May 1st will truly mark the first gigantic- and possibly only- monster fight of 2010, should Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, yet again, disagree to the drug testing dates and amounts in their potential blockbuster. Most people seem to be split down the middle when asked who will win the fight between Mayweather and Shane Mosley. While this is a great fight between two of boxing’s biggest names, it should not be as close a fight as most might think for certain reasons. These can be identified by using our boxing knowledge when assessing this fight and breaking it down based upon what we know of each guy and what his strengths and weaknesses are.
Boxing is and always will be a thinking man’s sport. Those who have engaged in battle or trained any fighter of an elite caliber will tell you that punching power and speed mean nothing if you can’t find anything to hit. While Mosley and Mayweather have almost identical hand speed, one is a sharp and accurate puncher, while the other tends to throw wider, looping-style punches and we know that the fastest route from A to B is a straight line. The punching power is a clear-cut advantage for Mosley going into this fight, as has been the case since both were amateurs, so there will be no mystery or intrigue when wondering if Mayweather has the power to put Shane on the canvas. It’s not saying it isn’t possible, but it is not likely. Mosley possesses enough power in either hand to put anyone up to 154 pounds on the canvas, as he has proven throughout his Hall-of-Fame career. The foot speed could also be even but it seems as though Mayweather uses his foot speed, not only in a different manner than Mosley, but more effectively as well.
Upper body movement is a clear advantage for Mayweather, as he is able to slip and roll his shoulder to avoid his opponent’s shots (something he should not have a problem doing against Shane). Defense is also an area where, not only is Mosley outgunned, but so is almost every other fighter on the planet. Ring generalship is a tricky question going into this fight because both can be masterful at it. The only question is which Shane Mosley shows up on May 1st? Is it the fighter who fought Oscar De La Hoya in two pretty close fights (in which he was able to not be pushed around or made to fight the fight his opponent wanted him to)? If so, then he will make the fight that much easier on himself. However, if the Mosley that showed up against Winky Wright or Miguel Cotto shows up (in which he wasn’t able to do what he wanted and became frustrated and fought the other guys’ fight), he will make his job in that squared circle that much harder. Mayweather is the superior counter-puncher and is not really rivaled by anyone in that department- a skill in which could help pave his way to a smooth landing, should he get Mosley swinging and missing while making him pay in the process. As far as the level of competition goes throughout their careers, one could argue that it is even, with Mosley possibly having an edge as of late, because of his taking on bigger opponents; while one could argue that Mayweather has fought the better level of competition. All of these angles make this fight all the more appetizing to, not only the hardcore boxing population, but the general public as well, for it is no mystery that these two combatants have contrasting personalities, to top it all off.
While most in the boxing world would have preferred to see this fight some years ago, none are going to complain that it took so long, for it is not as if it is Jones-Hopkins II, in which both fighters are arguably out of their fighting primes. This is a real fight- a live fight- which is another reason it is so attractive. Some in the media, as well as a good portion of fight fans, feel as if this is the first time Mayweather will be in the ring with a big strong, natural welterweight and they want to see how he handles himself in such a situation. However, the Mosley camp should be concerned for such reasons as Shane has a history of throwing punches with his eyes closed, loading up on big punches and not using an effective jab (it is more of a flicking-style jab that is stuck out there to stay busy, rather than a hard sticking jab such as the one Mayweather possesses). Shane must also not get tired towards the end of the fight as could be seen in the Margarito and Mayorga fights or he will end up losing this fight decisively. Mayweather must do what he does best and slow the pace down to his liking and dictate how things go. He must not get outworked and give away too many early rounds, in case he is not able to wear Mosley out and get to working his magic as easily as he has done in 39 of his 40 pro fights. Mayweather claims an early psychological advantage, in that he has already gotten Mosley to act out of character during their press stops. Shane must fight the fight of his life to have his hand raised on May 1st. At 38, and after an 18-month layoff in between bouts, one must wonder just how fresh and sharp Mosley will or can be against- by far- the most skilled opponent he has ever faced in Mayweather.
Mayweather should use his overall skill, ring smarts and boxing brain to cruise to a unanimous decision against Shane on May 1st, which will set up the most anticipated match-up in boxing history: Mayweather-Pacquiao.
However, should Shane Mosley pull the upset so many are inclined to thinking he can, a fight between Mosley and Pacquiao would be interesting for the simple fact that both guys come to fight and will slug it out, if need be. Pacquiao’s trainer Freddie Roach has gone on record as saying he thinks the Mayweather fight will be boring because Floyd runs and doesn’t come to fight. Two things come to mind when hearing a statement by a guy as respected as Roach: 1) He is just saying that because he knows his guy has no shot to win a fight in which Floyd would use his boxing brain to cruise past his famed pupil and 2) running is movement without a purpose. Everything Mayweather does is precise, calculated and thought-out. A slugfest now-a-days seems to be what more than half of fight fans want to see and they would get plenty of fireworks here. A Pacquiao-Mosley fight would be fought on a different field, at a different pace and in a much different style than a Mayweather-Pacquiao showdown. Both Mosley and Pacquiao are fast fighters with a ton of pop, so it would be interesting to see who backs up whom, who hurts who and who is able to stop the other. Manny must be cautious of Shane’s power, as he has felt nothing like it in his career. Shane must be careful not to be outworked by Manny early on and not get tired going into the championship rounds. This fight, more then likely, would not see the final bell.
