By Jason Pribila: It has been over a week since news broke that Manny Pacquiao would be facing Shane Mosley on May 7, 2011 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, USA. This news did not come as a surprise, nor was it well received by the boxing public. Boxing scribes, who were busy looking back and rewarding the Best of 2010, found the time in between buying, opening, and returning gifts to take shots at Pacquiao’s choice for his next opponent.
It is understandable that many are still sour over the failure to deliver Pacquiao – Mayweather in 2010. For many, they simply will not settle for anyone facing off against the number one fighter in the world, other than number two. The gap between Pacquiao – Mayweather, and everyone else widens each time one of them disposes of a challenge.
Last year I was in the minority, and I actually wanted to see Mayweather – Mosley on the first weekend of May. I was admittedly selfish, but this was my personal dream fight. Plus, when the dust settled on May 2, the victor would be that much more attractive to face Pacquiao. After six minutes I was jabbed back to reality, and realized that I should be more careful for what I wish.
A year later, not even the Mosley fan in me is thrilled that he is getting a shot against Pacquiao at this stage of his career. I am not going to allow the fabricated talk of how distracted Pacquiao is leading up to the fight. Nor, will I allow the teaching and preaching of Brother Naazim Richardson to influence me in believing that he could devise a plan to disable the Pac-Monster. Not even the voice of Liev Schrieber or the music of HBO’s “24/7” will hypnotize me into believing I am purchasing anything more than a showcase for the best fighter in the world, and a farewell to my favorite fighter.
The purpose of this article is not to sell this match-up to anyone. I’ve tried that in the past; and even offered Golden Boy Promotions the opportunity to save face by pulling their “Who R U Picking” slogan in exchange for the much sharper, “Pretty Sweet”. Despite all my efforts, I was still on the hook for the full price of the Pay Per View.
This article is instead aimed at some of the well respected writers who have described this match as a “disgrace” or “bad for boxing”. I hope to show by examining the rankings of fighters between junior middle and junior welter, why when it comes to discussing Pacquiao – Mosley the only question should be, “Why not?”
Negotiations to face Pacquiao began with three fighters in play: Mosley, Juan Manuel Marquez, and Andre Berto. The main reason people felt that Mosley should be excluded from consideration was his 0-1-1 record in 2010. Mayweather won every moment from round three until the final bell, and Mosley had the look of a fighter who was unable to pull the trigger.
As far as the Sergio Mora debacle…. Stop it! No one would look good against a guy that simply did not want to fight. I never knew ring generalship involved turning your back to an opponent and running. As dreadful as the fight was, I still gave a vulnerable Mosley the 9-3 edge on my scorecard.
Juan Manuel Marquez is the sentimental favorite to get a third shot against Pacquiao on the strength of his first two showings. Marquez got off the deck three times in the first round of their first fight to earn a disputed draw. A knockdown was the difference when Marquez came up on the wrong side of a split decision in their rematch. Marquez has since won the lineal lightweight title and defended it three times, two of which were considered the best fights of 2009 and 2010.
I would have no problem with Marquez getting the shot at Pacquiao, especially on Cinco de Mayo weekend. However, I feel that at 147 pounds, Marquez would be the least competitive of the three. He had one less moment than Mosley did against Mayweather when he attempted to climb the scale in 2009. And his wars with Juan Diaz and Michael Katsidis have shown that Marquez is now more susceptible to taking punishment. I feel that there is now a gap between Pacquiao and Marquez at any weight, especially at welterweight.
As for those who suggested that Pacquiao should meet Marquez at junior welterweight need to stop hitting the “snooze” button, and wake up because they are dreaming. That is like asking the New England Patriots to give up their home field advantage, and instead play the Indianapolis Colts inside a Dome because it would make it would likely lead to a closer game. It’s not happening.
Andre Berto is young and undefeated. He has been the beneficiary of HBO overpaying him for padding his record with soft opposition. He was scheduled to face Mosley in January of 2010, but the earthquake that devastated Haiti forced him to pull out of the fight. He had the chance to face Mosley in September, but was too near-sighted to take less money to potentially add a future Hall of Famer’s name to his resume. Had Berto agreed to the terms in September, and was able to defeat Mosley, he would have a much stronger case to face Pacquaio in May.
If you were not satisfied with the three finalists presented by Top Rank’s Bob Arum, let’s take a look at who else would be available.
This list does not include facing middleweight champion Sergio Martinez at a 155 lb. catch-weight. Sure, I would like to know if the 2011 Philadelphia Phillies pitching staff would be able to shut down the offense Cincinnati Reds of the 1970’s, but I’m trying to keep reality within sight.
