The year’s biggest boxing match is nearly upon us, as pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao, one of the world’s most recognizable athletes, defends his welterweight crown against future Hall-of-Famer Sugar Shane Mosley tomorrow night. It really isn’t often in boxing, especially these days, where two legendary fighters face each other. And while Mosley’s career is coming to an end, it would be unfair to forget about what he’s accomplished in one of the great boxing careers of the past twenty years. And with this being Mosley’s last shot at glory, you expect him at his best. Pacquiao is riding a wave of popularity that few athletes reach. He’s the unquestioned global face of his sport and is on a head-turning streak that has seen him repeatedly take out bigger, top-quality fighters.
I’ll admit that when this fight was made, I wasn’t in love with it. Many felt the same as I did. How did Mosley, who just drew against Sergio Mora in perhaps the worst fight of 2010, earn a shot against the sport’s best? It was simple boxing politics, with Top Rank promoter Bob Arum pitting two of his biggest names together. With Top Rank and rival promoter Golden Boy in a bicker-fest that’s doing no justice to the sport, Arum needed someone in his stable for Pacquiao to fight, and more so, someone who could sell a fight. The pickings were slim. Mosley was the only realistic option, all things considered. At this point, Pacquiao could fight just about anyone, and it’s going to gain a huge audience. On top of that, Mosley is a name fighter, and although he’s never bee a big draw by himself, is probably the biggest name in the sport you could find as an “opponent”.
Pacquiao is rightly favored in this fight. If Manny continues to perform the way he has in his last few fights, he’ll likely win. There really isn’t anything that leads us to believe he won’t come in at top condition, as his trainer Freddie Roach has noted that this has been one of Pacquiao’s best training camps in the 10 years they’ve been together. That’s probably not a great sign for Mosley. Pacquiao will see an older, faded fighter in front of him, and will come out aggressive.
But throwing away Mosley’s chances wouldn’t be smart. Mosley was left for dead by the public before his match in January of 2009 against Antonio Margarito. Coming into that fight, Margarito was believed to be the superior fighter, and Mosley’s career finished. Mosley had just eked out a victory against Ricardo Mayorga, no special boxer by any means. It was supposed to be a destruction, and it was, except it was Mosley who turned back the clock and battered Margarito. Margarito’s hand wrap controversy aside, Mosley’s career was given a lifeline. He has that same chance again tomorrow night, his back up against the wall, his career seemingly ready to end after any loss.
How Pacquiao Can Win
Be Pacquiao. It’s incredible how fast and powerful Manny still is as he moves up in weight. He fought above the welterweight limit in his last fight against Margarito and looked quick, although anyone would probably look speedy against the lumbering Mexican. But back at welterweight, where he’s shutout Joshua Clottey and knocked out the tough as nails Miguel Cotto, Pacquiao is probably at his best. He also proved in his fights with Margarito at Cotto that he can take a punch. The question is, is Mosley quick enough to catch Pacquiao with a fight-changing shot? Pacquiao’s ability to move and jab and fire lightning-quick combinations will be tough for the 39-year-old Mosley to deal with.
How Mosley Can Win
Find Pacquiao and make his shots count. If you look at Manny’s face after wins against Cotto and Margarito, he has gotten hit. Pacquiao’s aggressiveness has yet to hurt him, but he hasn’t really faced anyone recently who has had the ability to flip the switch and use it against him. Mosley will have to do so to have a chance. As Pacquiao comes forward, he will give Mosley opportunities to connect. He can’t miss those opportunities.
What a Win Does for Pacquiao
Keeps him on top of the boxing world, and further validates his already legendary career. As long as Mosley puts up an effort and it’s not a complete mismatch, it will be a solid win for Pacquiao. The Mayweather-Pacquaio rumors will start right away, but expect Manny to complete a trilogy with Juan Manuel Marquez first while Mayweather figured out his legal troubles.
What a Win Does for Mosley
Revives his career, if he so chooses to continue it. It would be the biggest, most notable win in Mosley’s career, and would honestly be a pretty huge story in the sports world. A rematch would likely take place, and that wouldn’t be a bad way for Mosley to end his storied career.
Mosley has to survive the early rounds. Pacquiao will come out guns blazing, looking to end the night early. If Mosley can withstand an early flurry, stay patient, and get to the middle rounds, he has a shot. In the end, Pacquiao will be too fast, too powerful, and simply too much. Mosley’s best chance is to catch Pacquiao with a counter, and make it count. Sugar Shane nearly did that against Mayweather in the second round of their fight, but Mayweather held on. But Pacquiao has proved he can take punched from big bangers, and while he will take some shots, he’ll inflict a lot more damage than he takes. Pacquiao’s relentless offense leads to a late stoppage, the first of Mosley’s career. Manny stays as the pound-for-pound number one, while Mosley hopefully closes the book on a brilliant career.
Manny Pacquiao TKO-10