Pacman in fighting stance
Manny Pacquiao will fight and beat Shane Mosley on the 7th of May 2011.
Mosley is old. He has slowed down and the whole world knows it. The absolute animal that pounded Antonio Margarito in 2008 was not a phoenix reborn, but a dying Lion issuing forth one last mighty roar. Sugar Shane Mosley has long since left the building. The man that out-pointed the Golden Boy and destroyed Ferocious Fernando Vargas twice was not the same man that recently drew with Sergio Mora in a 12-rounder to test the resolve of even the most unfortunate insomniac.
He’s done. Finished. Kaput. Spent. We all know it. Manny Pacquiao definitely knows it. So why are they intending to fight on May 7th? Why would the pound-for-pound king participate in such a sham? Read on for a run down on the other contenders that establishes why, unfortunately, Sugar Shane is the only real fight open to Manny at this point in his career.
*For the purposes of this article I do not intend to consider ticket sales potential or promotional company rivalries as relevant disqualifying criteria as, in a perfect world where boxing aficionados actually cared what fans wanted, they would not be.
The up and coming Andre Berto
Who has he beat? Who? Name one respectably good fighter he has knocked out…nobody? Nobody.
How could he possibly warrant getting a shot at a Pacman when he hasn't even fought a Zab Judah? Answer: He can’t.
He may well be a good opponent for Pacquiao in the future, but until he shows he is capable of beating genuinely good fighters, he can’t get the shot. At least Mosley has beaten class guys in the past.
Light Welterweight champion Amir Khan
Better, but still no dice. Khan has the speed and skill to give Pacquiao problems and has beaten top class opposition—most notably in his latest fight against Marcos Maidana—but he still drops his hands far too often.
Marcos Maidana hit Khan too much. Simple as that. Whereas Maidana only hurt him badly, Pacman would have KO’d him. Maybe some day, Khan will have a legitimate shot at beating Manny, but he needs to wait until he is ready because he still needs work. Not getting this fight now may be the best thing for him.
Also, on a side note, If Freddy Roach trains both fighters…surely the one Freddy sticks with (AKA Manny) for a potential fight between the two would have a massive advantage in that his trainer would already know the opponents style and weaknesses intimately? Because of this, this fight may never be possible. Khan could be waiting and hoping for a shot at contender No. 3.
Pretty Boy Floyd
Here he is. The proverbial elephant in the room. The fight we all want but may never see.
Floyd is in trouble. Big scary trouble of the multiple felony, years imprisonment variety. He is not a candidate for this fight as, come May 7th, he may be trying to avoid fights in a prison exercise ground somewhere.
While it is vital justice prevails and boxing must of course take a back seat to the interests of society, as far as boxing is concerned, we could be facing one of the sports greatest tragedies as, at this point, I can only imagine this as being this generations "fight that got away."
If he was not dealing with these problems he would be candidate numero uno. As it is, without even considering the depth of hatred between Top Rank and Golden Boy Promotions and the problems that poses, this fight is just not possible.
Miguel Cotto before his bout with Yuri Foreman
Miguel Cotto is a very good fighter who has acquitted himself admirably in all his fights, most notably in his previous bout against Pacquiao by lasting as long as he did while receiving extraordinarily brutal punishment.
However this fight, even at a higher weight category, would be pointless. Manny is faster than him, more than powerful enough to hurt him, is capable of taking big shots from him, has better endurance than him, and is, quite simply, far more talented than him. There is a gulf in class here that no size differential could make up.
End of story.
Fighter of the year 2010, Sergio Martinez
Too big. Too strong. Too good.
Pacquiao has beaten bigger men before by exposing a gulf in class that more than compensated for his deficiencies in size.Case and point Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito.
Sergio Martinez, is, however, a fish of a different colour. He is an elite natural Middleweight. Pacquiao is an elite welterweight with a natural lightweight body. Margarito was bigger than him going into their fight and, even though Manny destroyed ’Tony, he came out of the fight with injuries the likes of which we have rarely seen on him before. The sheer gap in size hurt Manny even in a fight where he was the infinitely better fighter. No matter whether he went up or Martinez came down, there would be a similarly huge size differential.
However there would not be a similarly huge talent gap. Martinez is a fast, strong, clever and technically an extremely gifted fighter. He is in a different league than Cotto and a different plane of existence than Margarito. Pacquiao is probably slightly better but only slightly and certainly not enough to compensate for his size disadvantage.
There is no way Manny could be expected to win this fight and taking it would be taking a big risk with his health and safety. As Freddy Roach has said, there is a point at which Manny is going to simply have to stop climbing the weight divisions. This is it.
World light-welterweight champion Timothy Bradley
Classy fighter who would test Manny and qualifies as a genuine proper legit opponent. Also, he is African American. There has been arguments made that Manny cannot deal with the slick style of black American fighters. This would settle the debate.
The problem here is that Bradley is scheduled to fight Devon Alexander in January. What if he loses? What if he gets hurt? Aside from the fact that he wont sell tickets—which is no real problem as Manny will sell the fight out by himself—there is just too much uncertainty here to sign him for this fight. But if he wins against Alexander, look for him to be Manny’s November opponent and for him to (hopefully!) give Manny a very good contest.
Juan Manuel 'Dinamita' Marquez
I wish. I wish. I wish. I wish. Oh, how I wish. I won't even try and hide the fact that Marquez is my all-time favourite fighter, and part of me would kill to see him fight Pacman again. But it's not gonna happen and that is probably a good thing. Marquez gave Manny all he could handle and more in their two previous confrontations.
The first fight—ruled a draw—was, in my view, narrowly won by Manny, but I had Marquez winning the second fight despite the fact that Manny was awarded it via SD. These guys have history and are capable of bringing the best out of each other. Marquez is a class act, an absolute scientist in the ring and one of the finest fighters of this or any generation. He is also a lightweight. When he came up in weight for the Mayweather fight, he looked doughy, slow and overburdened. He had none of his speed or usual flair. Many thought age had finally caught him, but his recent fireworks against Michael Katsidis demonstrated there is plenty of life yet left in the old dog.
Age was not his problem in the Mayweather fight, body type was. And would be again in a third Pacquiao fight. Manny is now a welterweight and refuses to drop. Juan is a lightweight who loses a lot of his physical ability when he goes up. There is no way this could now be competitive as it twice was, and in a way, I am glad Marquez didn’t get the fight because it would be sad and wrong to see such a legend get badly beaten at a weight he should not be fighting at. It seems that, as far as a third Pacquiao vs. Marquez fight is concerned, all that is left is wishes and dreams. And that’s the way I hope, for the sake of the reputation of their first two fights and the name of a Mexican legend, it stays.
The once magnificent Sugar Shane Mosley
So there you are. A rundown of all his legitimate options. Aside from the fighters with scheduling limitations (the Alexander battle for Bradley and the…eh…court battle for Mayweather), none of the other proposed candidates fit the bill.
They are all as unsuitable as the next either by being too small, too big, too inexperienced or by just being not good enough. Mosley on the other hand has a recognizable name and several big wins to the credit of his illustrious career. He is a good size match—actually bigger than Pacquiao—and has in his past shown the type of skill and speed that would give Manny fits.
On paper he is as good a contender as Manny is likely to face. I just simply cannot for a second believe his assertions that he still has the ability to fight at the level required to beat any half-decent fighter, let alone the best on the planet. But, given the rest of his options, does Pacquiao really have much choice?