By Ryan Songalia
There was no hint of trash talk at the final press conference on Wednesday before Manny Pacquiao meets Shane Mosley in a WBO welterweight title fight this weekend at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
In fact, the two seemed almost complicit as they both went on the record promising to collaborate for a fan-friendly clash that would provide a storm to follow the comforting tranquility of their pre-fight media engagements.
Yet while the media digs for new angles to a story that boasts no animosity, the 32-year-old former eight-division champ Pacquiao (52-3-2, 38 KO) and the 39-year-old three-division champ Mosley (46-6-1, 39 KO) of Pomona, Calif. are content to remind us that boxing is just a sport.
"I'm happy for this fight because there's no trash talking," said the sport's consensus pound for pound champion Pacquiao. "It's a good example to the children who idolize the fighters. The best promotion of my boxing career is the Mosley fight because everybody here is friends."
The only contention came from promoter Bob Arum of Top Rank Inc., who took a dig at HBO by saying claiming that the Showtime/CBS aired promotional series Fight Camp 360 will have been seen by 4 million individual people, while HBO's 24/7 only reaches a third of that.
Still, as Saturday's clash (Showtime PPV, 9PM ET, $54.95) closes in, Pacquiao and his trainer Freddie Roach are just as ready to bring the pain as they are to extol Mosley's pleasant manner.
"I think we'll dominate him if we fight the right fight and win by knockout," said Roach, who will be receiving his fifth Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) Trainer of the Year award this Friday at their annual award dinner.
"I'm really proud of Manny for this training camp. From day one, he told me this is not an easy fight. We respect Shane and his camp. I think it's the best training camp we've ever had. We're fighting one of the most crafty guys out there, he's intelligent and experienced."
"I never underestimate Mosley because he's a good fighter," said Pacquiao, who also serves as a congressman in the Filipino province of Sarangani.
"If you think he's old, he's not old. He moves like he's 32 years old. He has hand speed, foot speed and he's strong. He knocked [Antonio] Margarito out and I fought Margarito and we finished 12 rounds, so he has the advantage there."
Against other common opponents, Pacquiao holds a twelfth round TKO win over Miguel Cotto, who had beaten Mosley by decision. Both hold wins over Oscar de la Hoya, though Mosley's two wins came when "The Golden Boy" was closer to his prime.
Indeed Mosley, who turns 40 in September, is in the twilight of his Hall of Fame career that has rarely seen him in a dull fight. Those exciting matchups have kept Mosley in demand as his career has wound down (just eight wins in his last sixteen matches dating back to 2002), but they have likely left Mosley with just one great performance left in him, if that.
A great old fighter is still a great fighter, and Roach sees a different kind of fighter than what Pacquiao has faced recently.
"Manny's fought punchers before, but I will say that this is the fastest puncher we've fought and I think speed is more of a factor than power in a boxer. This makes Shane a little more dangerous."
Pacquiao too has seen his share of wars and is in the last leg of his fighting career, though his stately manner on the podium suggests that he is gradually becoming more politician than pugilist by the day.
Pacquiao announced he will wear yellow gloves, which will indicate his support of the anti-poverty organization Gawad Kalinga.
Yellow is also closely associated with Cory Aquino, the Philippines' former president and greatest political hero. She held an office that a growing number of people feel Pacquiao will one day occupy as well.
"All my life, I've had to fight," said Pacquiao. "As a child I had to fight just to eat. Now when I fight, Filipinos call me 'bayani,' or a hero. I believe this world needs more heroes. The biggest fight in my life is not in boxing, the biggest fight in my life is how to end poverty in my country."
His opponent Mosley is also someone fighting for a cause, this one his own. As Emmanuel Steward once said on air during an HBO telecast, money becomes a greater motivator each year that passes in a fighter's career.
And a desperate man is a dangerous one.
"Maybe [Pacquiao and Roach] saw my last fight [a draw against Sergio Mora] and said, 'If Shane fights this way, I see a knockout for Manny.' But if Manny fights the way he did against Margarito, I see a knockout for me."
Ryan Songalia is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America (BWAA) and contributes to GMANews.TV and the Filipino Reporter newspaper. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org . An archive of his work can be found atwww.ryansongalia.com . Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ryansongalia.