By: Vishare Mooney
Southern California middleweight fighters Shane “Sugarman” Mosley, Jr. (13 – 2) and Brandon “The Cannon” Adams (20 – 2) will face off tonight in a ten round bout at the L.A. Forum in what looks to be an exciting live finale for the Epix series The Contender. The top prize is significant for any fighter: $250,000 and a top ten WBA ranking. The latter effectively gives the winning Contender a shortcut to a world title belt. Current rankings for Mosley Jr. and Adams are 149 and Inactive respectively (Adams had been on a three year hiatus until the show). The co-main event will feature brawler Michael “The Silverback” Moore (17-2) and Contender fan favorite, Louisiana fighter Eric “The Babyface Assassin” Walker (17-2).
Though each fighter was portrayed in the unscripted twelve episode series, as an underdog in their own way, the two finalists may actually have been the most overlooked in terms of their boxing skills. Mosley, Jr. in particular seemed to have the reputation of riding on his father’s name. He was called out by Devaun Lee and Moore, among other fighters, who wanted a win against a Mosley Jr. under their belt. Mosley, Jr. seemed to hold his own and never took the drama bait that often occurred in the house and in reality tv. His demeanor was all business.
At an interview with Boxinginsider, Mosley Jr. spoke of his time at the Contender house. “I try to be true to myself and you know, I want to win so you can’t be involved with the crazy nonsense that’s going on in the house. Of course, you have to adapt a little and be involved in some of the stuff but for the most part you try to find your own space so that you can shine.”
Mosley Jr. soundly bested Devaun Lee in his first tournament fight with two knockdowns in a somewhat sloppy brawl. In his second win against Danny Valdivia, Mosley, Jr. showed impressive jabs and footwork. And in the close semifinal bout with Michael Moore, he impressed the judges with effective aggressive punches which rocked his opponent.
The legendary boxing coach Freddie Roach, who will be in Adams corner tonight, said of Mosley Jr. at yesterday’s press conference, “I’ve seen Shane fight before and I don’t think I’ve ever seen him fight better than he did in the tournament. I think he did raise (his) level.” Mosley, Jr. prior to the show, was training at Roach’s Wild Card gym. “He fought better than I’ve ever seen him before,” said Roach.
And while Mosley, Jr. has been fighting to create his own “Sugarman” legacy and emerge from his father’s shadow, Brandon Adams, has been steadily working, training to emerge from obscurity. As can be the fate of many fighters, Adams had signed with a promoter that produced no fights for him – hence the forced hiatus from boxing until The Contender came calling to give him that opportunity. “This is boxing, anything can happen. I train for the “happen” to happen for me.” Adams and Mosley, Jr. were part of the same gym, Maywood Boxing, years ago and Adams has actually sparred with Shane and his dad.
Adams, in the three years not having a bout, has never stopped training or sparring. “I was sparring, training. I was training as if I always had a fight coming up.” He was more prepared than anyone realized. At The Contender, Adams quickly caught the attention and stole wins from the other contestants. Famed coach Nazim Richardson, who is Shane’s coach for the finals, gave props to Adams, “The names that he faced, were the names that everybody said were going to win.” In particular, Adams had a dramatic win over Eric “Babyface Assassin” Walker, the favorite to win the competition. Adams said of Mosley Jr. and tonight’s fight: “He’s grown, he’s a tremendous fighter, he made it to the finals, I’ve grown, I’ve made it to the finals. It’s bittersweet, but we both wanna win.”
As for fight predictions, Freddie Roach calls it even. “This is not an easy fight in the finals. This is a give and take fight. We’ve got two great fighters going against each other. To me, it’s a 50-50 fight.”