Boxing always promotes the physical. Muscle over mind. Testosterone over thinking.
Nothing wrong with that. It's not supposed to be bridge or chess. You don't bring tea and crumpets. You bring smelling salts and sutures.
But every once in awhile, state of mind can play as big a role in the outcome as state of mayhem. A case could be made for that when Shane Mosley fights Antonio Margarito in a welterweight title bout Saturday night at Staples Center.
As far as we know, the state of Margarito's mind will be where it has been for all but a few of his battles in a career that has produced a 37-5 record with 27 knockouts. He is the Tijuana Time Bomb, as likely to break your jaw as your heart.
His most recent victory was a knockout of Miguel Cotto in July. Cotto was thought to be invincible. Margarito's victory was convince-able.
About Mosley, at 37 and seven years his senior, Margarito says, "I'll figure him out and I'll get him. If he comes to fight, that's what we'll do. We'll just fight."
Mosley always comes to fight. His 45-5 record includes two career-changing victories over Oscar De La Hoya, the first at Staples. He has proved to be fast, durable and always game.
But Mosley has never proved he can carry as heavy a load with him into the ring as he will this time.
His trainer will be Nazim Richardson, new in his corner. Richardson trains 44-year-old boxing marvel Bernard Hopkins, who along with Mosley is a member of De La Hoya's lucrative Golden Boy promotions business.
Richardson may work out fine, but the man in Mosley's corner for most of his career has been truly the man, his dad, Jack Mosley, who started his son in the sweet science at age 8.
Mosley explains their split-up succinctly.
"We were butting heads a little bit," he says.
"He's going to use Bernard's trainer, and you know how Oscar and Bernard and Shane are all in this thing together," he says. "Every time one of them fights, all three get paid big. All those guys are going to be multimillionaires."
The senior Mosley, still living in Pomona and training fighters, remains loyal and supportive. He says he'll be at the fight Saturday night and expects Shane to be even better than ever because doctors recently fixed a nasal blockage that was causing a loss of as much as 60% of his oxygen flow.
Pressed a bit on the real reason behind his departure from Mosley's corner, Jack Mosley says, "I was trainer and manager until Shane got married. Then, you know how that goes. The woman moved in and things changed."
Which brings up potential mental burden No. 2 for Mosley. Shane and his wife, Jin, are going through marital problems.
This represents more than your usual marital upheaval because, besides being the mother of three of Shane's children, Jin Mosley is among the more interesting people you'll ever meet. She is a New Yorker, part Korean, part Irish, both business savvy and business feisty, who has been at the wheel of the ship as Mosley's career sailed nicely forward for the last six or seven years.
"Shane is now managing his own affairs," says Richard Schaefer, chief executive of Golden Boy Promotions.
Then, pile BALCO on top of all this and one wonders how Mosley even sleeps at night, much less trains and focuses for a fight against a guy who, given the chance, could stomp him.
BALCO is the name of the lab in Northern California, run by Victor Conte. It sold and distributed various performance-enhancing drugs to athletes, got caught and remains the focal point of upcoming court proceedings against Barry Bonds. Before Mosley's second fight with De La Hoya, on Sept. 13, 2003, in Las Vegas, Mosley traveled to BALCO, took a substance Conte recommended and later, when his name surfaced during federal investigations, denied he knew that what he was taking was banned or illegal.
But recently released grand jury transcripts from Mosley's testimony later in 2003 seem to tell a different story. In the transcripts, taken from testimony in front of the same grand jury before which Bonds allegedly perjured himself, Mosley admits to injecting himself, admits to following a schedule of blood-oxygen enhancer EPO (erythropoietin) injections prior to the De La Hoya fight and admits to worrying about the dangers of taking the drugs Conte was recommending.
Conte has publicly called Mosley a liar and Mosley has sued for defamation.
So, with all that weight on his shoulders, one wonders whether Mosley will break the scale at weigh-in, much less be able to climb in the ring with a mind free of anything but boxing.
Asked about it on a conference call, Mosley, who has trained away from the madding crowds at Big Bear, says, "I put that in my shelf. . . . I don't even know nothing about what's going on right now about that.
"My whole thing is Margarito."
We shall see.
Margarito vs. Mosley
Who: Antonio Margarito (37-5, 27 KOs) vs. Shane Mosley (45-5, 38 KOs).
Where: Staples Center.
When: Saturday, 3 p.m.