By Keith Idec
NEW YORK — Their three-city, cross-country promotional tour is over.
Now that they’ve met with everyone from President Barack Obama to the New York Knicks, Manny Pacquiao and Shane Mosley have headed their separate ways. Mosley will soon begin training camp in Big Bear Lake, Calif., an ocean away from where Pacquiao will start preparing for their May 7 welterweight title fight in Las Vegas.
The consensus is Mosley will simply spend two months delaying the inevitable — a lopsided loss to a heavily favored fighter who hasn’t been beaten in nearly six years.
Mosley understands the cynicism. He’ll turn 40 in September and hasn’t looked all that formidable in either of his last two fights, a unanimous decision defeat to Floyd Mayweather Jr. on May 1 in Las Vegas and a draw with underdog Sergio Mora on Sept. 17 in Los Angeles.
His draw with Mora (22-2-2, 6 KOs) looked even worse once the season one winner of “The Contender” lost a 10-round split decision to Bryan Vera (18-5, 11 KOs) on Feb. 4 in Fort Worth, Texas. Mosley’s performances in those fights led oddsmakers to install Pacquiao as a 7-1 favorite approaching their 12-round fight for Pacquiao’s WBO 147-pound title.
“I [couldn’t] care less,” Mosley said regarding the odds. “As long as my hand is raised, I’m OK with it. I just figure somebody’s going to get rich.”
Only Pacquiao (52-3-2, 38 KOs) stands to make more than Mosley’s $6 million guarantee for the fight, but Mosley maintains that facing the Filipino superstar is about much more than another seven-figure payday in the wake of a costly divorce from his ex-wife, Jin. While he appreciates Pacquiao’s accomplishments and respects boxing’s most transcendent star both in and out of the ring, Mosley is certain this is a fight he can win.
“I feel good,” Mosley said. “I feel young. I feel happy with my life right now. I have to be ready to throw a lot of punches. I have to throw more punches than [Antonio] Margarito [threw against Pacquiao]. I know how he punches and where he throws them.”
It’s what Mosley does while Pacquiao punches that is critical to his success.
“There’s opportunities there [to hit Pacquiao],” said Mosley, who’s 46-6-1, including 39 knockouts and one no-contest. “If you find them, you’ll be all right. … My style of fighting is going to give Manny problems. I’m not going to move into his shots.”
Though not as fast as he once was, what’s left of Mosley’s speed could prevent Pacquiao from finding his comfort zone as quickly as he did against guys like Margarito, Joshua Clottey, Ricky Hatton and Oscar De La Hoya, all of whom showed much slower hand and foot speed than Pacquiao. His comparable speed is among the reasons Mosley is convinced that he can knock out Pacquiao.
“I think this fight will end in a knockout,” Mosley said. “I think it’ll be hard for it to go the distance.”
That’ll be a tough chore, of course, since Pacquiao’s two knockout losses came more than a decade ago, when he was a flyweight. Thailand’s Medgoen Singsurat, aka “3-K Battery,” was the last fighter to knock out Pacquiao, who was stopped in the third round of their WBC flyweight title fight Sept. 17, 1999, in Nakhon Si Thammarat, Thailand.
Then again, no one had really come close to knocking out Mayweather before Mosley’s right hand early in the second round of their fight left Mayweather in more trouble than he has ever faced in a professional fight.
“I’m pretty sure [Pacquiao] will be a lot easier to find than Mayweather was,” Mosley said. “I’m not saying it’ll be an easier fight, but he’ll be easier to find.”
If he is able to hurt Pacquiao, Mosley learned against Mayweather what not to do.
“The first [mistake] was, after I caught him I figured I’d catch him [again] in the third or fourth round,” Mosley said. “After I hurt him, I didn’t fight the fight I was supposed to fight.”
Mayweather deserves most of the praise, of course, for not allowing Mosley to do what he wanted over the final 10-plus rounds of a fight Mayweather won easily. Mosley readily admits that.
“It wasn’t a good performance for me,” Mosley said. “Floyd was the better man that night. I give him his credit.”
Thought most of the action was one-sided, Mosley never looked like he was in danger of getting knocked out by Mayweather (41-0, 25 KOs). That hasn’t stopped Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s trainer, from predicting Pacquiao will win by knockout.
The respected Roach’s prediction raised many eyebrows because Mosley has not been knocked out in 54 professional fights.
In fact, the three-division champion has shown one of the most reliable chins in boxing during his illustrious career, some of which was spent facing naturally bigger guys at 154 pounds. He hasn’t been down in nine years, either.
The late Vernon Forrest dropped Mosley twice during the second round of their first fight, when the then-unbeaten Mosley was widely considered one of the two top pound-for-pound boxers in the world, along with Roy Jones Jr. Those two knockdowns were preceded by a clash of heads Mosley long claimed was the reason Forrest was able to later hurt him against the ropes.
Regardless, Mosley got up both times and survived severe trouble to make it to the third round. He still lost a 12-round unanimous decision on Jan. 26, 2002, in The Theater at Madison Square Garden.
That was the first of Mosley’s six 12-round decision defeats over an eight-year period, two of which came against southpaw Ronald “Winky” Wright in 2004.
He has boxed just one southpaw since Wright beat him by majority decision in their November 2004 rematch. But no one will ever confuse Luis Collazo, whom Mosley defeated for the WBC interim welterweight title in February 2007, for Pacquiao.
“He’s considered to be one of the best fighters in history,” Mosley said. “For me to take him out at this point in my career would be remarkable.”
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, NJ., and BoxingScene.com.