by David P. Greisman
Sometimes a big fight will become the black hole at the center of the boxing universe. All of our energy goes toward it. We draw closer and closer to it until we cannot escape its gravitational pull.
Sometimes, however, a big fight is announced with a big bang, but then lacks any big buzz until the stars align just right. The talk turns to other fights in the interim.
The time to talk Pacquiao-Mosley – and nothing but Manny Pacquiao, Shane Mosley and the implications of their fight this Saturday – is now.
With the fight just days away, these are my final thoughts:
- I don’t think Shane Mosley is a shot fighter. I do think he’s shown himself in recent years to be skittish around fighters whose punches he can’t see coming as easily.
Mosley looked uneasy against Ricardo Mayorga, whose powerful punches come at wild angles.
After one successful round, he was rendered offensively impotent against Floyd Mayweather Jr., whose elusiveness and sharp counter right hands left Mosley hesitant to throw too often.
He failed to impress against Sergio Mora, whose awkwardness left Mosley tense as he pursued an unorthodox target.
(Antonio Margarito was predictable, even if his punches typically loop.)
Pacquiao will be willing to engage Mosley. That doesn’t mean he’ll just stand in front of him.
Pacquiao’s success is based on in-and-out movement, quick flurries that are followed by ducking to his right and stepping to the side. And if the brief sparring footage shown this past weekend on “Fight Camp 360” is any indication, Pacquiao might also use a similar strategy to that implemented early on in his own bout against Margarito.
In that fight, Pacquiao moved away and forced the taller Margarito to lean down and forward with his shots. That brought him in range and off-balance for Pacquiao’s counters.
The suggestion that Pacquiao fits the mold of the opponents Mosley prefers is an inaccurate one. He might stand in front of Mosley momentarily, but such positioning is a “blink-and-you’ll-miss-him” proposition.
And the success that Margarito had in hitting Pacquiao against the ropes doesn’t necessarily correlate to meaning that Mosley – a faster, more technically proficient fighter than Margarito – will be able to do the same thing. Mosley is not a pressure fighter in the mold of Margarito – hence why he prefers opponents to stand in front of him.
- That said, Pacquiao remains vulnerable against this larger, more powerful opposition he’s been facing in the past year-and-a-half.
While Pacquiao has enough pop to gain their respect, and while his speed augments the effect of that power, he does not have heavy enough hands to dispose of welterweights with a single shot. And the disparity in natural size – he eats to make weight, they diet to make weight – means their punches have a disproportionate effect on him.
Joshua Clottey didn’t land often on Pacquiao, but when he did, Pacquiao was visibly affected. A few rounds of trading with Miguel Cotto left Pacquiao’s face marked up. Antonio Margarito’s body work had Pacquiao clearly in pain against the ropes.
Pacquiao’s run hasn’t just been amazing due to his speed carrying up to higher weights, though he does look even faster when compared to bigger, slower fighters. His run hasn’t just been amazing due to his ability to still earn his opponent’s respect with his punches. It’s also been impressive that he’s tough enough to take their shots.
Punishment eventually adds up. When Shane Mosley hits him, will Pacquiao feel just the effect of Mosley’s shots, or will he also be affected by the accumulation of the heavy punches that have come from others?
- This most recent episode of “Fight Camp 360” finally entertained. By no coincidence, that’s because Pacquiao and Mosley were the focal points of the episode and not just supporting characters in their own show.
The storyline was no longer just about the goings-on around the fighters, but about preparing for their ultimate destination, for the fight itself. We saw both guys training. We heard their trainers breaking down the fight. That was supplemented with the fighters’ back-stories, necessary information for selling the pay-per-view to potential but uneducated viewers.
The third episode – which aired at 8 p.m. Eastern Time on Saturday on CBS – pulled in an average viewership of more than a million during its hour-long broadcast, according to Nielsen ratings provided in an article on Zap2it.com.
That article described “Fight Camp 360” as “barely register[ing],” but CBS finishing in fourth place on the typically dead viewership night of Saturday night – and during a NASCAR race on FOX and during UFC bouts airing for free on Spike TV – isn’t so bad.
It isn’t so bad so long as a significant portion of the “Fight Camp” viewers weren’t the usual boxing fan audience. This show is about reaching viewers who wouldn’t typically watch boxing or who generally don’t purchase boxing pay-per-views and getting them to do just that.
