LAS VEGAS — Ask Shane Mosley how he can beat Manny Pacquiao, and the answer is match his speed and don’t be afraid to trade punches with a fighter who loves to trade punches. Ask trainer Naazim Richardson how his fighter can beat the best boxer in the world, and the answer is slightly different.
“If he can be the best Sugar Shane Mosley there is, then Pacquiao has problems,” Richardson said.
Unfortunately, Mosley hasn’t been his best for quite some time. And that could make for a rough night Saturday when he tries to bounce back from a bad loss to Floyd Mayweather Jr. against a fighter who lately has been beating up everyone put in front of him.
The 39-year-old Mosley will try to resurrect his career with a signature win over Pacquiao, who once again is so confident of his chances that he has scheduled a post-fight concert on the Las Vegas Strip for all his loyal followers. Mosley must not only battle Pacquiao, who has won 13 straight fights, but the perception that he is a shot fighter after one last big payday.
“It’s an opportunity to show people I’m not washed up,” Mosley said. “You don’t lose your power. They say you lose your speed, but I haven’t lost my speed either.”
Pacquiao certainly hasn’t lost his, and is coming off an 8-week training camp that trainer Freddie Roach said was his best ever. The Filipino sensation who travels with an entourage bigger than any Muhammad Ali had in his day, remains focused on boxing even while working a side job as a congressman back home and singing with his band.
His real work, though, comes in the ring in big pay-per-view fights. And ever since he sent Oscar De La Hoya into retirement by giving him a brutal beating, Pacquiao has been the most exciting fighter of his time.
“This is an important fight for me and millions of my fans,” Pacquiao said. “You cannot underestimate him. He’s strong, throws a lot of punches and moves fast.”
The Mosley of old certainly did that. But after losing a lopsided decision to Mayweather and struggling in a draw against Sergio Mora last September, many in boxing simply consider Mosley (46-6-1, 39 KOs) to be old.
Oddsmakers agree, making Pacquiao a 6-1 favourite in a fight that has been sold out for weeks at the MGM Grand hotel arena. The scheduled 12-round fight is for the WBO version of the welterweight title that Pacquiao won against Miguel Cotto. Pacquiao weighed in at 145 pounds, while Mosley was at 147.
Pacquiao, returning to the same ring where he made his U.S. debut 10 years ago, is coming off two fights at Cowboys Stadium in Texas. In his last fight there in November he gave a bigger Antonio Margarito such a beating that Margarito was hospitalized and had to have surgery on his eye socket.
But Pacquiao (52-3-2, 38 knockouts) was also on the receiving end of a lot of punches by Margarito, largely because he’s the kind of fighter unafraid of mixing it up.
“When you like to exchange and you like to throw punches, you put yourself in harm’s way,” Roach said. “That’s why Manny is the most exciting fighter in the world. I can’t take that away from him. He’s always liked to throw combinations, and when you let your hands go you leave yourself open.”
Mosley, who gave up his ownership share in De La Hoya’s Golden Boy Productions to get the fight, is eager to find out just how hittable Pacquiao might be.
“I think it’s going to be an action fight from the beginning,” Mosley (46-6-1, 39 KOs) said. “It’s going to get very interesting, very quick.”
Almost lost in the buildup has been talk about Pacquiao fighting Mayweather in what would likely be the richest fight in boxing history. Mayweather, who hasn’t fought in a year and is facing legal charges in three criminal cases, has given no indication he is serious about a fight with the man most in boxing say is the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world.
“I don’t want to talk about Floyd Mayweather’s issues or anything like that,” Pacquiao said. “I’m the kind of person who doesn’t want to talk about someone behind his back. He did his best in boxing. He contributed to the history of boxing.”
Part of that history, Mayweather supporters might argue, is that he softens up fighters for Pacquiao. Mayweather beat De La Hoya before Pacquiao fought him and knocked out Ricky Hatton before Pacquiao also stopped Hatton. Now Pacquiao takes on Mosley, hoping to improve on the lopsided decision win that Mayweather scored against a fighter who has never been stopped.
“If the knockouts come, they come,” Pacquiao said. “What matters is the fight that we can give to the people and the fans. I want them to be happy and excited about our performance.”
Pacquiao is expected to make at least US$20 million, while Mosley is guaranteed $5 million plus a percentage of pay-per-view sales.
Tim Dahlberg can be reached at http://twitter.com/TimDahlberg