LOS ANGELES - Shane Mosley didn't go to the body. Wearing Oscar De La Hoya down wasn't his plan. He landed 421 punches Saturday evening, and most found Oscar's face. The way Oscar fights, bent over, chin out, moving forward relentlessly, his face isn't especially hard to find.
Cheeks swollen and one eye blackened, Golden Boy looked bad when he finally presented himself an hour and a half after the bout.
When he finally stopped talking he looked even worse.
In the immediate afterglow of his devastating split-decision loss to Shane Mosley in Staples Center, De La Hoya had said all the right and classy things you are supposed to say when you've just had your head handed to you: "It was a helluva fight and more power to him," he said before leaving the ring; and, "He was the better man tonight;" and, "There has to be a rematch."
But after pressing ice to his face for some 90 minutes, and maybe listening for too long to the people he pays to tell him how good he is, he seemed to have a different take altogether.
He implied he was the victim of a diabolical plot hatched by the dastardly clique that runs boxing.
"The fans are out here to support us," he said, "but inside of the boxing world is a whole different story . . . When you see things like this happen, it's just, it turns me off. You start to think, `What happens if they do give me the decision?' There's no rematch. There's no third fight. Now there has to be a rematch . . .
"It's tough to live with, ah . . . with, ah . . . what goes on around boxing," he added. "I just don't feel that I can continue on . . . like this."
He said he was going to "rethink my career . . . I'm considering a lot of things."
Asked if retirement was one of those things, he said "Definitely."
He won't get any argument here.
All in all, he sounded like a guy who'd just taken 421 punches too many.
Mosley won four of the last six rounds on one judge's scorecard, five of the six on another, all six on the third. I gave him all six as well.
There wasn't any doubt that Oscar's evening was going to hell in a handbasket, and if title bouts were still 15 rounds long he would have ended up on his keester. Take that to the bank.
"I think," said Mosley, "I proved a lot in the fight. What kind of heart I have in the ring. Lotta people didn't think I had the heart."
Lotta people didn't think he was big enough, either. His long run as a lightweight, 12 pounds shy of a welterweight, raised questions about his ability to hang tough with the likes of Oscar.
"I think this takes my career to another level," said Mosley, "People know that Sugar Shane is for real and a true warrior. That I can take the welterweight punch."
In truth, that wasn't tested.
"Every great fighter has been knocked down and had to get up," Oscar said beforehand. "It's hard. I don't know how he'll react when it happens."
But it never did happen. Mosley wasn't exactly pretty in the aftermath of this war. Oscar landed 361 times, enough to make Mosley remember him. But he never landed the big one on Mosley, who has never been down, not even in any of his 260 amateur bouts.
The challenger was simply too quick, too elusive, too busy.
He survived Oscar early, frustrated him midway through when he turned around and fought southpaw, then battered him late.
"A lot of people don't know that I can fight southpaw," said Mosley. "It confused De La Hoya a lot. He couldn't throw his left hook like he wanted to. I noticed, with Pernell Whitaker (a lefty), it gave him a lot of problems, so I thought, `Well, let's try it and see.' "
Still, it came down to the final round. Had Mosley lost it, the fight would have been a draw and Oscar would have kept his two titles.
But Sugar Shane won it on all cards, big.
"I wanted to leave my mark in the 12th round," he said. "I wanted to show the world who was the stronger and better fighter in the 12th round."
He proved that to everyone in the joint except the fellow whose face he so profoundly rearranged.