Pacquiao’s beat down of Antonio Margarito earned him a trinket at junior middleweight. If he were to look for opposition in that weight class he could look at Sergei Dzinziruk (Ranked #1 by SecondsOut).
Dzinziruk is in the running for a shot at Martinez’s middleweight gold in March. He has a huge physical advantage and a Winky Wright type jab. In other words, the risk vs reward eliminates him from the running.
Kermit Cintron (#7 SecondsOut). Would the message boards light up at the thought of this fight. Based on the unfair opinion those have regarding Cintron, I’m sure some wizard would predict that, “Cintron would do a back-dive off the top rope into a bucket of his own tears before he would beat Pacquiao.” Cintron is probably not a good sell at this time.
The rest of the division offers a rematch against Miguel Cotto (no thanks), a deported Alfredo Angulo, and Ryan Rhodes, who is unknown in the US.
Suddenly, Larry Merchant’s suggestion that Saul “Canelo” Alvarez eventually face Pacquiao is not so far fetched.
The top five welterweights in the world are: Mayweather, Pacquiao, Berto, Mosley, and Clottey. A first round knockout of Freddy Hernandez is not enough to convince me that Berto is a better choice than Mosley. Also, Berto did not seem too upset that he was passed over.
The junior welterweight division is full of young and hungry fighters willing to take on the best to become the best. Fighters who are less concerned with keeping an “0” in the loss column than proving to themselves that they are the best in the division is a good thing for boxing. The only issue is that it is going to take time to sort everything out and present Pacquiao with a legitimate and universally accepted opponent.
Timothy Bradley and Devon Alexander are set to place themselves in the driver’s seat when they face each other on January 29, 2011. Whoever emerges victorious from the battle of undefeated titlists will be on the fast track to stardom. However, they would not quite be ready to move up to welterweight without first crossing paths with Britain’s Amir Khan.
Khan is trained by Freddie Roach and just enjoyed a career defining victory against the hard hitting Marcos Maidana. He has the size and speed to be considered even money against Bradley or Alexander, and his history with Roach / Pacquiao would only add to the biggest fight that could be made in boxing… in 2012.
Another issue facing each of the junior welterweights is that none of them are promoted by Top Rank Inc. Bradley (Gary Shaw), Alexander (Don King), and Khan (Golden Boy) would force Bob Arum to share the dias with another promoter for the first time since Pacquiao fought Ricky Hatton. Arum would contest that he should not be forced to allow other promoters/fighters to reap the rewards that a Pacquiao payday would bring.
Bradley has been groomed as a nice draw at his home turf at the Agua Caliente Casino in California. Alexander is the top ticket seller in St. Louis, Missouri. Their fight is taking place at the Silverdome in Pontiac, Michigan. This promotion has the uphill battle of selling fighters that are only well known by hardcore fight fans; at a venue that casual sports fans thought was imploded 10 years ago.
The former home of the NFL’s Detroit Lions from 1975 to 1991 had a magical ring to it when Pat Summerall’s voice would introduce who would be playing on Thanksgiving Day. The Silverdome also set an indoor attendance record for North America when 93,173 people filled the place to see Andre “The Giant” challenge Hulk Hogan at WrestleMania III. One would imagine that there are going to be plenty of empty seats on January 29.
So as we put 2010 in our rearview, we once again have plenty of ammo to rant and rail against when it comes to the sport we love. However, I suggest we first make sure we have the right people in our cross hairs.
“Sugar” Shane Mosley is a born fighter. Folks who have followed him from an amateur will attest that he has never backed away from a fight, whether it was a main event in Las Vegas, or in a gym in Southern California. He made some career mistakes when he rose to the top of the pound for pound chain, and never reached the cross-over stardom of Oscar De La Hoya, despite beating him twice.
This is not the 2000 version of Shane Mosley, who himself rose from lightweight to welterweight. It has been years since he fluidly thrown combinations, and almost a decade since he made adjustments during a fight. He was hand-picked for a reason.
Mosley is not the Mosley of old, and he may very well be an old Mosley. However, he has never been in a boring fight against an offensive fighter. He will get hit, and look to answer when he does. He will absorb punishment, and may not make it to the final bell. Odds are at best we get Pacquaio – Morales III, and at worst we get Pacquiao – Cotto.
Mosley is not Mayweather. He is the one willing to face Manny Pacquiao.
Jason Pribila is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He could be reached for questions or comments at firstname.lastname@example.org
January 4, 2011