Mosley Ignores Underdog Tag

By Matthew Hurley: So why should anyone who follows prize fighting believe for a second that Shane Mosley has any chance of pulling off the upset against Manny Pacquiao this Saturday night? Mosley contends it’s the very notion so many believe he will be clobbered into retirement by the Filipino icon that he will leave everyone eating crow. He knows upsets are always in the offing, and all it takes is one shot.

One shot was all he was able to deliver when he took on Floyd Mayweather in May of 2010. But it was one helluva shot that nearly dropped Mayweather and for just a brief moment, had every Floyd-Hater on their feet rejoicing the demise of boxing’s most polarizing figure.

And then the moment slipped away.

Mosley couldn’t follow up as Mayweather dipped and rolled his way out of danger. From that moment on the man nicknamed “Sugar” became caramelized and slogged through the final ten rounds, unable to catch lightening in a bottle a second time.

Mosley would have us believe that it was Mayweather’s defensive-minded approach that led to such a dismal performance. But the fact remains, he looked like an old fighter unable to pull the trigger when openings presented themselves.

“Pacquiao will fight,” Mosley says. “He likes to fight so he won’t run when I catch him. That’s why this will be such an exciting fight.”

Mosley’s fighting spirit must never be denied. It’s what has made him such a fan favorite over the many years he has plied his craft. He’s taken on many of the best of his era, even demanding rematches with Vernon Forrest and Winky Wright after one sided losses – two fighters who would always stylistically present him with nothing but problems. He has earned the right to a few hefty paydays as his career comes to an end. But is he deluding himself when it comes to his chances against the Pac Man, who shows no real signs of slippage?

In Mosley’s defense the adage that an aging, formerly superior athlete has one last great performance left inside him is one that has been proven time and time again. Erik Morales’ recent performance against overwhelming favorite Marcos Maidana is the most recent example. Morales used every veteran trick he could think of to leave his less talented, overly aggressive opponent swinging and missing. Although it wouldn’t have been a classic Morales bout without some macho posturing and vicious exchanges to ratchet up the tension. Mosley sees a lot of himself in Morales – a warrior spirit coupled with a high boxing IQ. It’s why he insists to all who will listen, just as Morales did before the Maidana fight, that he can not only compete with Pacquiao but also get to him and bust him up.

Because of their styles, Shane believes he can produce an effort worthy of the one Erik put up and shock the boxing world.

At the opening press conference an ebullient Mosley looked as though he had a secret that he could finally let everyone in on.

“I’m gonna mess up his rhythm,” he said. “Being that he is a very exciting fighter and likes to bring it, that leaves openings for me. It won’t go the distance. This is the type of fight that could never go the distance.”

That last rumination is one most agree with, although pundits and the odds have Mosley being the one short-circuited and flat on his back. But Shane, that ever present smile creasing his face, shrugs at the naysayers and insists that May 7th will be much like January of 2009 when, again a prohibitive underdog, he took Antonio Margarito apart before knocking him out in the ninth round.

Pacquiao, whose recent training camps have come into questions, is not taking Mosley lightly. In fact there are no rumblings of discontent coming from Team Pacquiao and a lot of that is probably due to trainer Freddie Roach who knows that Mosley, despite diminishing returns in recent bouts, will always be dangerous, particularly if underestimated.

“If Manny Pacquiao is going to attack Shane Mosley, that’s what Shane likes,” he said recently on Showtime’s Fight Camp 360. “He’s a very good counter puncher. How we go about attacking him is the key. He’s got a very good chin. Mosley’s a tough guy.”

Should Mosley lose badly his days of fighting for big purses is probably over. Calls for his retirement will be ringing in his ears and the one thing that has dominated his adult life, the sport itself, will have led him to a crossroads so many fighters stumble on to and then wander down the wrong path. It would be a shame to see Mosley become a gatekeeper with increasingly slurring speech.

But if he acquits himself well or somehow pulls out a win it will be more padding for a hall of fame resume already overstuffed and could lead to a few more hefty checks. After his contentious divorce money is apparently an issue in his middle aged life when he had hoped it wouldn’t be.

As training camp has come to a close Shane Mosley seems relaxed and confident. Only when Manny Pacquiao lashes out with those vicious combinations will Mosley truly know if he has anything left other than his courage. It’s why Freddie Roach is predicting a knockout victory for his charge. Mosley won’t have the ability or even the mindset to run so he will plant his feet and look for that one opening, that one moment when he can turn back the clock and taste sweet victory yet again. But if that opening closes before he can break through, it will be a long, painful night for the man called “Sugar”.

May 5, 2011
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