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Pacquiao vs Mosley: Winners and Losers
By Jason Pribila: For the second straight year the first Saturday of May featured a contest between the best fighter in the world and my favorite fighter. And for the second straight year I had to turn off my cell phone, as it was flooded by “friends” who somehow found me responsible for the spike in their next cable bill. The funny thing is that many of these same guys invest much more money each year supporting the NFL’s Philadelphia Eagles.
When Mike Tyson broke my heart, a lightweight with the nickname of “Sugar” mended my ticker. He was lightning fast, threw combinations, and remained humble as he climbed the pound for pound ranks. His first victory over Oscar De La Hoya remains my favorite night as a boxing fan. When Mosley signed to fight Antonio Margarito in 2009, I booked a flight to Los Angeles. My feeling was that if it was the end of the road or a shining moment, I wanted to be there. Two years later, Mosley was again a huge underdog so I used the same reasoning to add to my very infrequent flier miles. This time the results were much different. I did not expect a 39 year old Mosley to defeat Pacquiao, but I’m even more surprised that I left the MGM Grand disappointed.
When this fight was made I thought that at best we would see Pacquiao – Morales III, and at worst we would get Pacquiao – Cotto. Instead we found a fighter that could take the excitement out of a Pacquiao bout.
Hopefully Mosley’s uninspiring performance inspired an entertaining read as I share my list of the evening’s “Winners and Losers”.
5. Closed Circuit Crowd at MGM Grand: I was unable to secure tickets for the fight, but I wanted to be part of the atmosphere for a big fight in Las Vegas. I secured a seat at the MGM Grand Convention Center, and was able to enjoy the Pay Per View with over 5,000 of my closest friends.
If you ever go to a fight and can’t get seats, I highly recommend this as an alternative. As soon as the PPV started it was greeted with the applause of a few thousand people. This was much different than what I’m used to when I’m hosting a PPV. Normally at 9pm I’m greeted with text messages that read, “What time is the main event”, or verbal queries about where the coldest adult beverages are being chilled. On this night I was surrounded by real boxing fans. Folks that were shut out from getting seats reserved for sponsors or high rollers. The crowd was in to every fight, and they were responsible for making the evening memorable.
4. Kelly Pavlik: The former middleweight champion made his ring return after a thirteen month absence, and a well-documented battle to become sober. Pavlik is worthy of being on this list for admitting he has a problem, and doing something about it. I wish the “Ghost” of Youngstown, Ohio luck on his continued success.
As for his performance, Pavlik is now campaigning at super middleweight. He was in the ring with an undefeated fighter, Alfonso Lopez, who was determined to keep his “0” intact. The expected ring rust was apparent early, and I felt Pavlik was in trouble when he suffered a cut caused by an accidental head-butt. Pavlik dug deep, and took control of the fight by scoring shots to the body and well placed left hooks. He won by majority decision, and earned his payday.
I’m sure it was a bit humbling for Pavlik to accept a fight on the undercard of a PPV, but he logged important rounds in front of a large television audience. I hope his team keeps him busy, and remains patient in his new weight class. He needs to get back in to fighting shape, and tighten up his defense. Right now, a fight with Lucien Bute is being discussed for the Fall. I think that fight would be better served for the Fall of 2012.
3. Top Rank: This promotion has been further evidence as to why Bob Arum’s company is the best the sport has to offer. Moving the sport’s biggest star from HBO to Showtime allowed boxing to get some positive attention on Prime Time network television. The arena was electric, and on television the fight resembled fight cards that take place in Europe and Canada. They made the “biggest” night of boxing feel like the Super Bowl (until, of course, the bell rang for the main event).
We must also remember that the effort put in to the undercard may not have added to the PPV numbers, but it was well appreciated by the die-hard fight fans. Imagine if the planned rematch between Humberto Soto and Urbano Antillon had been added to the card.
2. Showtime Boxing: The Pepsi to HBO’s Coke has been closing the gap between the cable giants for years. Never has it been more apparent than when they landed a PPV featuring the globe’s most popular fighter. Their presentation of the biggest night of the year went extremely well. Early stoppages on undercard fights often lead to dead-air. Showtime has used their air time to promote future fights or programming by having live interviews during telecasts. Although I usually don’t enjoy interviews with actors or MMA fighters, I thought that the interview conducted by James Brown and the final four fighters of their innovative “Super Six Tournament” was very entertaining and got the juices flowing for each match-up. The verbal jab that Froch landed on Abraham was well placed.
