by David P. Greisman, photo by Chris Cozzone
Thirty-six minutes segmented over 12 rounds is not a guarantee, not when a fight can end in the blink of an eye and the flash of a fist.
The bout between Manny Pacquiao and Shane Mosley was scheduled for 12 rounds, and that is exactly how long it lasted. The fight, however, was essentially over by the third round. The outcome was decided even earlier.
“Everyone has a plan until they’ve been hit.” A variation of that quote has been attributed to Mike Tyson, though it predates him by generations of heavyweight champions, dating back, at the very least, to Joe Louis.
The quote has been axiomatic of Manny Pacquiao’s fights since the days when all Pacquiao had was one hand and one gear, relying on blazing speed and blasting power in a left hand that left few standing. Whether his foes planned for that left hand didn’t matter; he would still pummel them with it. Knowing what had hit them did not lessen the consequences.
Preparing for Pacquiao has required much more strategizing in these past few years, a run that has completed his growth beyond a one-dimensional but overpowering force and into a multifaceted and overwhelming fury.
No amount of planning, though, could prevent David Diaz, Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto from losing before those scheduled 12 rounds could be completed. No strategy could save Joshua Clottey and Antonio Margarito from being dominated and defeated throughout the duration of that 36-minute distance.
Manny Pacquiao would not stop Shane Mosley as he had done to Diaz, De La Hoya, Hatton and Cotto. Nor would he badly batter Mosley as he had Margarito.
As with his decision victory over Clottey, Pacquiao’s ability to deliver punches with speed and power and volume intimidated Mosley. The effect on Mosley wasn’t submission, but rather inaction.
It was Pacquiao pitching a near-shutout – the scorecards read 120-107, 120-108 and 119-108 – in which Mosley struck out looking instead of going down swinging.
“When you take more risks, then you’re susceptible to get knocked out,” Mosley said following the fight. The reputedly sturdy fighter pointed to the obvious turning point, the third round, when Pacquiao sent him to the canvas with a left hand.
“He kind of surprised me with his punching power,” Mosley said. “That’s the most legitimate knockdown I got hit with in a long time. I said, ‘Well this guy must really have some power.’ ”
Mosley’s post-fight conclusion served as confirmation to what had been a surprising pre-fight evaluation.
“I don’t know if I have any advantages,” he’d said earlier that night, hours before he’d step into the ring.
He fought as if he believed that to be true.
Pacquiao and Mosley both came out cautiously, keenly aware of the inherent danger. Each was facing an opponent who was looking to use fast, powerful counters and quick combinations, key shots that could turn control of the action in their favor. Each, then, felt it necessary to feel the early rounds out, intent on preventing the inherent danger from transitioning into impending and inevitable.
Both probed with the jab in the first round, Pacquiao sending out 28, Mosley throwing 26, each landing two apiece, according to CompuBox. Neither wanted to over-commit and open himself up, and so the power punches came rarely – Pacquiao threw nine, landing six, while Mosley threw eight, landing two.
Mosley had said he wasn’t sure whether he had any advantages, but he did believe in his skills. “I know that I’m very fast,” he said in that pre-fight interview. “I have good hand speed. I’m very powerful in my punches. And I’m ready to go.”
He was ready to go until he saw someone who was faster, who had better hand speed, who also had power in his punches and who wasn’t just ready to go, but was also ready to turn up the pace to a level for which Mosley wasn’t ready.
Mosley saw what he had in front of him and knew that caution was necessary. Pacquiao saw what he had in front of him and knew that Mosley’s caution meant he’d close up and go defensive, allowing Pacquiao to open up on offense.
Mosley remained jab-heavy in the second and third rounds, landing 5 of 23 in the second round and 1 of 17 in the third. Before the fight, his team had spoken of how Pacquiao had the perfect style for Mosley, how Pacquiao would come forward and be there to be hit. But Pacquiao’s style is one of motion, darting and ducking in and out and to the side.
Pacquiao had little lateral movement in this Mosley fight, but he was still easily able to move away or under Mosley’s punches or pick the shots off with his gloves. Mosley landed none of the 12 power punches he threw in the second round and four of the dismal six he threw in the third.
Through the first three rounds, Mosley had thrown just 26 power punches, landing six, and he had thrown just 92 total punches (about 30 per round), landing only 14 (less than 5 per round). Pacquiao, meanwhile, felt comfortable committing more, throwing 21 power shots in the second (landing 14) and 31 power shots in the third (also landing 14).
Pacquiao took advantage of Mosley’s defensiveness in that third round. He feinted before throwing a southpaw jab, followed by a straight left hand. Mosley’s timing was thrown off; the left hand caught him as he tried to duck beneath it. The punch caught Mosley on the side of the head and sent him down.
Mosley rose at the count of five, clearly disappointed. He’d seen the punch coming. That fact hadn’t made a difference.
Hockey players can’t score if they don’t put shots on goal. And a boxer’s hand speed and power don’t mean much if he doesn’t throw punches. Mosley rarely opened up from his shell, leading with the occasional hook to the body or right hand upstairs. He rarely threw counters either, not against a Pacquiao who would lead with different punches and from different stances and on different rhythms.
