By Lamar Sparkman
The deal is done! Manny Pacquiao’s next opponent will be Sugar Shane Mosley on May 7, 2011 in Las Vegas and from what I’ve gathered from reading boxing and social websites a majority of the fans are disappointed that this fight was made. My initial thoughts on this fight is the same as the announcement last summer that Pacquiao (52-3-2, 38 ko’s) would face Antonio Margarito in November. At that time I wrote the fight would be a total wipe out and Margarito had no chance. However, I changed my mind the day before the fight after seeing the size difference at the weigh-in and the determination Margarito had to reclaim his reputation after the hand wrap scandal before his January 2009 fight with Shane Mosley. I was wrong as Pacquiao gave him the beating of his life and sent him to the hospital with a broken orbital bone. After the fight I was convinced the only fighter in the world who could challenge Manny was Floyd Mayweather. I’m a realist so I knew the fight was a long shot with Floyd’s unwillingness to face Manny and his pending legal issues so that left only a hand full of fighters that would be competitive.
For weeks Pacquiao promoter Bob Arum told boxing media that there were three fighters being considered as Manny’s next opponent; Mosley, Lightweight Champion Juan Manuel Marquez and WBC welterweight champ Andre Berto. He presented those names and what each would bring financially to Team Pacquiao while he was in the Philippines to attend Manny’s birthday party last week. Arum previously said that Mosley (46-6-1, 39 ko’s) was the frontrunner because a fight with him made more financial sense known by the general public but the final decision was up to Pacquiao. He chose Mosley and it was obvious from the start that the others had no chance, the short list was nothing more than a tactic to gain leverage with Mosley. In the past I‘ve blamed Top Rank and Bob Arum for hand picked in house match ups but it’s time Manny share the blame because he has the final say. I’ve been impressed by what Manny has done the last two years but I call things like I see them and it seems he’s began to cherry pick his opponents. It makes smart business sense but beating an aging fighter clearly past his prime does absolutely nothing for his legacy. I love watching Pacquiao fight but it seems he‘s not interested in challenging himself unless it‘s Mayweather.
Regardless of what Bob Arum says, a third fight with Marquez was a viable option. Marquez is 4-1 since his last fight with Pacquiao and that was to Floyd Mayweather, which is nothing to be ashamed about. The fight is on Cinco De Mayo weekend and Mexicans would flood Vegas to watch the fight, also Marquez presented the last true challenge for Manny so it be easy to sell the fight. The other option was Berto and although he’s not well known to the general public he’s young, hungry, fast, and undefeated though some would argue the legitimacy of his opposition. There’s also Timothy Bradley and Devon Alexander, two young undefeated junior welter weights fighting next month to unify the titles. Why not make a fight with the winner? I favor Pacquiao against all the fighters I named but these guys deserve the chance to test themselves and boxing fans want to see it.
Another aspect that bothers me is the blatant hypocrisy of Bob Arum and Freddie Roach. After Mosley beat Margarito in January of ‘09 he literally begged for a chance at Pacquiao and Roach said he no way, then Manny destroyed Ricky Hatton the following spring and Roach said they would fight Shane if he agrees to come down to 140lbs but when Shane called their bluff they declined and chose to fight Miguel Cotto at 145lbs. After being out of the ring for 15 months Mosley fought Mayweather and was dominated, 4 months later he fought Sergio Mora to a draw and after that fight Bob Arum stated in an interview with Boxingscene.com, “Look, he’s going to be 40 and he’s in the lighter weights, where speed is so important…I’ve always considered Shane to be a nice guy but this is what happens to fighters when they age. It’s like Hopkins, he still knows how to fight but who wants to pay to see him now? His fights are not very scintillating. What you see with Hopkins, we’re beginning to see with Mosley.” My how things change in a matter of months.
Arum and Roach changed their tune now that Mosley has faded. They need an opponent and feel his name will be valuable in generating the most revenue yet poses little danger. So in essence it’s a stay busy fight waiting to see if Mayweather will be willing to fight by next fall. Make no mistake Pacquiao is facing a fighter on his last legs but we will hear how fast and strong Mosley is and how it will be a dangerous fight. Mosley was 0-1-1 this year and next month will be two years since he‘s won a fight so don’t see how they justify him getting this fight. In his fight with Mayweather last May he did well for two rounds and landed two big right hands in the second that rocked Floyd round but he couldn‘t finish him. Then Mayweather took over and started beating him to the punch and backing Shane up. He had little head movement, failed to let his hands go, and looked gassed in the last few rounds. Some of that was Floyd’s slick defensive style but to go 8 rounds without landing a meaning punch is telling and showed that perhaps time has caught up to the once great champion. I also felt he absorbed many head shots in the later rounds when the fight clearly over because his power for which he prides himself on was non existent, Emanuel Steward pointed out on the telecast that his punches were loose with no power while Floyd’s punches were crisp and accurate so imagine what Manny will do when he lands his laser like missiles upside Shane’s head. His last fight with Mora only confirmed what many felt after the Mayweather fight, that Shane is well past his prime although you could say that Mora’s hit and move style would make anyone look bad.
I think this fight is all wrong for Mosley but I understand why he wants it, there’s no other fight as lucrative. Some have speculated that his recent divorce settlement has left him in a position where he needs a big fight which is why he basically left Golden Boy and hired an advisor to negotiate this fight. There’s always a chance he could win if he landed something big in the early rounds but other than that he won’t be able to deal with Manny’s s hand speed, movement, and angles. He’s not going to find him to land that big right hand and Manny will overwhelm him with accurate punches darting in and out eventually hurting and possibly stop Shane for the first time in his career. I honestly think Shane could really get hurt in this fight because he’s not a slick fighter who moves around and he’ll be there for Manny to hit. A few years ago I would favor Shane to win this fight hands down but judging by his last two fights where he didn’t throw an effective jab nor go to the body I don’t see how he wins this fight with only a right hand. Manny is just too fast, quick, and elusive so I think this will be the last hooray for Sugar Shane. I will not watch this fight nor will I discuss it after I today, I just think that at some point we have to take a stand and demand the best fighters challenge themselves. The only way they get the message is if we stop paying for these fights and maybe the casual fans will get tired of seeing Manny beat up his opponents for 12 rounds and never be challenged. I know it won’t matter that little ole me won’t watch but it’s my way of saying no more, I refuse to be tricked into thinking this fight is anything other than a mismatch and for Bob Arum to sell it otherwise is insulting the intelligence of boxing fans. This fight is totally worthless to me and I just hope Mosley comes away with all his faculties because at the end of the day I have compassion for these guys that get in the ring and entertain us. In the last two years Pacquiao has retired Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton, and Shane could be next.
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