As for the commentators, the lack of action probably saved your surround sound from Gus Johnson’s voice. Al Bernstein is a pro’s pro, and Antonio Tarver gets better every telecast.
They do, however need a narrator for their next production of Fight Camp 360. If Liev Schrieber is under contract with HBO; how about Morgan Freeman?
1. Jorge Arce – Wilfredo Vazquez Jr.: If not for Jamie Fox, Tyrese, and LL Cool J; the Arce – Vazquez bout would have made Pacquiao – Mosley feel like a walk-out bout. When the fight was signed, everyone was able to assume that Arce would make the fight exciting, but most felt that the younger, fresher Vazquez would win by late stoppage.
Arce started aggressively and imposed his will on his young opponent. To his credit, Vazquez withstood the early storm, and began to return fire, which was highlighted by a fourth round knockdown at the end of round four.
The two continued to trade on even terms until the championship rounds when the more experienced Arce landed big shots in round 11. It was all Arce until Vazquez’s corner stopped a fight of the year candidate.
This was a rare fight that deserved to be fought in front of the audience that paid to see it. It is always a credit to the sport when a fight could elevate the profile of both fighters. The bout ended with Vazquez on his feet, but hopefully it came at the right time. Hopefully it will be a learning experience, and not a fight that “ruined” him.
4. “Sugar” – Two fighters came to the ring with the nickname of “Sugar” on Saturday Night. Each of them left their fighting spirit in the locker room. When a nickname is attached to fighters like Robinson, Leonard, and a pre-2010 Mosley, it needs to be reserved for only elite fighters. Ray Narh, not so much.
I was always told that sugar was bad for your teeth. Saturday night it was bad for the heart.
3. 6pm – 8pm Crowd at MGM Grand: To me, there is nothing more deflating than counting down the moments before a PPV comes on the air, than the cameras scanning on an empty arena. The temperature was in the low-90’s, the house always wins, if you have a ticket to a prize fight, you need to get your ass in your seat by the time the television cameras go Live.
Fight fans complain about the quality of undercards, but fighting in front of a press row is tough to ask a fighter who is used to being the main event on smaller cards.
2. HBO: While I was waiting in the Will Call line I started to think about how Larry Merchant would be describing the event we were about to witness. It was at that time that it hit me that a major PPV would not be produced by HBO.
I am sure that the suits at the “Network of Champions” are going to do everything in their power to bring the sport’s most popular fighter back to their airwaves. However, it had to feel like a left hook to the body to see Kelly Pavlik being introduced by Jimmy Lennon Jr.
In the past two months HBO has seen Miguel Cotto, Kelly Pavlik, and Pacquiao on Showtime broadcasts. Their investments in the junior welterweight division did not work out, and Floyd Mayweather Jr. will be spending more time in court than in the ring. They need to invest in fights and not fighters. Kind of like, Showtime.
1. Shane Mosley: He will be enshrined in the Boxing Hall of Fame five years after he retires. He has been an ambassador to boxing, and I am happy he ended his career earning the paydays that eluded him throughout his career. However, at this time, he needs to accept the gold watch he earned Saturday night, and walk away.
Mosley once had the tools necessary to stop Manny Pacquiao, but he robbed himself and his fans by refusing to try. No one shows up at a weigh-in looking like Mosley if he is phoning in a fight. However, he has been around the sport long enough to know that his fans, and boxing fans deserve more of an effort.
Mosley cut ties and bought his way out of Golden Boy Promotions in order to land this fight, and I have to believe that he believed he could win the fight. However, I could only write about what I saw, and I saw a guy that did not want to fight.
If in fact the exposure on network television brought new fans to the sport, I’m certain that they won’t come back. When you sign a contract to challenge the sport’s best fighter on it’s biggest night, you are responsible for delivering a product that will bring them back. In order for boxing to grow, it has to rely on winning over the fans that are too young to remember Mosley – De La Hoya I.
Mosely claimed he had a blister on his foot. Last year he said he had a stiff neck. Shane needs to ask himself when his fighting spirit got fractured.
Jason Pribila is a full member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He could be reached for questions and comments at email@example.com or on twitter at PribsBoxing.
May 9, 2011