Mosley had gotten in the habit of throwing fewer and fewer combinations over the past several years, instead loading up on power. He couldn’t throw with as much power against Pacquiao, however, not when he saw a need to move or dodge, wary of what could be coming back at him.
From round four through round nine, Mosley threw just 178 punches, an average of about 30 per round, landing just 42, an average of 6 per round. Mosley was throwing just one punch every six seconds, and he was landing only one of every five punches thrown.
Most of those were jabs: Mosley was 28 of 141 with that punch during rounds four through nine, and 14 of 37 with his power shots.
Pacquiao had a hesitant, moving target in front of him, but one that was potentially dangerous still because he had not yet been physically broken down. Instead of five-, six- and seven-punch combinations, Pacquiao’s flurries were shorter bursts divided up by single shots. He was consistent with his strategy and his activity, throwing enough that Mosley expended more energy reacting instead of acting.
From rounds four through nine, Pacquiao was 110 of 359, or about 18 of 60 a round. The jab rarely landed (30 of 190 during those rounds), but it blinded Mosley between Pacquiao’s power punches (80 of 169 in that time).
Even Mosley’s luckiest moment would work against him.
Pacquiao fell to the canvas with about a minute left in the 10th round, going down due to Mosley’s left foot being on top of his right. Referee Kenny Bayless incorrectly called it a knockdown, and Pacquiao worked to make up for the ruling. He attacked Mosley for the remaining 60 seconds, forcing him to retreat and convincing at least two of the judges to award Pacquiao a round in which he’d been “knocked down.”
Not that the result would ever be in question.
Mosley landed 10 total punches in the final three rounds, throwing 60. Pacquiao landed more than Mosley threw, hitting him with 70 of 226. Two of Mosley’s landed punches were power shots. Sixty-three of Pacquiao’s were power punches.
Mosley never landed in double digits on the entire night, averaging just five-and-a-half landed punches a round, including less than four landed jabs per round and less than two landed power shots. He was cautious to a fault, not fighting to survive, but rather surviving instead of fighting.
He was intimidated to the point of being dominated.
The 10 Count
1. If all the touching of gloves between Manny Pacquiao and Shane Mosley reminded you of all the touching of gloves between Mosley and Winky Wright in their first fight in 2004 – well, Pacquiao-Mosley was worse.
Mosley and Wright touched gloves for sportsmanship’s sake and following accidental fouls 32 times. Pacquiao and Mosley did so 44 times.
Put it another way: Pacquiao and Mosley touched gloves once for every jab that Mosley landed. They touched gloves twice for every power punch Mosley landed.
They touched gloves after Pacquiao knocked Mosley down. They touched gloves after Mosley was given credit for knocking Pacquiao down.
To slightly change Manny Pacquiao’s new favorite song to sing: “Sometimes when you touch / It’s honestly too much.”
2. Kelly Pavlik had a story that made it easy for fans to cheer for him.
He was treated as second fiddle in a doubleheader that was to build up to a bout between Jermain Taylor and Edison Miranda. Except Pavlik knocked Miranda out and earned himself a shot at the middleweight championship.
He was reeling around the ring in the second round against Taylor, only to survive and come back and knock Taylor out cold five rounds later.
He was the new king at 160 pounds. But the next few years would do little to build upon what he had earned.
There was the decision win in his rematch against Taylor, a bout contested several pounds over the middleweight limit. There was the drubbing of Gary Lockett, a challenger no one regarded as having a chance. There was the one-sided loss to a 43-year-old Bernard Hopkins in a 170-pound catch-weight bout.
There were the defenses against lower-tier challengers Marco Antonio Rubio and Miguel Espino. And then there were the failed negotiations with Paul Williams.
So when Sergio Martinez dethroned Pavlik last year, it marked a welcome changing of the guard. Pavlik ultimately entered rehab for alcohol issues, coming back this past Saturday after a 13-month layoff.
Yes, he was victorious, defeating Alfonso Lopez by majority decision. Yes, he was rusty. But Pavlik now appears to be in a difficult position – he no longer will be cutting down to the middleweight division, but his fists don’t carry the same pop one weight class up. He has also seemed noticeably slower in the three fights with the additional weight on him.
Pavlik wants Lucian Bute and the other top guys at super middleweight. None of those options seems a good idea for anything other than expediting Pavlik’s exit from the spotlight.
Top Rank, which promotes Pavlik, should keep him even farther away from Bute than it is keeping Juan Manuel Lopez from Yuriorkis Gamboa.
3. Speaking of guys whose times in their prime were short and who quickly declined afterward, there’s Jeff Lacy and the news that mixed martial artist Nick Diaz will apparently be entering the boxing ring against the former super-middleweight beltholder. The fight will happen sometime this year, according to a news release issued last week.
When James Toney’s ventured into the UFC against Randy Couture, his success was contingent less on his own skills and more on what Couture had left. That will also be the case with Diaz vs. Lacy.
While Diaz has shown an aptitude with his hands when in the c age, Lacy doesn’t at all resemble the guy who was either the No. 2 or No. 3 guy at 168 pounds as of 2005.
