Shane Mosley States His Case for a Manny Pacquiao Bout
Tue 14-Dec-2010 12:27
By Gabriel Montoya
Since the moment it was announced that Manny Pacquiao had taken a shutout win over Antonio Margarito last month, the burning question has been “If it isn’t Mayweather, then who is next?” Pacquiao’s promoter, Top Rank, has already set aside April 16 for Pacquiao to face someone in Las Vegas at the MGM Grand. For a moment, it appeared WBC titleholder Andre Berto was in line for the bout but that notion was quickly dispelled. Then, Golden Boy Promotions ran up the flag for Juan Manuel Marquez, who presented Top Rank with an official offer, which has been met with some derision from members of Pacquiao’s camp. While all this has been going on, Golden Boy Promotions partner and fighter, “Sugar” Shane Mosley, the man who beat Antonio Margarito (when he was on top of the welterweight world but looked pedestrian and past it in two back-to-back matches with first Floyd Mayweather in May, then Sergio Mora in September), quietly made a move to insure that it was he who was linked with Pacquiao.
In a move that surprised everyone, Mosley retained the adviser services of one James Prince, who once managed Floyd Mayweather and who currently works with Andre Ward, in a managerial capacity. The move caused an uproar within Golden Boy, who expressed outrage at the move by Mosley, who claimed he hadn’t had a contract exclusive to Golden Boy in two years.
I spoke with Mosley last week on Thursday’s episode of Leave-it-in-the-ring.com radio show along with my co-host David Duenez. While we were asked by Mosley’s publicist not to get into the recent dropping of Mosley’s lawsuit against Victor Conte, as well as delve too far into Mosley’s dealings with Golden Boy, he did explain his feelings on a Pacquiao fight, among other subjects.
In recent years, Top Rank and Golden Boy have been at odds. It had first begun when Golden Boy had tried to sign Pacquiao after his third fight with Erik Morales. But the “cold war” has extended beyond the settlement in that case, where each side would share of a percentage of Manny revenue, depending on who he was fighting. The cold war would go nuclear when negotiations for a Pacquiao/Mayweather fight fell apart, not once but twice. It was in this climate, and with Golden Boy once again pushing another fighter over Mosley for the shot at one of the top two draws in the sport, that Mosley decided to make his play.
“James Prince is my adviser,” Mosley answered, when asked to explain the hire, as well as the status of the Pacquiao negotiations. “Initially, I brought him in because I knew at the time Golden Boy couldn’t negotiate a fight with Top Rank. [Golden Boy CEO] Richard Schaefer couldn’t negotiate a fight with Top Rank. My attorney Judd Bernstein couldn’t negotiate a fight with Bob Arum. So I had to step outside the box. So I hired James Prince and we went in there to negotiate for the fight with Pacquiao and it looks like it’s going to be successful. I’m excited. I’m happy and I guess I made the right move.”
There are two schools of thought in this. One camp feels Mosley is past it and won’t be competitive with Pacquiao based on the way Mosley performed against Mayweather and Mora. Unsure and with intermittent offense, Mosley looked every bit his 39 years. Mosley feels that the performances were only indicative of the styles he was facing.
“Pacquiao is the type of fighter that loves to fight and I love to rumble as well,” said Mosley. “Mayweather is a defensive fighter. Mora is a defensive fighter as well and moves around the ring. Not to mention he is a lot bigger than me. I didn’t realize how much bigger he is than me until I got to the weigh-in. With Floyd and Mora, both defensive fighters, these guys are hard to hit and I was able to hit [Floyd] a few times and hurt him. That’s a testament to my power.”
Then there is another school of thought that thinks Pacquiao is the right style to bring out whatever offense and greatness Mosley has left.
Guess which school Shane attends.
“Pacquiao is a fighter, so he gives me a lot of opportunities to hit him. So it should be very interesting,” said a confident Mosley. “I am going to train hard and get ready for the fight. I am just excited that I am being considered. It’s pretty much a done deal that I will be fighting Pacquiao.”
