Boxing Historian Mike Silver on Floyd Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao, Shane Mosley and Much More By David Tyler, DoghouseBoxing (May 17, 2010)
Let's welcome the author of the definitive book about boxing: "The Arc of Boxing: The Rise and Decline of the Sweet Science”. Boxing historian Mike Silver has agreed to share his views about the recent Mayweather/ Mosley fight. Mike also gives us his unique insight into a possible Mayweather/ Pacquiao match. Enjoy!
David Tyler - Mike, your thoughts about the recent Mayweather/ Mosley bout?
Mike Silver - The fight went according to how I and others figured it would go. Mayweather is at the top of his game. Mosley had not fought in 16 months. It’s hard enough to be sharp against a fast opponent if you are active, but a 16 month layoff for a fighter past his prime is a big handicap to overcome. It was the superior speed, youth, and reflexes of Floyd, not his superior boxing ability, that won him the match. Mosley couldn't do what he wanted to do because of his age.
DT - The second round of the fight will be remembered for a long time. Your thoughts about round two of the bout?
MS - I was thinking that here is a savvy old pro who was looking for an opening. To beat superior speed you really have to rely on strategy and proper timing. Mosley timed that right hand because he was still fresh....that was the key….it was only the second round so he was still fresh. He caught Mayweather with a beautiful punch and twice more with right hands. If that had been the Mosley of ten years earlier, he could have possibly landed additional punches in that round. The fight would have taken on a different tone because it would not have been a rusty 38 year old but a young vigorous 28 year old landing those shots. We would have had a totally different fight on our hands if it had involved a much younger Mosley.
DT - Rather than take a round off to recover, Mayweather came out the third round and took command of the fight. Did that surprise you?
MS - I must say that I was impressed with the way Mayweather handled himself at that point of the fight. He was stunned not just physically but emotionally by the punches and the fact that his knees buckled and he nearly went down. Even though he recovered completely between rounds we saw heart and tremendous pride by the way he came back wanting to take charge again and show who's boss. That's a commendable aspect of his fighting persona that I wasn’t sure existed. No one was sure how he would come back after the second round because we have never seen him hurt. That's the mark of a good fighter; he has got to have that in him or everything else won't matter.
DT - Between rounds, Mosley's trainer, Nazim Richardson, was constantly prompting Shane to box and give up the idea slugging his way to a Kayo. Why do you think Mosley wasn't able to throw several punches and box?
MS - For the same reasons that some people thought this would be a close fight or that Mosley would win. They were thrown off by the Margarito fight. That was a totally different type of fight because Mosley was facing a totally different fighter and one much inferior to Mayweather. Margarito came directly into Shane, which played right into the old pro’s hands. Shane didn't have to use his legs, he didn't have to chase the man....reflexes and speed were not an issue in that fight. Even an old Shane could always outbox an ordinary club fighter like Margarito. People remembered Mosley landing right hand after right hand. Shane looked so much like he used to in that fight, but they didn’t realize why he looked so good. The fans had forgotten that he had some recent tough losses to fighters with different styles.
DT - Was there any kind of strategy that would have resulted in a Mosley victory?
MS Certainly, but he would have to be in his prime to execute the strategy. Mosley was facing the most athletic fighter in the world today, a fighter with the best reflexes, certainly at Welterweight. At 38 years old and with a 16 month layoff, you knew that if Shane could not knock him out early he was going to tire. After the fourth round Shane was sucking air trying to keep up with a speed demon. He knew that he had to pace himself. Mosley was continuing to aim for the same punch that caught Mayweather in the second round. That might have worked if he was about ten years younger. In his prime Shane threw better combinations than Floyd and was more aggressive. Now his best chance was to take the fight inside, bang him to the body, rough him up and try to upset Floyd’s rhythm. In other words, try to slow the pace of the fight and forget about knocking him out. But in all probability, at 38 there is nothing Mosley could have done that would have resulted in a victory. Youth must be served.
DT - Did Mayweather answer all the critics about his abilities in this fight?
MS No, because he didn't have much in front of him. It only answered one question; can Mayweather take a good punch? I’m not sure how hard the Mosley right hand was in the second round. It looked like a good shot, so it appears that Mayweather can take some punishment and recover. I did gain respect for Mayweather's "fighting heart" which is an important intangible, but the big question about what Mayweather would do if he was truly pressed was not answered because he did not have the opponent who could fight that style. The fight confirmed that Mayweather is a very good fighter for todaybut we already knew that. In the 1950s, 60s and 70s Mayweather would have to face the likes of Kid Gavilan, Jose Napoles, Emile Griffith, Luis Rodriguez, Sugar Ray Leonard, Tommy Hearns, or Roberto Duran. He would not defeat those fighters. Mayweather is a very good fighter who stands out because he is surrounded by ordinary talent.
DT - Of course everyone is hoping that the next opponent for Mayweather will be Manny Pacquiao. Did you notice any weakness in the Mayweather performance that Pacquiao could utilize against Floyd if they ever meet in the ring?
