By Ingming Aberia
Recent reports have quoted Shane Mosley as saying he will not settle for a points win against pound for pound king Manny Pacquiao when they meet atop the ring on May 7, 2011 at Las Vegas, Nevada, USA. He said he will knock Pacquiao out. Can he do it? Mosley, nearing 40, has a record that tends to support that possibility. The problem here is that he is facing somebody whose own record shows that the more dangerous an opponent becomes, the more likely that he is going to fall.
“Yeah, I think I’m going to knock him out,” Mosley told Boxingscene when asked about his thoughts on the upcoming fight. “I don’t know what round it’s going to be in. But it will come in the first round that I can catch him squarely on the chin.”
Confidence, of course, is the inner spark that ignites all possibilities. It does not guarantee anyone success; but without it, nobody stands a chance.
But just how justified is Mosley, who is a 8-1 underdog, in taking such a positive approach to the fight?
The past couple of weeks should make him and all underdogs happy. Three days ago, challengers Orlando Salido (bantamweight) and Victor Ortiz (welterweight) toppled odds-on favorite Juan Manuel Lopez and Andre Berto, respectively. A week earlier, three-division champion and future Hall of Famer Erik Morales also showed in his fight against highly-regarded Marcos Maidana that counting a “has-been” could be an embarrassing proposition. And, like Morales, Mosley is a three-division world champion and a future Hall of Famer himself. In his prime, Mosley bested Oscar de la Hoya, another great competitor, twice. The Ring Magazine has recognized him as pound for pound champion in 2000 and 2001 during which time he outclassed, aside from De La Hoya, Antonio Diaz, Shannon Taylor and Adrian Stone.
Mosley’s record—46 wins, 6 losses, 1 draw, 1 no contest and 39 KOs—indicated that he could box as much as he could punch. He thrived both in long-distance and close-range combat. He packed power in both hands. In my book, “Manny Pacquiao: A Story Bigger Than Boxing,” the list of the world’s greatest fighters of all time distinguishes Mosley as second only to Mike Tyson in the category of hard hitters. Tyson’s KO rate was 88 percent while Mosley came close at 85 percent. Mosley went 39 and 0 before losing to the late Vernon Forrest, his tormentor way back in their amateur days.
At the time (January 26, 2002) of Mosley’s first defeat to Forrest (he lost again in a rematch 6 months later), he was already on the 9th year of his boxing career, and relatively old at 31. Either he started to show signs of wear and tear or the competition for him had become tougher to overcome, but by then Mosley seemed to have ceased being the Mosley that he used to be. His winning average declined, winning “only” 8 in his next 14 ring battles. The last two—a decision loss to Floyd Mayweather and a draw against Sergio Mora (both in 2010) were particularly unimpressive that, in the eyes of many in media, should have been enough to dash whatever merit he had in landing a lucrative fight against the current draw of boxing.
But not to be dismissed is a little attribute to Mosley’s success inside the ring: he has a knack for winning fights many people thought he had little chances of winning. Although undefeated after 24 fights, he was an underdog when he challenged Philip Holiday (also undefeated after 31 fights), for the lightweight title on August 2, 1997. He was also underdog when he clobbered De La Hoya for the first time. And then, in 2009, he too was not given much of a chance against Antonio Margarito to reclaim his welterweight championship. In all cases, he proved the doubters wrong.
Moreover, Mosley has yet to lose in a lopsided contest, much less an abbreviated one. His losses could have been considered to be competitive up to the final second of each bout. A few more gasping flurries from him could have swung the decision in his favor, and avoided one or two blemishes in his record. While he has already lost 6 times, only 4 fighters have actually beaten him (two—Forrest and Ronald Wright—have defeated him twice).
Aside from Morales, boxing greats like Bernard Hopkins, Roberto Duran and Sugar Ray Robinson have also shown remarkable success inside the ring at a time when they were supposed to have been past their prime. In 2006, Hopkins was already 41 and, like today’s Mosley, was far from impressive in his last two fights, having lost to Jermain Taylor twice in a row. But he came back to beat Antonio Tarver (the same man who had earlier beaten the great Roy Jones Jr twice) and, a year later in 2007, decisioned Ronald Wright.
In 1992, 41-year-old Roberto Duran lost his two previous fights (a UD loss to Sugar Ray Leonard in 1989 and a TKO 6 to Pat Lawlor in 1991), but came back to win his next 7 fights in a 2-year period.
In 1952, 31-year-old Sugar Ray Robinson lost by TKO to Joey Maxim in his attempt to win a world title at a higher division (from middleweight to light heavyweight), but came back to win his next fight by KO.
Hence if Mosley’s last two fights are indicative of his dwindling chances against the 32-year-old Pacquiao, the record of Morales and other boxing greats would seem to argue otherwise.
Unfortunately for Mosley, the possibility of his rising to the occasion might not augur well for his health, however.
Crowd favorite Manny Pacquiao has a total of 57 career fights. He has won 52 of them (38 via stoppage); lost three while 2 bouts ended in draws. Like almost all professional boxers who spend the first half of their careers honing their skills and building up their confidence (except probably Leon Spinks, who faced and defeated Muhammad Ali to take the latter’s world heavyweight title in only 7 professional fights), Manny’s first 24 fights could be considered to be easy fights for him, compared to his last 33 fights which, aside from being mostly title fights, involved physically bigger opponents.
Observers might think that Manny found no need to maim his relatively easy first 24 opponents, knocking out “only” 14 of the 23 he defeated (or a KO rate of 61 percent).
But when he started to chase a world crown in his 25th fight, against Thailand’s Chachai Sasakul for the latter’s WBC Flyweight belt, until his last fight against Margarito—where he faced not only future Hall of Famers in Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales, Juan Manuel Marquez but also bigger opponents in David Diaz, Oscar de la Hoya, Ricky Hatton, Miguel Cotto, Joshua Clottey and Margarito—observers may also think that Manny Pacquiao felt there was a need to address a perceived threat with dispatch, knocking out 28 of his last 33 opponents (or a KO rate of 85 percent).
Against light opponents, Pacquiao entertains. But against dangerous opponents, Pacquiao rocks. The more Mosley succeeds in posing a threat, the more likely he will arouse the killer in his foe.
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Hermilando “Ingming” Duque Aberia is a sports fan and a literary enthusiast. He has written a book titled “Manny Pacquiao: Story Bigger Than Boxing.” He has a master’s degree in Development Management from the Asian Institute of Management and is a practitioner in social development work.