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Notebook: Rival-turned-partner Mosley to aid Oscar

AROUND THE RING
Selfless Mosley to give De La Hoya a hand

Shane Mosley beat Oscar De La Hoya twice in major championship fights, taking the welterweight title from him in a stirring 2000 battle and then controversially winning the junior middleweight title from him in 2003.

Back then, they were respectful ring rivals. Today, Mosley is a partner in De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions and they've become pals. In an individual sport, they've become as close to being teammates as you can be.

That's why, in a highly unusual move for a superstar fighter, Mosley has agreed to serve as De La Hoya's chief sparring partner during his preparation for the May 5 mega-fight (HBO PPV) with Floyd Mayweather Jr.

A boxing star has his own sparring partners. A boxing star doesn't serve as a sparring partner, especially not to a boxer he has beaten twice.

But Mosley, whose speed, size and skills are about as close to Mayweather's as anyone else's in boxing, is not your typical star fighter.

He's down-to-earth and loves training. He's more than happy to do what it takes to help De La Hoya, especially because of how big a victory would be for the company they both have a stake in.

"That's what partners are for," Mosley told ESPN.com. "Whatever I can do to help, I will do. I want Oscar to have all the advantages he can in the fight."

Mosley, who has a knack for being able to imitate just about any style you can think of, will report to De La Hoya's Puerto Rico training camp April 1 and spend the month there sparring regularly with De La Hoya.

"I will help Oscar out and keep myself in shape as well," Mosley said. "I'm probably the closest thing fighting to Mayweather right now, so it will be a good advantage for Oscar to work with me. I will get some fight tapes and study Mayweather and his style. I will be able to imitate him and help Oscar dismantle Mayweather."

De La Hoya is already in camp and didn't want to discuss it, but the idea was hatched a few months ago when Golden Boy matchmaker Eric Gomez, also one of De La Hoya's best friends, was trying to come up with a list of possible sparring partners.

"I had discussions with Oscar about who can help him because there really isn't anyone out there that fights like Floyd," Gomez said. "He's the best technician in the game and he has the combination of speed and technical skills. It kept popping into my mind that the closest to him was Shane. So, I told Oscar that I had come up with the best possible sparring partner."

And when Gomez sprung the idea of Mosley on him?

"He liked the idea," Gomez said. "He's been in there twice with Shane and they fought and sparred in the amateurs. Shane has given him problems before. I think that Shane can imitate anybody. It clicked right away."

Getting Mosley on board was easy. A couple of months ago, Gomez simply asked him if he was interested.

"[Mosley] genuinely loves boxing and loves to train. He said, 'I will give it a try,'" Gomez said. "I called him one day a while before his own fight [Feb. 10 against Luis Collazo] to ask him. The worst thing he could do is say, 'No.' So I asked him, 'How would you feel about sparring with Oscar?' He said, 'I would love to. It would be great. I wouldn't mind going down to Puerto Rico.'"

"This is for Oscar's benefit. I will not try to outshine Oscar because this is not about me. I'm going to do what I can do to imitate Mayweather. I will make it difficult for Oscar to hit me, like Mayweather will."
"Sugar" Shane Mosley

Said Mosley: "I told him, 'Just tell me when to come and I will be there.'"

When he spars with De La Hoya, Mosley understands it is strictly to help De La Hoya.

"I will try not to make it competitive. I don't want it to be competitive," Mosley said. " This is for Oscar's benefit. I will not try to outshine Oscar because this is not about me. I'm going to do what I can do to imitate Mayweather. I will make it difficult for Oscar to hit me, like Mayweather will."

Gomez is pleased with the arrangement.

"I think Oscar will get his best looks from Shane," he said. "It's friendly and helpful, but you know how boxing is -- it's competitive. There will be some heated sparring sessions whether you like it or not. But I think there is enough professionalism in there that they won't be too competitive. And [trainer] Freddie Roach will be there. But there are days when they will have to go hard at each other."

It's a good bet that some of the action will be captured by HBO's cameras, which have been granted access to the both training camps for "De La Hoya/Mayweather 24/7," a four-part countdown series premiering April 15.

It won't be the first time Mosley will be helping De La Hoya get ready for an important event. Mosley also sparred with him as he was getting ready for a run to the 1992 Olympic gold medal.

"I will do whatever is needed of me," Mosley said. "We're there to work. I'm not going down there to overwork him, though. I want him to be the best he possibly can be for Mayweather. I will tell him things I see when we're in the ring. I'm definitely going to be a help."

Although De La Hoya will cover Mosley's expenses, Mosley said he won't accept a salary for the work.

"We're partners. I don't need to be paid," Mosley said. "Besides, I will get good work, too. I get to spar with Oscar De La Hoya, and that will help keep me sharp."

Gomez admitted that when he first thought of the idea, it made him chuckle.

"I was picturing 'Rocky III,' where Apollo Creed helps Rocky," Gomez said. "It's similar to the movie. I was thinking, 'How funny would that be if Shane agrees to do it?' I thought it will be like the movie. Apollo and Rocky fought twice and then Apollo ends up helping Rocky get ready to fight the next young kid."

It's not lost on Gomez that Rocky, with Apollo's help, did wind up defeating Clubber Lang. The whole Golden Boy crew is hoping life imitates art.