- The fact that Top Rank’s negotiations for a third bout between Manny Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez are taking place before Pacquiao-Mosley has even taken place isn’t at all offensive. Rather, it’s wise.
Marquez has been in the process of negotiating a new contract with Golden Boy Promotions. But due to the feud between Top Rank and Golden Boy, Marquez knows that signing with Golden Boy again could keep a Pacquiao fight in the realm of the highly improbable.
It’s been reported that Golden Boy has a contractual right to match any fight offer made to Marquez. Should it offer as much money to Marquez (to face whomever) as Top Rank is presently offering for Marquez to face Pacquiao, then Marquez would not yet be able to take the Pacquiao fight.
Marquez could once again be left waiting for Pacquiao. But now he knows that a third Pacquiao fight is on the table, and that something else on the table – another contract with Golden Boy – doesn’t need to be signed quite yet.
- Manny Pacquiao would demolish Juan Manuel Marquez.
Pacquiao and Marquez fought to a draw in 2004. Pacquiao beat Marquez by razor-thin split decision in 2008.
The Juan Manuel Marquez of 2011 is not at all the Marquez of 2004 and 2008, and that’s to his disadvantage.
The Manny Pacquiao if 2011 is not at all the Pacquiao of 2004 and 2008, and that gives him a significant advantage against the Juan Manuel Marquez of 2011.
Pacquiao is no longer the predictable, one-dimensional fighter that floored Marquez three times in the first round of their 2004 bout. Marquez adjusted in that bout, figured out how to handle Pacquiao’s formidable single dimension, and earned that draw on the scorecards.
Pacquiao is also now a more complete product than he was in 2008, able to put the strategies of trainer Freddie Roach into action and implement them to near-perfection.
Marquez, meanwhile, gets hit and hurt much more than before. Yes, Marquez overcame trouble against Juan Diaz and Michael Katsidis and showed his amazing ability to adjust mid-fight by earning stoppage victories over both. But neither Diaz nor Katsidis even approach what Pacquiao now brings in the ring.
Beyond that, a third Pacquiao-Marquez fight would presumably take place in the welterweight division. While Pacquiao has to eat thousands of calories to get up to that weight, fighting at 147 also means he doesn’t need to drain himself at all to make the 140-pound limit at junior welterweight.
Marquez has had one fight at welterweight, coming in at a slowed-down 142-pound version of himself against Floyd Mayweather Jr. back in 2009.
Sometimes success while rising through weight classes comes down to body type. Pacquiao is still fast and strong at junior welterweight and welterweight. Marquez has yet to show himself to be either.
But that’s a fight for another night. The time to talk Pacquiao-Mosley is now.
This fight wasn’t the black hole at the center of the boxing universe that drew all our energy since its announcement. But it is now the bright star that we are presently revolving around. And it is the bright star that is very near on the horizon.
The 10 Count
1. Manny Pacquiao has sung on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
Mike Tyson has sung on Jimmy Kimmel Live.
The next step is too obvious – and too great not to do.
2. A small sampling of headlines from this website from last week:
April 27: “Ward vs. Abraham is in Jeopardy of Being Called Off”
April 29: “Sauerland Postpones Abraham’s Departure Over Officials”
April 30: “Abraham Will Depart For The Ward Fight, Sauerland Talks”
A smooth promotion is a boring promotion. In a month that begins with Manny Pacquiao vs. Shane Mosley, how else to get people talking about the other big bouts than by introducing outside-the-ring drama, in turn calling more attention to the in-the-ring-action. As Eric Bischoff’s memoir so succinctly put it, “Controversy Creates Cash.”
Andre Ward vs. Arthur Abraham on May 14? Abraham’s team complained about having American officials – even as Ward’s promoter said that those complaints were inaccurate.
Jean Pascal vs. Bernard Hopkins on May 21? Pascal, having already signed a contract, demanded that Hopkins get additional testing for performance enhancing drugs. Hopkins, in turn, said that Pascal could die in the ring.
3. It’s understandable that boxers and their teams care so tremendously about every little detail. This is a life-threatening pursuit, and so fighters want to get the most money possible for putting themselves in the ring. They want all the advantages possible and none of the disadvantages that could threaten the possibility of them being victorious, which in turn could diminish future paydays.