A fight between these two could be just what the doctor ordered, should Mosley get by Mayweather. A pure slugfest with boxing mixed in at its highest level. Pacquiao-Mosley would have it all. It would be curious to see just who would pick who based upon what we know of each guy and their style. We have, in the past, picked against Pacquiao when he has met a bigger man and he has proven us wrong on more than one occasion. We know what Shane Mosley brings to the table as far as a skill set is concerned but, as has been the case at times, “Which Shane Mosley will show up”? Shane has shown that if things don’t go his way early, he can become frustrated and taken out of his game plan. While the word “quit” is not in Shane Mosley’s vocabulary, it still has to be of some concern going into a possible match up with a firecracker such as Manny Pacquiao.
As far as the potential fight between Mayweather and Pacquiao, it seems as though it took a little bit of a shift over the past couple of weeks, based upon Pacquiao’s dull win over welterweight Joshua Clottey. While some were “blown away” with Pacquiao’s ability to throw some 1200-or-so punches, there are others out there who feel that if he cannot break apart and hurt the world’s fifth or sixth best welterweight, how is he going to do that to the world’s most gifted boxer?
Throwing 100-plus punches a round is impressive in its own way, but not so much if you can land only a mere 20% of those shots against a guy that is straight up and down, standing right in front of you, and not throwing back. Clottey was hardly ever backed up and was never hurt. The only time Manny really let his hands go with power shots, was when Clottey allowed himself to be backed up against the ropes so that Manny could unload. In the center of the ring, Manny’s ability to throw punches from weird angles did him little good because was unable to find a way to open Clottey’s defense and land shots in between Clottey’s gloves or punches. One thing that must also be pointed out is how easily Clottey hit Manny with a jab, left hook, straight right (whether used as a counter shot or a lead shot) and the uppercut. Had Clottey put some force behind his shots by either using his waist or legs to really drive some power into those shots, the fight could have gone a bit differently. It has been a little while since we have seen Manny’s face so marked up- especially when he was not getting hit with only about 100 shots or so. It should worry Team Pacquiao that while out-throwing a guy by 800+ punches, he only out-landed Clottey by about 140 punches. They will not be throwing 100+ punches per round against a fighter of Mayweather’s caliber, and if they could not land more than 20% against a stationary target, how do they possibly think they are going to do damage to Mayweather, let alone knock him out?
Boxing is not about simply letting your hands go at an incredible work rate, but rather landing clean hard shots (while in the process, avoiding them) and using defense and smart movement to control the pace. Both Roach and Pacquiao’s statements after the fight were as hilarious and embarrassing as Jim Lampley’s “BANG, BANG, BANG, try and stop me, BANG…” comments. It was hard to tell if Lampley was there as a member of HBO, Team Pacquiao or the fourth member of the Dallas Cowboy’s cheer squad. That was something we weren’t exactly used to hearing from the award-winning sportscaster’s mouth. For Roach to say that “Mayweather will be easier than Clottey”, and that “His style isn’t that hard to figure out”, is just ridiculous. Sitting ringside or on your couch and watching Mayweather and his style and saying to yourself, “Hey, I could do this or that; he isn’t that good”, and actually getting in there and trying to do it are two completely different things.
Whether you think Manny or Floyd will win that match-up, one thing is for certain to anyone with a great knowledge of the sport- it is not going to be an easy fight and, surely, not one easier then what a Joshua Clottey brings to the ring on fight night.
Two things Erik Morales, Juan Manuel Marquez (and lately, Joshua Clottey) have shown us is that Pacquiao can be out-boxed and that he struggles with great defensive fighters and good counter punchers. A potential match-up with Mayweather presents all of those things rolled into one ball, and, not only that, but it will be at the highest level possible. Pacquiao’s ability to throw tons of punches from weird angles while turning has paid him well against guys with no foot or upper body movement. Miguel Cotto was another guy that showed that if you move your feet and upper body while using a jab and countering effectively, you can give Pacquiao problems. Cotto wasn’t able to withstand that for more than a few rounds, because he is naturally “a brawler”, which showed when Manny forced him to stand and fight. That ploy will not work against a boxing brain such as Floyd Mayweather. The only way we will ever find out is if these two fighters can come to an agreement and give the world what they want to see- which is the two best fighters of this era going head-to-head in their primes, a feat that only happens but a few times every 20 years or so. Let us hope for the sake of boxing and its fans that the two sides can come to an agreement on the random Olympic-style drug testing, for when a fight of this magnitude does not get made there are more than the two fighters to blame.
Until Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao stare across the ring from each other and the bell sounds, all scenarios will be left to being hypothetical in nature. Pacquiao has taken care of his business and now the second half of this dream match-up lies directly on the shoulders of Floyd Mayweather. Should he come out victorious against Shane Mosley on May 1st at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, maybe- just maybe- the egos that exist here- and have existed when the fight was first negotiated- may have settled and the fighting spirit that both have possessed their entire lives may once again emerge and we can finally put to rest the question so many have asked over the past three or four years: