Mike Ochosa on Pacquiao Mosley-prefight

When Shane Mosley was tapped to be the next opponent of Manny Pacquiao, the boxing world reacted with mixed emotions. Mostly, people thought that it was too late in Mosley’s career to square up with the world’s best. The concern focused on how dangerous this would be for Mosley having to face a warrior like Pacquiao.

Several weeks after the announcement however, one gets a feeling that though the fight might not be too exciting to look forward to, it is still a very interesting match-up. Mosley like Pacquiao is a future hall of famer and his exploits on the ring also reverberate as part of his own legend.

Below are some questions that might have surfaced during discussions in the office, barber shops, gym locker rooms and at dinner time. The outcome of the fight to many might already be obvious, but the discussions amongst fight fans prove to be more animated.

IS MOSLEY FAST ENOUGH?

Many believe that to beat Pacquiao, one must be able to match his speed. The Pacman’s last couple of wins was against bigger fighters who were visibly slower than him. Clearly, his key to winning in the higher weight categories is brought about by the speed that he has successfully preserved as he moved up in weight.

On the other hand, Mosley is considered one of the swiftest fighters in his weight category. He is considered to be one of the fastest in the lightweight to welterweight divisions.

However, arguably, Mosley is not as fast and agile as the Filipino. Yet, compared to all of Manny’s opponent since De La Hoya, Mosley is the fastest. More so, he knows how to leverage on his speed. He has showcased his speed in his ability to defend against fighters who continuously move like Winky Wright and Luis Collazo.

His hand speed is the reason he was able to set up Margarito and Mayorga, much bigger men than him, for a knock down. Mosley has fought a lot of boxers bigger than him and had in many occasions gained advantages because of his speed.

Being the smaller man most of the time, he must have the key to know how to fight a smaller opponent now that the shoe is on the other foot. He is not expected to be as fast as the Filipino, but his experience should provide him extra advantage and allow him to surprise Pacquiao from time to time.

CAN MOSLEY STILL IMPLEMENT, EXECUTE HIS FIGHT PLAN?

At age 39 Mosley’s career is described to be going downhill. His last two fights were to some experts a clear indication of this. He was not able to do anything significant versus Mayweather and he was consistently frustrated against the younger Segio Mora. Mosley

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lost both these bouts on points and some say this as a clear sign that the legs are slowly disappearing from under him.

It should be argued however that these two boxers fought Mosley with a strategy anchored on defense. Clearly wary of Sugar’s power, both did not have any intentions of mixing it up versus Mosley. Matchmakers would say on hindsight that these fights were interesting on paper, but the styles did not make for an exciting outcome.

If ever, both May weather and Mora unveiled how to easily beat Mosley– Stay away and don’t mix it up.

On the other hand, Mosley is one of the most thrilling fighters ever because he always comes to fight. He likes to mix it up and has been in gripping ring dramas when his opponents stand up to him toe to toe. Pacquiao is one such warrior. Pacquiao’s style will allow Mosley to do what he does best. Mosley will be forced to be in his best shape if he wants to give a good account of himself in this fight.

The talk of Mosley being a has-been first surfaced during the Margarito fight. Mosley disproved everyone by demolishing the Tijuana Tornado. Margarito was initially rocked by a left straight thrown by Mosley while momentarily assuming a southpaw position and finished the bigger fighter soon after.

To say that his age clearly makes him a has been may be a dangerous assumption for the Pacquiao camp. He is one of the few boxers who keep himself in shape in between fights. His physical conditioning is superb and he definitely prepares for the fight.

This is not to say that the age gap is not a factor, but it is a variable that Team Mosley can work around and may be addressed through strategy and training in camp.

IS MOSLEY JUST FIGHTING FOR THE MONEY AND IS IN EFFECT READY TO LOSE?

Let me offer first my personal opinion. Even under duress, a true athlete/warrior’s heart will never go into battle thinking of losing. The odds may not be in your favor but mentally, losing is not an option. A combatant of Mosley’s caliber believes deep down that he will win and is training hard so he actually can.

Prize fighting is about fighting for the money. Accepting a paycheck to step into the ring is essentially what these two pugilists are doing. It should not be deemed as a negative for any boxer. Moreover, every boxer on earth (except of course Mayweather) would want a piece of the pound for pound king. Clearly it represents a huge payday and certainly this is Mosley’s biggest to date. To say however that that is all he wants is an insult to this future hall of famer.

If at all Mosley is coming in as an underdog and in the past fights he has been tagged as such, he has emerged victorious. Remember, he has beaten de la Hoya, Mayorga and Margarito all of whom were superior to him either in skill, power and size.

IS PACQUIAO ACCEPTING THIS FIGHT KNOWING THAT THE ADVANTAGE IN AGE AND SPEED CLEARLY BELONGS TO HIM?

Right after the Hatton affair, this question has been regularly raised. Pacquiao’s speed and power has risen to legendary status that any fighter thrown his way was never really seen as worthy. Such assumption presupposes that the southpaw congressman is undefeatable and indestructible.

A true boxer goes to the fight knowing that the fight can only go 2 ways- his way or his opponent’s way. We, the fans, are lucky that the 8 time world champ always take this point of view and has never shown of being too full of himself. He has prepared for every fight and never leaves anything to chance. His belief system guides him to realize that amidst all the accolades, successes and titles, the other fighter will still have as much chance of winning as him.

Realize that Pacquiao walked into the Margarito fight as the favorite. Despite Margarito’s size, Pacquiao was heavily favored to win. Manny won the fight but not without getting a beating himself.

In an interview two hours after the fight, Pacquiao declined to shake this author’s hands apologizing that his fists just were too sore. His body was arched throughout the interview, his arms were crossed and his reply was slow and deliberate. He went through the interview without his usual smile and candor. Clearly, Margarito’s punches also hurt Pacquiao.

As it is with Mosley, it too would be unfair to say that the champion thinks that this is a sure win and that the money is his only motivation.

WHAT THEN ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF MOSLEY?

On paper, Mosley can clearly leverage on his three (3) inch height advantage and seven (7) inch reach advantage. Although he brings in the same set of advantages all of the other bigger opponents of Pacquiao brought to the ring, Mosley, as it has been said, is the fastest man Pacquiao will be facing to date.

Although not an outstanding jabber, Mosley can leverage on these advantages by turning on the jab. That is one punch that no one has been able to maximize so far against Pacquiao. Furthermore, maintaining a safe distance is an option for Mosley and will do him well for two reasons. One is that it should keep Pacquiao far enough to prevent him from being hit, and second is that Mosley has always been more comfortable fighting from a distance.

Mosley is also a strategist and has always come into a fight having a visible fight plan. It would be wise to review the previous matches of Pacquiao and choose several combinations that have allowed his opponents to tag him. One very clear punch that Pacquiao has difficulty defending against is the uppercut.

Clottey during the few times that he actually threw punches, tagged Pacquiao with several uppercuts that clearly connected. Still the openings of Manny come only in a split second during his lunging attacks but if Mosley can time his uppercuts it may change the tempo of the bout.

Mosley is in himself a powerful puncher. Given his size advantage on Pacquiao provides him with every opportunity to win with one punch. Mayweather almost paid the price for dropping his hands several times in the 2nd round of their fight. Mosley has finished off several boxers in the lightweight to the welterweight ranks with just one punch.

DOES PACQUIAO THEN ALSO HAVE THE PUNCH TO FLOOR MOSLEY?

The facts will show you that although clearly Manny has beaten all of the bigger men thrown his way, the last time he floored any of them with one punch was Ricky Hatton. Without taking anything from the Filipino, the power in that punch was heightened because Hatton not only walked into the punch but charged into it.

Another punch worth looking at is the right hook that brought Cotto the canvas. Arguably, this proves that he can knock bigger opponents down but not knock them out. In boxing speak, that knock down was a “flash knock down” whereby Cotto stood up immediately and was visibly shaken but not hurt.

This does not however dispute the fact that Manny’s punches are powerful, he just needed to string up 6 to 7 punch combinations to wear down his bigger adversaries and force them to submission. It is therefore his speed that truly gives him all he needs to come out a winner in welterland.

Interestingly enough however, only those that have decided to mix it up with Pacquiao ended up battered. When Cotto tried to mix it up in the beginning rounds he was softened up with bunched up punches. Margarito kept on looking for that one big shot but ran into 5 more hits from Pacquiao . Clottey did not come to fight that day and finished the fight beaten but unscathed.

Having said that, there is always a possibility that Mosley can go down with one punch but chances are Manny will need to work double hard to find that one moment.

WILL THIS BE AN EXCITING FIGHT TO WATCH?

Admittedly, the first 6 rounds will be where the action will be. The excitement is expected to happen in the first half of the fight.

Mosley’s style and advantages point to him needing to put the fighting congressman away early on. The age difference will reveal itself in stamina and if the fight will go the distance, the advantage will clearly be to Pacquiao.

But, both fighters’ style is about engagement and mixing it up. With that alone, this bout is shaping up to be something to watch out for. Both are not great jabbers so expect a lot of dominant hand leads starting the flurry for both fighters. Pacquiao will lead with his left hand, while Sugar will attack with his right hand.

Their respective hooks will also be pivotal in this fight. Early on, Sugar will try to tag Manny with left hooks to the body and Manny will retaliate with his Manila Ice right hook. Both of these fighters’ hooks are strategic to beating the other.

PREDICTION

How this fight will pan out and end is dependent on Mosley’s strategy.

If Mosley decides to engage early on and leverage on his size and power, this should be a short fight. A knock down will be inevitable. Many though will not agree, but if Sugar launches a relentless attack on Manny, the fight can go either way.

If Mosley decides to pace himself, stay away and box Pacquiao, this will be a very long night. Manny will surely pursue Mosley and chances are it will end similar to the Margarito fight- a one sided decision, having Pacquiao as the winner.

Nevertheless, compared to the last three fights of Manny, this Mosley encounter may be just as good atop the ring as it has been described on paper.

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