By Ronnie Nathanielsz
After pound-for-pound king Manny Pacquiao dropped Sugar Shane Mosley in the third round with a cracking left hook. the look on Mosley’s face showed he was scared beyond belief and set the tone for the rest of the fight which was hyped as a battle but turned out to be a minor skirmish..
Following the knockdown the 39-year-old Mosley simply refused to engage Pacquiao in any form of combat even as Pacquiao told strength and conditioning coach Alex Ariza behind closed doors “if Mosley wants to go toe to toe and come after me and try to knock me out in the first round, I’ll get him out.”
Besides his constant running which drew boos from the jam packed MGM Grand Garden Arena which was rare for a Pacquiao fight, Mosley was on survival mode and although Pacquiao chased and tried to catch him in the last three rounds, the experience and the ring smarts of the first African-American Pacquiao faced and the Filipino’s own problem of stiffness in his left leg helped save Mosley from being stopped.
To us as well as to many diehard Pacquiao supporters Manny appeared to be slower than in his previous fights where his hand-speed accentuated his explosive power against the much bigger and taller Antonio Margarito and before that against the hard-hitting Miguel Cotto.
The blinding speed was absent and Ariza shared our opinion that Pacquiao who trained relentlessly for eight weeks never missing a day in the gym had probably overtrained for the fight. Normally, Pacquiao trains a maximum of six or seven weeks which celebrated trainer Freddie Roach has always considered good enough for a fighter of Pacquiao’s caliber.
There were times in training where both Ariza and Roach had to try and hold him back but Pacquiao often had his way going an extra two rounds in sparring or on the punch-mitts.
In a post fight conversation Ariza conceded he too felt that Pacquiao was slower because he had “over-trained a little bit.”
One other factor that worked against Pacquiao and helped Mosley was what was first believed to be cramps that slowed down Pacquiao in his pursuit of the former three-time world champion.
Ariza clarified that “it wasn’t cramps. It was a stiffness in his left front calf” which happened even in his first fight with Juan Manuel Marquez.
The strength and conditioning guru attributed the stiffness to “dehydration” which Ariza blamed on Manny’s “not resting” pointing out that Pacquiao “ran on Thursday which was two days before the fight.”
Ariza was angry at the manner in which Mosley “got scared after he tasted the power” of Manny when he dropped him in round three. It was similar to the Joshua Clottey fight when Pacquiao hurt the Ghana fighter with a vicious body shot after which he merely covered up and went into a survival mode shell.
Ariza said Mosley “didn’t like to take any risks or take any chances. He didn’t try to win. That’s the whole f---ing purpose and if you don’t try to win you’re finished.”
Roach himself said “I don’t think he (Mosley) tried to win the fight. I think he just tried to survive and when you get to that point in boxing, I think its time to retire.”
Even at the end of the fight Mosley said he could hardly walk. But to his credit, he survived the greatest fighter of all-time in Manny Pacquiao and walked away protecting his record of never being knocked down and at least $5 million richer.