MS - Pacquiao would have a tough time ahead of him. He would have to adjust his style which would be difficult for a fighter that has had over 50 fights and been successful to this point fighting his way. Pacquiao would have to develop a busy right jab, which is not a big punch in his arsenal. Mayweather has trouble with fighters that jab and move him back. Manny also has to find a way to weave in and under Mayweather’s punches and trap him on the ropes and keep him there. Working in Mayweather’s favor is that in mid ring Pacquiao has to plant his feet before he gets off his flurry of punches and that plays right into a guy like Mayweather who is much faster. Also, Mayweather is physically stronger. Pacquiao will not be able to muscle him around. So we’ve got a faster, stronger fighter against a very tough opponent who is easy to hit.
DT - How would Mayweather's defense play in a fight with Pacquiao?
MS With his great reflexes and sense of anticipation Mayweather would make him miss and then quickly move out of range to avoid Manny’s follow up punches, or stay in range and counter with a right cross or left hook. But Pacquiao fights fire with fire which means he will try to throw even more punches and that will really make it an exciting contestthanks to Manny. But Mayweather will pull back, slip and slide away from the punches and that will cause a lot of frustration for Pacquiao and win points for Floyd.
DT - Mike, many feel that Mayweather is the superior defensive fighter of this generation. Is his defense one of the best ever?
MS It is a mistake to say that Mayweather is a superior boxer. Like Roy Jones Jr., his defense is based almost entirely on speed, reflex, and a sense of anticipation. If you have these very unusual athletic qualities and you consistently get away with using your superior speed, reflex, and sense of anticipation to win then the fighter may tend not to develop what we call the traditional defensive skills such as blocking and parrying that come in handy when you begin to slow down. I don't think Mayweather has developed much defensive skill outside of those based on his athleticism. That’s OK for today. He gets away with it because there are simply no fighters that know how to nullify his superior speed. Decades back, when you had such depth of talent in the welterweight division, there were always outstanding seasoned contenders in the top ten who could adjust their style to handle superior speed. Years ago Mosely would not have earned a title shot. Too many tough contenders ahead of him. I can't think of any other time in the history of the sport where you had a 38 year old welterweight coming off a 16 month layoff rated high enough to deserve a title shot. Of course I realize there is a lack of marquis names today and Mosley-Mayweather was a money fight. I’m trying to put the current scene in historical perspective.
DT - Are you telling me that Mayweather’s defense would not have held up against fighters from the past?
MT - Mayweather is a fighter whose defense, for the most part, is based on his athleticism. Years ago he would have been vulnerable to seasoned pros who went up against all types of styles and fighters, some of whom were faster and more athletic. The top fighters I mentioned earlier from the 60s and 70s had the ring savvy and seasoning to handle a less experienced fighter with superior speed and reflexes like Mayweather. The era before them he would have to contend with the likes of Carmen Basilio, Kid Gavilan, Johnny Bratton and Johnny Saxtonfighters who would know how to hunt him, trap him and hurt him. If you go back earlier to the 1930s and 40s then he is really coming up against some monsters like Sugar Ray Robinson, Charley Burley, Holman Williams, Tommy Bell, Henry Armstrong, Beau Jack, Fritzie Zivic. There were even fighters no one remembers todaycontenderswho would have been too much for the Mayweather of 2010: Guys like Doug Ratford, George Costner, Cocoa Kid, Gene Burton, Freddie Dawson. The competition back then was brutal. There is nobody around today even remotely like these fighters. The bottom line is that Mayweather is a very good fighter and a tremendous athlete but he doesn't have the seasoning or boxing skills to stand out against the kind of competition that was common during boxing’s golden age of talent and activity. In the last 20 years there have been no fighters that developed into all time greats. Some may have had it in them to become great fighters if they had been developed years ago but their full potential cannot be realized in today’s environment.
DT - What is so appealing about a Mayweather/ Pacquiao match-up?
MS This is what still keeps me interested in the game: When you have the two very best fighters today, evenly matched, at the top of their gamewho are also fun to watch. Their styles mesh beautifully. It is an interesting matchup and it’s exciting to think about their eventual showdown. As the great Mills Lane used to say, “Let’s get it on!”
DT - Mike, as usual it is an honor to discuss boxing with you!
Readers: If boxing were a course taught at college then Professor Mike Silver's masterpiece " The Arc of Boxing: The Rise and Decline of the Sweet Science” would be required reading!!!
Father's day is just around the corner. Mike's masterpiece "The Arc of Boxing" would make an excellent gift for any Dad that likes boxing. Amazon.com is selling the book for $44.00 and it's worth every penny but you can purchase an autographed copy of the book from Mike directly for $35.00 until the end of June. Contact Mike at this address - MSilver33@gmail.com. For reviews of "The Arc of Boxing" go to: "MikeSilverBoxing.com", but when ordering at the discounted price e-mail Mike directly.
***David Tyler replies to all his e-mails and loves to hear from the readers. Comments, Questions, Suggestions, E-mail David now at:firstname.lastname@example.org
NEW: Follow DoghouseBoxing on FaceBook!