He’s fallen far from the guy who lost a one-sided bout to Joe Calzaghe in 2006. He’s deteriorated from the guy who lost a decision to Jermain Taylor in 2008. He isn’t even the guy who stayed on his stool after 10 rounds against an old Roy Jones Jr. in 2009.
He’s probably diminished even further from the guy who lost a unanimous decision in December to a 23-19-7 fighter named Dhafir Smith.
But he’s still a guy who boxed in the Olympics and has been a professional pugilist for more than a decade. The question is how little is left – ability, yes, but desire, too – after all of those years.
4. Some leftover thoughts from the Pacquiao-Mosley pay-per-view.
- The world is upside down. The often-criticized Joe Cortez had a solid night refereeing Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. vs. Jorge Arce. Meanwhile, the usually solid Kenny Bayless had a glaring (but, in the grand scheme, unimportant) mistake, ruling that Manny Pacquiao had been knocked down in the 10th round against Shane Mosley when he’d actually gone down due to his and Mosley’s feet tangling.
- Every time I hear Cortez’s voice, I expect him to be talking about the time he did a Triple Lindy off the diving board.
- Judging by Arce’s trunks, either his last name or his middle name or his kid’s name is “Tecate.” Does the beer company pay him three times for each patch on his trunks?
- Something tells me we could see Nonito Donaire face Jorge Arce sometime soon.
- How about a rematch between Kelly Pavlik and Edison Miranda?
- Michael Jackson’s “Bad” was playing at the arena prior to Pacquiao-Mosley. That would’ve been a bad time to transition into Manny Pacquiao singing “Sometimes When We Touch.”
- A third fight between Pacquiao and Juan Manuel Marquez seems like the logical next fight for Pacquiao (so long as a Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight is still out of the realm of possibility).
I don’t see such a bout being anywhere near as competitive as their first two. But if anybody deserves a shot at Pacquiao, it’s Marquez. It’s a shame the lightweight champion has not yet shown himself to be an effective junior welterweight, much less a capable welterweight.
- Oscar De La Hoya vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr. got major mainstream attention and was an aesthetic disappointment. Pacquiao-Mosley got major mainstream attention and proved to be a competitive disappointment. Boxing will nevertheless survive, though this modern era still needs its “F orrest Griffin vs. S tephan B onner” moment if it is ever to grow out of its niche status in the United States.
5. Boxers Behaving Badly, part one: There’s yet another criminal case against Floyd Mayweather Jr., though the incident that led to the charges actually date back to October.
Mayweather, 34, has been charged with misdemeanor harassment after allegedly threatening security guards at his housing development after they wrote up parking citations for some of his vehicles, according to the Associated Press.
After arguing with the guards, Mayweather allegedly threatened them by telling them his “homeboys have guns and I’ll call them over and take care of you guys,” the report said.
There are two other cases currently going on against Mayweather: one misdemeanor battery case in which he is accused of poking the face of a security guard who left parking tickets on one of his vehicles, and one case in which he is facing several felony and misdemeanor charges for an alleged incident involving his ex-girlfriend and their sons.
6. Rap group N.W.A. had their hit song “F*** tha Police.”
If Floyd Mayweather Jr. ever fights again, he’ll walk out to the ring to “F*** tha Security Guards.”
Amusingly, such a song exists, thanks to the mockumentary “Fear of a Black Hat” – think “This is Spinal Tap,” but with a rap group.
7. Boxers Behaving Badly, part two: Top featherweight Yuriorkis Gamboa was arrested last week in Miami and charged with domestic violence, according to NBC Miami.
Gamboa, 29, allegedly tried to physically keep his wife from leaving their home during an argument in which she accused him of cheating on her. He is accused of grabbing her arm and the back of her neck, causing scratches and redness on her in the process, police said.
Gamboa is 20-0 with 16 knockouts. His last appearance was a March technical knockout of Jorge Solis.
8. Boxers Behaving Badly, part three: Erislandy Lara was charged last week with one count of misdemeanor battery, according to the Miami-Dade County (Fla.) Clerk of the Courts website (via BoxingScene message board user Cubanborn87).
Details are sparse, as there don’t seem to be any local media reports on his arrest. But the court website indicates that Lara has been ordered not to have any contact with a Yuderke Lara. Some quick research shows a Yudi Lara as being Erislandy Lara’s wife.
He’s pleaded not guilty.
The 28-year-old junior middleweight is 15-0-1 with 10 knockouts. His last appearance was in March, a majority draw with Carlos Molina.
9. Boxers Behaving Badly, part four: Shea Neary, a retired junior welterweight most known these days for the depiction of his fight with Micky Ward in “The Fighter,” is facing a charge of assault occasioning bodily harm after a bar brawl in the English city of Liverpool, according to the Liverpool Echo.
Neary, 42, ended his career with a decision loss in 2000 to Eamonn Magee. He retired with a record of 23 wins and two losses with 16 victories coming by knockout.
10. Kelly Pavlik off the booze is like Tiger Woods off the broads…
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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