When former three division champ Shane Mosley 46-7-1 (39) signed to fight WBO welterweight title holder Manny Pacquiao 53-3-2 (38), most observers were pretty confident that based on Mosley's recent history, he probably wouldn't win, but he'd at least push Pacquiao to fight and treat the fans to an exciting bout. Pacquiao represented another huge payday for Mosley and one last chance for him to redeem himself having coming off of two underwhelming showings against Floyd Mayweather and Sergio Mora in his last two bouts.
For Pacquiao, he wanted to beat Mosley more impressively than Mayweather did this time last year and make history by being the first fighter to stop Shane since he turned pro in 1993. So it was easy to see why the ballyhoo for the fight was huge. If nothing else the two warriors would deliver a thrilling fight for as long as it lasted. Only a funny thing happened once the two fighters stepped into the ring. Mosley came to grips with what mostly everyone was saying before the fight, that he was too old and civilized to mess with Manny and if he tried to push the issue on fight night, the reality would more than hurt, it would be embarrassing for the almost 40 year-old Pomona legend. And fighters fear being embarrassed more than they do losing or getting knocked out.
There's only two things that can make a fighter shut down and look to do just enough not to get knocked out or win. The first is the fight is a set up and the fighter who's not really taking any risk to win knows it – or he's afraid of what very well might happen to him physically if he dares to press the issue and fights with all he has to win. This past Saturday night we saw this from Shane Mosley during the course of the 12-rounds the fight went. Shane did all he could to prevent Pacquiao from getting the thing he wanted most, a stoppage win over him to add to his escalating legacy. So basically Mosley got what he wanted – he made a ton of money and wasn't stopped.
I have no doubt that walking to the ring that night Mosley's intent was to derail the Pacquiao express. No way the fight was a set up before the fighters exchanged blows at the bell for round one. However, that changed when Pacquiao asserted himself and had answers for everything Mosley thought he wanted to do. And after Manny dropped Shane for only the second time of his career in the third round,
Mosley accepted that he couldn't win the fight and the only thing he could do was try to keep Pacquiao from stopping him. And on the night of May 7th 2011, losing on his feet looked much better to Mosley than trying to win the fight and maybe getting stopped in the process.
See, those double and triple jabs that Shane threw were code in several ways. For starters, they were just enough to keep Pacquiao from really trying to take liberty with him because one of these times there just might be a big right hand behind one of them. And secondly they said “stay away from me.” At first Manny was slightly fooled by them, but he soon caught on. And once he did it was as if Pacquiao said subconsciously that if you're not really trying to hurt me or win the fight, I won't try and kill you. I'll make a few runs and try to get the stoppage win, but it's not a matter of life and death and I respect your experience and reputation, so I'll be cool.
Again, forget about the official result and decision victory for Pacquiao. Just as he did with Joshua Clottey, Pacquiao showed Mosley enough that the thought of engaging him broke his will and forced him to fight to survive instead of to win. And doing that against even an old Mosley is impressive because of all the class fighters Mosley has fought no fighter ever made him submit in the ring. Not Oscar De La Hoya, Vernon Forrest, Winky Wright, Fernando Vargas, Ricardo Mayorga,
Miguel Cotto, Antonio Margarito or Floyd Mayweather. Sometimes when one fighter can force his opponent to give up before he knocks him out, it's more impressive than actually knocking him out. For Manny Pacquiao to show Shane Mosley enough in three rounds that Mosley basically says to himself, I know you can beat me and you don't have to stop me to prove it, is pretty spectacular.
No, Pacquiao didn't look like Sugar Ray Robinson's equal this past weekend, but he never was. In fact I don't think he's Sugar Ray Leonard or Roberto Duran's equal, but he's still the fighter of the decade based on what took place between 2000-2010. He's an all-time great but I think it's pretty clear he's turned the corner physically and if he really did injure his leg training, maybe that's another sign that he's beginning to decline ever so slightly.
Yes, we were duped and believed Shane would make it a fight. And in hindsight as it was stated here before the fight, Mosley's only shot was to empty his wagon early and try to catch lightning in a bottle and stop Pacquiao. But apparently Mosley and his trainer Naazim Richardson thought that it wasn't worth the risk and that's why they watched a lot of Pacquiao-Marquez II. Shane was never going to win the wait and react game, but it would enable him to navigate his way to
the finish line in second place of a two man race, and it did.
So there you have it. Floyd Mayweather was too technically proficient and cerebral for a 38 year old Mosley – Manny Pacquiao was too physically brilliant for a 39 year old Mosley. In essence Mosley couldn't beat Mayweather and wouldn't try to beat Pacquiao. You be the judge of what's more impressive?
Personally, I'm more impressed with Pacquiao breaking Mosley's will than I am with Mayweather trumping his skill. But that doesn't necessarily translate into a Pacquiao victory over Mayweather. At the end of the day both fighters beat an empty package in Shane Mosley and all that he has remaining, or should I say had, was his name. In actuality, both Victor Ortiz and Andre Berto would be riskier fights for both Pacquiao and Mayweather than Shane Mosley circa 2010-2011.