Mosley knew what to do but couldn't

LAS VEGAS -- It was the moment Naazim Richardson had warned Shane Mosley about. The burly trainer from Philadelphia who talks as aggressively as he trains had continually told Mosley that once he hit Floyd Mayweather with a right hand, Mayweather would "grow wings with fangs out his mouth like a dragon."

"When he turns into a dragon, I'm going to tell Shane to move laterally, so that the fireballs don't hit you," Richardson said before the fight. "Step on his tail and drive shots to the body. Even if he turns into a dragon, we're not going to surrender the fight."

The most dramatic moment of Mayweather's career -- the one instance when it looked as if the elusive, undefeated (41-0) fighter would fall -- came a minute into the second round when Mosley hit Mayweather with a right hand to the side of his head and buckled his knees. The shot forced Mayweather to grab Mosley to prevent him from falling before the Pomona native landed another right before the end of the round.

Between the second and third rounds, Mayweather would grow those wings and fangs Richardson had predicted.

Soon after came the fireballs that would continue to fly at the 38-year-old fighter's head for the next 10 rounds, which were dominated by Mayweather. Two ringside judges scored it 119-109 for Mayweather, while the third had it 118-110, with all of them having Mayweather winning every round after the second. Ringside punch statistics had Mayweather landing 208 of 477 punches, with Mosley hitting only 92 of 452.

"That fireball hit us, and our [behind] got kind of hot in there," Richardson said. "It's a matter of adjustments. You have to make adjustments, and you have to make them exceptionally quick. Opportunities open up on Floyd, but those opportunities will close as fast as they open."

After the fight, a dejected Mosley stood in front of his dressing room, taking full blame for the loss and saying Richardson told him exactly what to do, but he wasn't able to execute the plan. Richardson would have none of it, laying into Mosley verbally as hard as Mayweather had physically.

"I just got finished cussing out Shane, because he was making excuses -- 'My trainer told me what to do, and I didn't do it' -- and I told him, 'Nobody trashes my fighter, including the fighter,'" Richardson said. "There's only one person wants to hear excuses -- your mom. She's always going to ask, 'What happened, baby?' Shane's an important dude to me."

Mosley was so injured after the fight that promoters had said he wouldn't be available for the postfight news conference, but he appeared from the back as Richardson and Oscar De La Hoya answered questions in his place. Still flashing his signature smile even in defeat, Mosley shook his head as he walked up to the podium, still thinking about how close he was to potentially putting Mayweather on the canvas in the second round.

"I tried, but it was a good fight. I was that close to getting him," said Mosley, holding his thumb and index finger less than an inch apart. "But he's a hell of a fighter. He did what he needed to do to win the fight. I take my hat off to him. I thank him for taking the challenge. He did, and he succeeded."

Watching Mosley take questions for a few moments before he was taken to the hospital to get his neck checked was tough for Richardson and De La Hoya, who basically knew what Mayweather would do in the fight but also knew how difficult it would be for Mosley to stop it. Richardson wasn't worried about the 16-month layoff Mosley had had between fights, recalling how he instructed Mosley to go on vacation only to get pictures back from Mosley of him sparring in Bolivia with some stranger in a concrete ring. This wasn't so much about Mosley's inability to adapt to Mayweather's adjustments but Mayweather's ability to adapt to whatever Mosley threw his way.

"He made adjustments, and he didn't make that same mistake," Mosley said. "He was hurt. He was hurt real bad. That's the most he's ever been hurt in his entire career. But he's a warrior."

De La Hoya, who called Mayweather the best fighter in the world after the win, told Mosley to stick with his jab, but he never really used it. Even after the fight, as he put his arm around Mosley, he continued to shadow-jab and tell him how much it would have helped him maintain the control that he had built through the first two rounds.

"I went over it with Mosley, jab, you have to jab," De La Hoya said. "Don't get lazy, because he feints you. We didn't see that Mosley tonight. But a lot of that has to do with what Mayweather does to you. We can't keep making excuses. He lost to a better man."

Roger Mayweather, Floyd's uncle and trainer, had a simpler reason Mosley never used the one move that De La Hoya told him to use against his nephew.

"Mosley has very fast hands, but he don't have a jab," he said. "It doesn't matter how fast you are if you can't hit the target. People say, 'Mosley fast.' And I say, 'Yeah, he's fast if you fight someone slow.'"

As he left the podium at the MGM Grand, Mosley was asked what the future held for him. He simply smiled and shrugged his shoulders.

"I don't know," he said. "I'll go back to the drawing board and see. Take a vacation, relax and enjoy myself."

Knowing Mosley, that probably means he will be sparring with somebody in an exotic location in preparation for his next fight, whenever that might be.

Arash Markazi is a reporter and columnist for ESPNLosAngeles.com.