By Cliff Rold
And now the stars come out.
Manny Pacquiao might not be the most famous athlete in the world right now. He’s not far off. The U.S. is sometimes slow to embrace foreign-born fighters but when they do, the love affair is usually full blown. Roberto Duran and Julio Cesar Chavez experienced it.
Like this though?
While both were certainly as known as Pacquiao at their peak, neither was ever so clearly the ‘straw that stirs the drink.’ Duran worked in the shadow first of Ali and then Leonard. Chavez rose almost to the same level of Evander Holyfield, but never past Tyson. Pacquiao, popular wherever there are fight fans, is boxing’s central figure.
It would be nice if he was engaging in a meaningful fight this weekend. On paper, it doesn’t look like one. Will Shane Mosley introduce that paper to the commode the old fashioned way?
These are the picks of the week.
Pick It: #1 Manny Pacquiao vs. #3 Shane Mosley (Saturday, Showtime PPV, 9:00 PM EST/6:00 PST)
This would once have been a dream match. The 2000 Mosley who defeated Oscar De La Hoya against this Pacquiao (52-3-2, 38 KO) would be the sort of mouth watering action fight boxing can never get enough of. This won’t be that. It does not mean it can’t have surprises. If Mosley can catch Pacquiao with the sort of early bomb he caught Floyd Mayweather with last year, it might be fun. Pacquiao will win. It’s almost certain. What remains to be seen is if there can be any drama to it. If not, Mosley (46-6-1, 39 KO) can be expected to go down trying at the least. The card was better when buffed up by a rematch of last year’s epic Humberto Soto-Urbano Antillon. That fight is gone, and the best thing left is Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. vs. Jorge Arce. The comeback of former Middleweight king Kelly Pavlik ain’t bad either. Who cares; it’s Pacquiao. That’s enough for the buy.
Pick Middle: #4 Daniel Geale vs. #5 Sebastian Sylvester (Saturday, Germany, ?)
Don’t sleep. This might end up the fight of the week. Geale (24-1, 15 KO), a solid from Down Under, has only one narrow loss to former titlist Anthony Mundine and showed growth in blasting out Roman Karmazin last time out. Sylvester (34-3-1, 16 KO) might have the IBF belt at 160 lbs., but he could do no better than a draw with the same former Jr. Middleweight champ Karmazin. A scrappy homegrown beltholder with home turf this weekend, Germany’s Sylvester has a tall order in front of him. The winner might or might not be a threat to the real Middleweight champion, Sergio Martinez, but they should out on a good show that makes it less than relevant for as long as it lasts. That’s what a good fight does. It makes the bigger picture matter less than the picture being painted in the moment.
Pick the Deuce Pre-Show: Diego Magdaleno vs. Gilberto Sanchez Leon (Friday, ESPN2, 10:00 PM EST/7:00 PM PST)
Being serious, this is basically a free preview show for the big fight Saturday. Live, from Vegas, look for all the key players and plenty of weigh-in coverage. The main event, Magdaleno (18-0, 6 KO) versus Sanchez Leon (31-8-2, 11 KO) is probably an afterthought. It might be a nice piece of violence too. It’s worth a look.
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Cliff Rold is a member of the Ring Magazine Ratings Advisory Panel and the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at [email protected]