion. When you become the champion you have to train even harder because you’re now the one that has all these opponents trying to dethrone you and with that comes an extra added pressure to maintain your position.

Billy: Yeah it’s true that you have to train harder and train like the challenger, not the champion, no matter how many world titles you hold.

Shane: It’s funny with the way that I came up because it’s very similar to Billy’s story, with both our mentality and fight record.

Billy: Except Shane was the champion when he 26 whereas I’m going to be the champion at 22 ay Shane? Sorry bro I gotta beat you in something…

Shane: Ha-ha yeah that’s true!

Tell me more about a young Sugar Shane growing up on the streets of Cali? Were you a crazy little trouble maker beating every kid up for his lunch money?

Shane: It kind of changed for me when I started boxing because I stoped being aggressive as far as the street fighting was concerned because I was actually really scared at a young age with the damage that I could do.

So were you always in ‘Bruce Lee’ style scenarios where other fighters tried to challenge you on the street because of your rep?

When I was a young amateur boxer and had street fights it sometimes ended real bad, for the other guy that is. So I never really got into street fighting that much as I always had more of a concern for the damage that I would cause my opponent. It just doesn’t happen like that in the ring because when I’m fighting a professional he knows how to take a hit but on the street it’s different. Most of my fights that happened like that on the street were in elementary school but when I started Junior high school then everybody knew about me and they respected it. It didn’t matter if they were gangsters or whatever. If I went to a party and was just hanging out, they knew that even if they were a lot bigger than me not to mess around, but I wasn’t going around being all cocky either I was just going out, doing my thing and being myself no matter where I was.

Is that why you got into boxing as a kid? Cause you had a talent on beating the shit out of others? Or did you always want to become a professional boxer?

Actually no, I was about eight years old and I just had so much energy so my mother told my dad to take me to the gym to let me box and to hopefully lose some energy so I could sleep. Even when I was in kindergarden and they made all the other kids sleep I was riding around the class in a tricycle because I just couldn’t sleep. So about after a month of going to the gym I was already beating the guys that had been there for over 2 years, so I entered a few amateur fights here and there and ended up wining the state title when I was 9 years old.

Is that where “Sugar” was born?

Yeah, a lot of world champions would train there at Pomona. It’s kind of a gym thing to give other fighters nicknames, so guys like Mike Weaver, Richard and Alberto Sandoval thought my fighting style was like “Sugar Ray” so they gave me the name “Sugar Shane”, so even when I was 10 years old they were announcing me before a fight as Sugar Shane Mosley and the same with Oscar De La Hoya.

You’ve been battling with Oscar since you were kids, and you’ve always had his number. Do you ever just look at him and say as a joke, “man I can kick your ass and I’ve got the titles to prove it”?

Shane: Ha-ha, no Oscar is my good friend and business partner. We have known each other for such a long time now; I’m talking about 28 years, which is basically all my life. I think I was 7 or 8 when I first saw him and he didn’t even want to be a boxer, his dad would make him train and be real strict. I remember Oscar wouldn’t say much, he would just sit back and let others talk, but he always worked and trained very hard and that’s why he has had such a successful career.

Toughest opponent you faced in the ring?

“Winky” Wright was the toughest because of his size and his defensive type of style.

If you could have a fantasy fight with anyone that was either dead or alive, in any weight division, who would you go up against?

I would have to say Sugar Ray Leonard. That would definitely be my choice.

How would that fight score?

Billy: Shane would tear him up!

Shane: I think I was stronger than he was at his age, he would do some good things in the fight but I’d also give him some problems.

Do you ever look at a heavy weight and say to yourself “I can take him”?

Shane: I know my limits in regards to weight difference and believe me that it really makes a difference!

Billy: A Lennox Lewis at Sugar’s weight he would probably tear him up or maybe even a Mike Tyson at his weight he would tear up, but you have to understand that in reality he would be fighting someone that is 100kg heavier which is crazy. Trust me you don’t want that. We would be like, “Mike, we are friends and just let it be”.

Tyson is similar to Mundine in the sense that he has such a reputation with the media, what’s your view on Iron Mike?

Shane: Mike’s also another real nice guy; last time I spoke to him was probably a month ago in Vegas. We hung out and he told me he really didn’t want me fighting Zab Judah, because both Mike and Zab and from Brooklyn so he was kind of in-between two minds with the fight.

I remember asking Billy when he first got in the ring with you if he felt overwhelmed for a few rounds, but now that you guys are like brothers do you really let loose and start to open up on each other?

Shane: Well I’m bigger than Billy so I’m expecting to take the harder shot but we look at each other as more of a big brother/ little brother thing, so I would never try to do anything to really cause damage or to push it; I just couldn’t do it. I try to push him more with the work and make him tired, but we both respect each other when we spar.

Billy: Not taking anything away from myself but when I’m in the ring with him I’m in the ring with a legend, so all I’m doing is learning off him and advancing to his calibre. So even though we're not laying into each other, he's still letting me know he is there and constantly applying the pressure, and that element itself makes sparring with him very tiring.

Sugar still got speed?

Billy: Definitely.

Well best of luck to both you boys in your next battle, especially you Billy, all of Oz is counting on you to tear shit up. Sugar, some last wise words for the future of boxing out there?

Shane: The best advice for any future boxer would be to apply yourself completely and stay disciplined. It's really also important to believe in yourself that you can become the world champion because once you lose the belief in yourself then your not going to make it. Regardless if you have great power or great speed it doesn’t mean anything if you do have it up there mentally. That controls all your motor skills, so once you got it all together then you can achieve it all.

To find out more about Sugar Shane Mosley, visit www.sugarshanemosley.com
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