But this stuff – the talk from Arthur Abraham’s team about officials, the whispers that Timothy Bradley is holding off on fighting Amir Khan over wanting more money, the news that David Haye is throwing a fit about some minutiae in the promotion of his fight with Wladimir Klitschko – is all part of an overall din of distraction.
Haven’t we had enough of all the bickering over glove brands, glove sizes, ring sizes, hand wraps, blood tests, venue locations, purse splits, choice of officials, rematch clauses and catch weights?
4. Boxers Behaving Badly, part one: British lightweight Kevin Mitchell was arrested in April, accused of “possessing cocaine and running a cannabis farm,” according to The Sun. His mother, Alice O’Connor, was also arrested.
Both are free on bail.
Mitchell, 26, is 31-1 with 23 knockouts, that lone loss coming in his last appearance, a third-round stoppage at the hands of Michael Katsidis.
5. Boxers Behaving Badly, part two: Mitchell isn’t the only boxer facing such charges. South African light heavyweight Jared Lovett was arrested in late April, accused of growing 20,000 rand of marijuana, or more than $3,000 dollars’ worth, on his property, according to Independent Online.
The report says Lovett’s arrest is related to the arrest of three other men found with about $75 worth of the drug. Two of the men are the sons of Hall of Fame boxer Brian Mitchell, according to the article.
Lovett, 24, is 6-1 with six knockouts. His last fight came in June 2009; he’s serving a two-year ban from boxing after testing positive for the steroid stanozolol, according to the report.
6. Boxers Behaving Badly update: Australian heavyweight John Hopoate, apparently working as a bouncer at a nightclub, has pleaded guilty to assaulting a man who had not been allowed inside. Another man died in a brawl that ensued, according to The Daily Telegraph.
Hopoate pleaded guilty to one count of assault occasioning bodily harm and has been fined $1,000 and “given a 12 month good behavior bond,” which is similar to probation. In turn, prosecutors dropped charges of “affray and common assault,” the report said.
The 36-year-old is 12-5 with 11 knockouts, his last fight being a March 2010 disqualification loss.
7. Boxing Trainers Behaving Badly update: Mark Diaz, a trainer based in the San Diego area who used to work with middleweight Danny Perez, was found guilty last week of shooting and killing Hector Gil, another volunteer trainer, in April 2010, according to the San Diego Union Tribune.
The 50-year-old Diaz “also was found guilty of attempted murder, assault with a firearm and making a criminal threat,” the report said. Two other people were wounded in the shooting: a trainer named Peter Moreno, who was shot in the shoulder, and a boxer named Ricardo Gutierrez, who was shot in the leg.
The shooting was thought by prosecutors to be caused by Gutierrez no longer working with Diaz, but instead choosing to be trained by Gil, the newspaper reported.
Diaz will be sentenced on June 3. “He faces a possible prison sentence of more than 96 years to life,” the report said.
8. So, how about the big fight this Saturday? You know the one I’m talking about…
Evander Holyfield vs. Brian Nielsen.
9. Manny Pacquiao’s debut single – a duet of “Sometimes When We Touch” with Dan Hill, the Canadian musician who originally sang it – was out of stock on Amazon.com within 12 hours, according to boxing publicist Fred Sternburg.
This doesn’t surprise me. Back in my days of managing music stores, we once sold out of William Hung…
Sadly, this probably means that, coming soon, there will be a Manny Pacquiao reality show, Manny Pacquiao Airlines and Pacquiao-brand vodka.
Oh, wait, that was Donald Trump…
Okay, fine, how about Manny: The Magazine, a Pacquiao cable network and a Pacquiao book club?
No, no, that’s Oprah.
Pacquiao already has concerts, a CD, a comedy television show, a biography, and even a cologne brand. The natural progression, then, is to Manny Pacquiao clothing lines, Manny Pacquiao cereal (Pac Pops?) and, of course, a theme park – Pac-Man-Land.
10. Gotta give Manny Pacquiao some credit: He’s already put out more albums and sold more CDs than Floyd Mayweather’s “Philthy Rich Records” has done in all these years.
David P. Greisman is a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. His weekly column, “Fighting Words,” appears every Monday on BoxingScene.com.
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