• When Acelino "Popo" Freitas faces Juan Diaz in a lightweight unification fight April 28 at Foxwoods in Connecticut, it will be the first bout of a two-fight deal Freitas has with HBO. Freitas hoped to fight recognized champion Joel Casamayor in the spring, but HBO strongly preferred Diaz. So as a concession to Freitas accepting the Diaz fight, HBO contractually agreed to give him a second fight by the end of the first quarter of 2008 if he beats Diaz. It also has approved Casamayor for that bout if Freitas still wants to fight him.

• Showtime has made official its April 7 main event -- former lightweight champ Diego Corrales (40-4, 33 KOs) will move up to welterweight and face Joshua Clottey, both of whom fought their most recent fights on the network. Corrales, who failed to make weight and was stripped of the title, lost to Joel Casamayor in their October rubber match. Clottey (30-2, 19 KOs) dropped a decision in a welterweight title fight against Antonio Margarito on Dec. 2. Clottey's only other defeat is a controversial disqualification against ex-champ Carlos Baldomir in 1999. The site has not been determined, nor has the co-feature. However, one interesting fight being discussed for the undercard is British featherweight Nicky Cook (27-0, 15 KOs) against American Steven Luevano (32-1, 14 KOs). If Luevano promoter Top Rank can reach a deal with Cook promoter Frank Warren, they would meet either for an interim belt or a vacant one, depending on what happens when titlist Juan Manuel Marquez moves up in weight to fight Marco Antonio Barrera March 17. If Luevano-Cook isn't on April 7 on Showtime, Top Rank will consider trying to put it on the June 9 Miguel Cotto-Zab Judah HBO PPV undercard.

• Promoter Gary Shaw told ESPN.com that he tried to make a junior welterweight title bout between England's Junior Witter and mandatory challenger Vivian Harris for the April 7 Showtime co-feature, but that Witter rejected $200,000 and British television rights to come to the U.S. Harris became the mandatory after defeating Juan Lazcano Feb. 10. Witter-Harris probably will go to a purse bid since the sides can't seem to make a deal.

• Light heavyweight titlist Chad Dawson (23-0, 15 KOs), who impressively won a light heavyweight title from Tomasz Adamek via unanimous decision Feb. 3, could make his first defense against Australia's Paul Briggs (26-3, 18 KOs), who lost a pair of majority decisions to Adamek in bloody title fights. Dawson promoter Gary Shaw told ESPN.com that he's talking to Don King, Briggs' promoter, about the fight, which could take place June 2 on Showtime.

• Andre Ward (10-0, 5 KOs), the only U.S. boxing gold medalist at the 2004 Olympics, returns to action March 29 in an eight-round untelevised bout against an opponent to be named in San Jose, Calif., Ward's home region. Ward, who fought just three times last year because of a thumb injury, won gold at light heavyweight, but has fought professionally at middleweight. However, he is making the move to super middleweight starting with the upcoming fight. "He and his trainer [Virgil Hunter] came to the decision that he's busting out at 160 pounds," Goossen Tutor matchmaker Tom Brown told ESPN.com. "He and the trainer are the hands-on guys down in the trenches every day. If they think that's what is best for him, I am supportive. If it's best for his body, and he was struggling to make the weight, this will be good for him." If Ward wins his upcoming bout, there has been discussion between Goossen Tutor and promoter Lou DiBella about matching Ward with either Jaidon Codrington or Curtis Stevens, super middleweight prospects DiBella promotes. The fight was first discussed as a bout on the Jermain Taylor-Sergio Mora undercard when it looked like it was going to land in Oakland (Ward's hometown) on May 19. However, with the Oakland deal not panning out, DiBella is looking for another site for Taylor-Mora, meaning if Ward ends up facing Codrington or Stevens, it could come on DiBella's next "Boxing After Dark" card in June.

• While DiBella tries to close a deal with a venue for Taylor-Mora, he also is working on the undercard. There have been numerous possibilities besides the Ward scenario. One that DiBella continues to work on would see Roy Jones Jr. fight in the opening bout with an eye toward facing Taylor in the fall. Although DiBella said Jones has agreed to fight in an undercard position, there are many details that need to be worked out, making it a long shot. They have not agreed on Jones' purse. There is also the arduous process of coming up with an opponent acceptable to Jones and to HBO, which has never been easy. However, if it does work out, it surely would be a ratings bonanza.

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• Hoping to stoke interest in the Marco Antonio Barrera-Juan Manuel Marquez junior lightweight championship fight, HBO will preview the March 17 HBO PPV bout with "Countdown to Barrera-Marquez," a 30-minute documentary analyzing the fight between two of Mexico's best. The special premieres immediately following the conclusion of HBO's coverage of Wladimir Klitschko's heavyweight title defense against Ray Austin on Saturday (live at 4:45 p.m. ET, replay at 10 p.m. ET/PT). The special will also air numerous times on the HBO2 service and is available on HBO On Demand.

• Still reeling from Dan Rafael's Quick Hits? Check out his hard-hitting blogInsider that keeps boxing Insiders informed about the latest happenings in boxing.

QUOTABLE

"I don't come to lose. I come to win. This is going to be a beautiful thing for me and shocking for others. I'm going to bring the belt back to America. I'm ready to rumble!"
-- Mandatory challenger Ray Austin, a significant underdog, predicting that he'll win a heavyweight title from Wladimir Klitschko on March 10 in Germany.