Two years ago Manny Pacquiao vs. Shane Mosley was the next best thing to Pacquiao-Mayweather. Now, in the eyes of most experts at least, it's a glorified mismatch pitting the pound-for-pound king against a 39-year-old who hasn't won in more than two years. Pacquiao is nearly a 7-1 favorite.
But in a year filled with upsets -- Rubio over Lemieux Ishida over Kirkland being just the most recent -- the "experts" have been caught flat-footed time and again. Will history repeat itself during Saturday's megamatch? Their respective CompuBox histories offer these clues:
A Matter of Styles?: Some blame Mosley's erosion on age, both in terms of chronology and ring wear While being 39 is not ideal for a world-class fighter, part of Mosley's slide must be attributed to Sergio Mora's herky-jerky style and Floyd Mayweather's technical brilliance. "The Latin Snake" and "Money" have made careers out of making others look bad and Mosley was just another victim.
Despite the draw verdict, Mosley was statistically superior. He out-landed Mora 161-93 overall, 37-27 in jabs and -- most importantly -- 124-66 in power shots. He landed 31 percent (overall) and 37.5 percent (power) while holding the lanky Mora to just 18.3 percent and 23.1 percent respectively. That speaks well of Mosley's reflexes, for he was defensively sharp against a quick-handed opponent. As for the judging, many rounds were tough to score due to both men fighting in spurts.
The Mayweather loss was an artistic and numerical blowout. Although their outputs were similar (477-452 Mayweather), "Money" was brutally efficient as he landed 43.6 percent overall to Mosley's 20.4; 40.5 percent of his jabs to Mosley's 16.3 and 46.1 percent of his power shots to Mosley's 27.2. The raw connect totals were just as ugly as Mayweather led 208-92 (overall), 85-46 (jabs) and 123-46 (power).
Meanwhile, Mosley prospered against aggressors. Against Antonio Margarito, Ricardo Mayorga and Fernando Vargas (twice) Mosley averaged 16.5 connects per round to his foes' 10.7 and led 34.8 percent to 22.2 (overall), 22.0 to 15.2 (jabs) and 47.1 to 25.1 (power). That's far better than the deficits of 26.0-30.6 (overall), 17.5-25.9 (jabs) and 34.0-34.2 (power) he suffered against Mayweather and Mora.
Therefore, it will be better for Pacquiao to mix plenty of skills and movement with his natural aggression, for Mayweather and Mora's tricks limited Mosley to 40.6 punches per round. Against the aggressors Mosley threw 47.4, still under the welterweight average of 58.2.
Pacquiao's Finishing Kick: Since rising to welterweight -- and beyond -- Pacquiao's fights have followed a pattern: Competitive starts followed by phenomenally lengthy bursts that break bodies and wills.
The first three rounds against Cotto were suspenseful but from round four onward Pacquiao meted out a frightful beating. In those rounds Pacquiao landed 43.2 percent overall (248 of 574) to Cotto's 29.2 percent (116 of 397), including 47.7 percent of his power shots (205 of 430) to Cotto's 29.9 percent (58 of 194). The discouraging effect of Pacquiao's attack was graphically demonstrated by this stat: From round five onward, Cotto never managed to reach double-digits in power connects while Pacquiao averaged 22.8.
Against Clottey, the raw damage was limited due to the Ghanaian's shell defense but the results were no less lopsided. Over the final five Pacquiao averaged 110.8 punches per round -- nearly double the welterweight average -- while the bedazzled Clottey threw just 34.8. That allowed Pacquiao to amass gaps of 124-44 in overall connects and 120-40 in landed power shots.
The most gruesome battering took place against Margarito, perhaps because "The Tijuana Tornado" continued to defiantly fire back. In rounds four through 12, Pacquiao unloaded 94.4 punches per round to Margarito's 69.5 and built leads of 404-174 (total connects) and 350-111 (power connects). The 10th and 11th were grotesque as Pacquiao went 64 of 116 (overall) and 55 of 101 (power) to Margarito's 13 of 64 and 9 of 57. Pacquiao showed mercy by slowing to a mere 34 of 79 overall (43 percent) and 27 of 51 in power shots (53 percent) in the 12th while Margarito struggled to 10 of 58 (17 percent) and 3 of 11 (38 percent).
To give himself the best chance Mosley must slow Pacquiao's attack, which averaged 85.6 punches per round and a 47 percent power connect rate since rising to welterweight. If he doesn't, it will be a long, painful night.
Prediction: Mosley will be competitive early, but Pacquiao's speed will be too much for this version of "Sugar Shane." Pacquiao will pull away to a lopsided unanimous decision.