I always love seeing that Neo statue.
Just to clarify (for others), I am not implying that this dog is synonymous with a Shar, but whatever type of actual molosser it was, it was obviously there for a long time. And it must have come from somewhere, right? "Mountain mastiff"? Likely. "Modern (British) mastiff"? Not so much. BTW, it does have a mane, so it's likely been sheared.
In Shars, mastiff blood does not have a positive result. It changes the dog to its core. In recent years, people presumably do it anyway for fighting purposes
Also, if "recent years" in your sentence above stand for "from late 1980's onward", we're on the same page.
Wow, time sure flies. So yeah, I would have guessed somewhere around 1991 or soon after, but late 1980s will certainly work.