It's not just Hopkins. Many fighters I talked to shook their heads and scoffed at Mosley's showing against Manny. It's not just super critical fightwriters and sarcastic fans who want to see buckets of blood who looked down on Mosley's (non) effort. (Hogan)
I've held off writing this, for a few reasons.
Mostly, I was still trying to figure out what it was that I saw on Saturday night at the MGM in Las Vegas. But also, the part of me that holds considerable respect for Shane Mosley, and what he has done in the ring, didn't want to be too harsh.
I didn't want to come down too hard of Mosley, who turned in the most disappointing performance of a stellar career. Or, should I saw, stellar to a point.
Because after a few days to mull, I have to say, Mosley did some damage to his legacy on Saturday night. Somewhat appropriate for the locale, which features no shortage of available ladies to engage in untoward behavior for a fee, Mosley basically traded on his reputation and history, and gave it away for a pile of cash. For a fat fee, Mosley allowed himself to be whacked around by Pacquiao, and most shamefully, the “john” in this sordid arrangement, the fans, didn't get any bang for their buck.
I'm not so proud of offering up this analogy, but days later, I'm still feeling a bit dirty for being involved.
Going in, I thought and put it on record that I thought Shane was shot. I thought he'd get beaten down worse than Margarito did against Pacquiao. He showed me little against Mayweather two fights ago, and less against Sergio Mora in his last bout. But I for sure thought he'd give his best effort against the Congressman. I figured, and he'd given me no reason to think otherwise as a future first ballot Hall of Famer, that he'd do his best to win the fight against Pacquiao. I believed him when he said he'd attempt to use his power to touch the Filipino, I believed him when he said, “I’m expecting a very exciting fight on May 7 and a lot of big fireworks.”
Sue me, I believed him.
People can bust my chops if they want, say I'm naive, that I should have known better. But I make no apologies for not assuming everything I hear from a fighter is just hype. Yeah, sorry I haven't transformed into one of the bitter ultra-cynical fightwriters. No, at the very least I presumed Shane Mosley, who I saw as being 3/4 of the way to shot, would try to make an exciting fight. I presumed he would, if not go out on his shield, then do everything in his power to try to win.
From my seat on Saturday, it didn't look like he did that. It looked like he was there to pick up a check, first and foremost, and beyond that, his aim was to not get knocked out.
By the way, this column isn't purely meant to put Shane on blast. You read my fightnight report; I gave Mosley immense props for being so adept defensively. He moved his head and his feet often and swiftly enough to give Pacman some problems finding him. Unfortunately, that defensive wizardry only bolsters my case against Mosley for not giving his all, and basically cheating the fans at the MGM and those who ponied up for the PPV. If Mosley has enough athleticism and strength and stamina to defend as he did for 12 rounds, then he darn sure could have used a helping of those attributes to go on the offense, and throw more than 37 paltry punches a round.
No, he didn't live up to the contract, to the unwritten but well understood code of the fighter. He didn't do everything in his power to win. That's my take on it. And that's Bernard Hopkins' take as well.
I asked Hopkins on a Tuesday conference call put together to hype his May 21 rematch with Jean Pascal if he watched Pacquiao-Mosley, and what he thought of it. He said he was struck by how many times Mosley went to touch gloves with Manny, before and during rounds. “When fighters are touching gloves every round, it's a sign of submission,” said the 46 year old hitter who attempts to be the oldest man to win a title in two weeks. “It's called body language.” If he saw Pascal doing what Mosley did, Hopkins said, he would know he had him mentally, and would then try and finish the job physically. “He submitted early, after the knockdown.”
Top Rank has taken some flak for the fight, but I'm not inclined to rake them over the coals. You'll notice that promoter Bob Arum never oversold the fight, or not beyond the bounds of reason for a salesman, anyway. He said Mosley had a chance, that he was more dangerous early, but he told me before the scrap that Pacman had a decent chance to stop Mosley. I called Top Rank's Carl Moretti to see if really, behind closed doors, Arum wasn't mad at Mosley for not giving his all, for not battling in the mode of a Hall of Famer, instead of a guy going through some motions to pick up a payday. “I don't know if I'd say Arum was “pissed,” Moretti said. “I'd say he was disappointed. “We all thought we'd get a better effort from Mosley.”
Moretti comes off a bit kinder to Mosley than I. He stated that many times guys just don't know what they have left til fight night. “It's a lot easier to try and win when you're not fighting Pacquiao,” he said. He theorized that Mosley was trying to survive, not get knocked out, so he could fight another day. “Because there wouldn't be another payday after that,” he said. Isn't that really cheating the people who bought the fight, I wondered aloud in response. Were people paying to see Mosley save up his best effort for another day, to protect himself so he could secure another check? The “c” word, “cheating” is a rough attack, I know, but Moretti understood where I was coming from.
If Mosley were to wave adios after this fight, to me, his legacy would be stained a bit. For me, for 16,000 at the MGM, for 1.5 million who watched it on pay per view, for the millions and millions who logged on to thesweetscience.com and boxingchannel.tv to read about and view Pacquiao-Mosley coverage, this non-effort will stick in their minds. On May 7, Shane Mosley had an opportunity to strike a blow for himself, for soon to be 40 year olds, and for all people who had been dissed and dismissed as a used up shell of themselves. And he didn't have to win to be seen as a winner. He just had to compete, and give his very best effort. And he didn't do that, and that's on him.
I'm not certain he gets it, either. At the post fight press conference, he didn't seem to. Maybe he did, but the prospect of cashing the check washed away any pricks to his pride or conscience. He said he it was a “great fight;” dismissed the possibility that there were shots available to him that he couldn't pull the trigger on; said he didn't hear the six or so occasions when fans booed the cruddy action in front of them; said he'd vacation and “enjoy the fruits of my labor” for a few months; said losing to Pacquiao is “not I think a big deal because he's the pound for pound king,” and finally blamed blisters for his lack of success.
If he had come clean, admitted that he fought to survive, and not thrive, then that would have spoken volumes. Of course, in the fog of the aftermath, we can understand a lack of clarity. So there's still hope for Mosley. He can come out with a statement, admit that he didn't do what he promised he would do, didn't live up to his resume and his history. I won't hold my breath for it, but it would be a nice gesture. To all the people who bought into the hype, who ponied up their hard earned cash for the PPV, or a lifetime-dream-of-a-trip to see their Filipino idol, Pacquiao, in Vegas, to all the fighters who would've been overjoyed to get the same opportunity, and would have lived up to the fighter's code, it would be a nice gesture.
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