On the morning Manny Pacquiao was to fight Sugar Shane Mosley, his promoter, Bob Arum, was locked in a meeting with Pacquiao’s likely next opponent, Juan Manuel Marquez. It was a better use of Arum’s time than Mosley would make of his that night.
After Pacquiao sent Mosley to the floor for only the second time in his career with a sharp right jab followed by a stinging left cross in the third round of their WBO welterweight title match, the fight was over. Mosley got up but he was finished fighting. Although the bout would drag on for nine more rounds as the crowd of 16,412 at the MGM Grand Garden Arena booed ever more lustily, for Mosley it had become not a boxing match but a pay-per-view episode of “Survival.’’
“I wasn't going to take those kinds of risks," Mosley incredibly said after the fight. “Manny’s punching power is a little different. You never know what could have happened.
“That was a shot I took and I really felt it. I was pretty hurt. Pretty stunned. It didn’t seem like it was a big shot but the impact was pretty big. Manny has the type power I had to watch out for. He had something a little bit different.’’
What Pacquiao also had was a thinly-veiled disgust for how Mosley approached what has long been called “the hurt business’’ but was turned into the “avoid the hurt business.’’ Pacquiao refused to shake Mosley’s hand initially, a departure from his trademark sportsmanship, but by the post-fight press conference was more sanguine in his responses. Down the dais from him, his trainer was not.
“It’s very unusual for Manny to do that but he doesn’t like to hear the boos,’’ said Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s disgusted trainer, after a decision so unanimous two of the three judges awarded all 12 rounds to Pacquiao. “He denied it but he heard them. Manny’s not really a fighter. He’s an entertainer. He wants the fans to be happy.
“He knew they were booing Mosley, not him, but he was very disappointed in Shane. I don’t think he tried to win. When you get to that point in boxing it’s time to call it a day. He moved backwards from round one. He never took a step forward all night. Even his jab was in mothballs.’’
For all the lamenting of how Mosley broke the social contract that exists between fighters when one man accepts $6 million guaranteed to fight another, the fact of the matter is this is what you get when you insist on matching the best pound-for-pound fighter in the world against old guys, shot guys, guys coming up from lower weight classes, guys forced to diet down from heavier ones or guys who simply don’t belong in the ring with you.
Of late, Pacquiao has fought a string of those – the well-shot Mosley, the unwilling Joshua Clottey, the beaten up Miguel Cotto and the dieted down and drained Antonio Margarito - in exchange for the biggest payday of their careers.
Arum had ripped the very idea of Mosley facing Pacquiao after the former looked pathetic in a draw with Sergio Mora but he was willing to ignore it once Mosley left Golden Boy Promotions and agreed to face Pacquiao under terms that did not include Oscar De La Hoya’s involvement.
After the fight Arum said his first choice for November was Juan Manuel Marquez, who long ago earned the right to a third fight with Pacquiao but wasn’t given it until Pacquiao had grown into a full-fledged welterweight while he continues to be a lightweight willing to masquerade as a welterweight.
Marquez tried that once already against Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and was hammered, nobly willing but as overmatched as he’d ever been. If Arum makes the fight it will be at a catch weight not helpful to Marquez, probably at 144 pounds. That is Pacquaio’s normal weight these days but probably 15 pounds above Marquez’s best weight. So it goes in Manny World.
Also on the list, Arum said, are Timothy Bradley, the unified 140-pound champion, and Zab Judah, who fits right into the over-the-hill-gang mold. Roach was not pleased to hear Judah’s name mentioned and really wants no part of such a fight because he knows damn well what it will become – another four-round fiasco after which Judah will run like a thief in the night.
Yet if Arum follows his history, Bradley, the younger man whose undefeated record and championship status will convince him he might be able to compete with Pacquiao, has little chance of getting in with Pacquiao even though he’d be moving up in weight.
Instead he’ll opt for the better known but more used up challengers like Marquez or, oh Lord, Judah.
“For four rounds he tries,’’ Roach said of Judah, his facial expression saying more than his words about what he thought of such a fight for Pacquiao. “After that he falls apart. I’m not a big fan.
“Bradley is a tough guy. He comes to fight. As for Marquez, there’s a history there and he seems to maybe have Manny’s number. But I think Manny’s improved a lot (since fighting a disputed draw and winning a disputed split decision from Marquez in their first two meetings).
“At the time, Manny only moved in one direction and he only punched with one hand. He’s a better fighter now. I’d like to shut him up because all he talks about his how he got robbed in those fights.’’
Although he has yet to announce his retirement, Mosley is surely finished as a big-money boxer and seems likely to simply fade away. That has become a trend with the type of opponents Arum keeps putting Pacquiao in with. Antonio Margarito is still recovering from an uppercut that severely injured his eye, killing the possibility of a Cotto rematch and making him the fourth of Pacquiao's past five opponents who have either retired (Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton) or not fought since (Clottey and Margarito). Mosley would be the fifth and rightfully so.
Arum insists that’s not because of his hand picked opponents but simply Pacquiao’s superiority.
“Anybody he gets in with he’s going to make look like that,’’ Arum crowed. “He’s the greatest fighter I’ve ever seen.’’
Perhaps he is but his job has been made easier by his choice of opponents, none of whom have come from the young warrior tribe. No Andre Berto, no Victor Ortiz, no Marquez when he was still young enough and the two of them were close enough in weight to compete and you can bet no Bradley either.
Although the Marquez fight is not set because Golden Boy retains his promotional rights for a year and can match any offer Top Rank gives him for his next fight if they choose to, don’t expect Bradley to end up in with Pacquiao. That will fall to Judah, who will then fall to Pacquiao.
Don’t expect Mayweather either but for different reasons. Mayweather is rumored to be lining up a September match with young power punching Victor Ortiz, who just defeated Berto. He continues to avoid Pacquiao, who has agreed to his demands for blood testing for performance enhancing drugs right up to the fight, despite the fact it’s the biggest fight for both of them and the only one truly worth making.
“You have to assume Floyd’s not in play,’’ said Bruce Trampler, Arum’s long-time chief matchmaker. “It’s fruitless to keep asking ‘When are you going to make Mayweather?’ We would make it yesterday but it takes two guys to make a fight and we only have one of them. From what I’ve seen, I’d say he’s past tense.’’
So that leaves Arum and Pacquiao with a dwindling number of choices made smaller by Arum’s insistence on not matching Pacquiao against any Golden Boy fighters.
“I’m not going to put Manny Pacquiao in with a Golden Boy fighter,’’ Arum said flatly last week. “Not because of a competitive thing. Because these people defamed Manny Pacquiao (as a result of Floyd Mayweather, Sr.’s claim Pacquiao was likely using performance enhancing drugs, a charge his son echoed and Golden Boy did nothing to defuse while representing Mayweather in negotiations with Arum for a Pacquiao fight).
“They’re not going to be a co-promoter or a schmo promoter with Manny Pacquiao. Boxing is not the be all and end all for him. We’re playing for bigger stakes here. Manny will hopefully be President of the Philippines one day and he does not need defamatory allegations a (political) opponent could refer to down the road.
“They could say what they want about me. I’m 80. What do I give a s***? But if you say harmful things about Manny it’s different. They said he cheated. They said he took PEDs with no basis at all. They’re the ones who started it. If you’re Manny Pacquiao do you want to be involved with them?’’
No, he wants to be involved with Floyd Mayweather, Jr. but with each passing month the likelihood of that fades more and more and what he’s left with is a choice between guys he shouldn’t be wasting his time with and the public shouldn’t be wasting its money on.
Who wins the WBO Middleweight title fight Dec. 19th?