Before Pacquiao fought Cotto last year, Mosley was in the running to face the “Pac-Man.” But at the time, Pacquiao had not fought a full-fledged welterweight who was prime and dangerous. He’d fought the ghost of Oscar De La Hoya at 147 and knocked Ricky Hatton into retirement. But a fast welterweight with power as well? Not quite. So Mosley made it known that he wanted the fight. Pacquiao’s team responded with catchweight demands that ultimately went nowhere. Mosley explained why he feels that Team Pacquiao has changed their mind just a few fights later.
“They wanted me to come down to 145 first,” said Mosley of the initial offer from Team Pacquiao. “Then they said 143. I think it was a ploy to get Cotto down to 143. [Cotto] was having trouble making weight. Then I said ‘You know what? I’ll make it easy. We’ll fight at 140 for that title.’ After that, they signed to fight Cotto” he explained with a laugh.
“I think the change in tune is that they now know Pacquiao is a full-fledged 147 pounder,” continued Mosley. “Before, it was questionable. He was fighting 141, 142; he probably could have went down to 135, 137, 138. He was smaller. Now he is a full-fledged 147-pounder, so they think, ‘OK, now he can get in there with Shane.’ Well, now he has been in with Margarito, Cotto and [Clottey], so now they know he can fight these 147 or 150-pounders. They think he can fight competitively and win.”
Besides Berto and Marquez, there really is no name that can bring Pacquiao big-name value while making a fight he can win. A bout with middleweight champ Sergio Martinez is all risk with the only reward being winning a very tough battle for a linear belt. Monetarily, Martinez brings little to the table. So does Berto. However, Marquez does have name value. But to Mosley, that fight is no longer competitive. In his eyes, there really is only one choice for Manny.
“They know it’s a big fight. There are no other names out there besides Floyd Mayweather,” explained Mosley. “He’s not going to fight Berto. Maybe Juan Manuel Marquez but I think those days with [Pacquiao vs.] Marquez are done. I think Golden Boy is just mad that I got it done.”
To Mosley, the Marquez fight is not competitive, not because Marquez has lost so much but because Pacquiao has shown himself able to move up in weight while being competitive with men outweighing him as much as 17 pounds, while Marquez seems to have hit a ceiling at 135 pounds, evidenced by his bout with Floyd Mayweather last year at welterweight.
“Marquez can’t take that weight,” said Mosley. “Manny Pacquiao holds the weight better. Some people hold the weight better than others. When Marquez fought [Floyd], he landed 69 punches in the whole fight. Styles make fights. Marquez had a pretty good outing with Manny when they were 130 pounds. But Pacquiao is no longer 130 pounds. He is 147-154 now.”
There are those who say Manny Pacquiao is a cherry-picker. That he takes only the fights he is certain to win, doing it only with fighters coming off losses or showing their ring wear. Many feel this is how he has pulled off the feat of fighting effectively in eight weight classes. To Mosley, a big reason for the success is that Pacquiao has grown as a fighter.
“I think there are certain things that Freddie Roach has taught him that have given Manny some variety in his fighting style,” said Mosley. “I give Freddie credit for that and Manny for learning. I think he has gotten better.”
At 39 years old, Mosley still has quickness but it’s more of the one-shot variety, as opposed to the combination puncher he was so long ago. He’s never been a big mover of his head, instead relying on his feet to get him in and out of range and trouble. So how do you deal with a guy like Pacquiao, who is a whirling dervish firing from all angles?
“It’s not just the head movement. It’s the positioning. Fighting southpaws is different,” said Mosley. “Sometimes you move your head and look kind of confused the way the punches are coming. You have to know which way to move or you can walk into a shot. Manny is tough fighter. He comes to fight as a warrior. He comes to give 100%. That’s what we love in fighters. I come to give 100%. I think with me and Manny, you have two guys who are explosive and who can knock you out with one punch. It’s definitely going to be a great fight.”
For Mosley, this fight doesn’t just come down to styles but mentalities. While his last two opponents were defensive-minded, Manny is an offensive-minded fighter and that just might play to some of Mosley’s strengths.
“Manny Pacquiao and I are pretty much alike,” Mosley explained. “He may throw more punches than me but we have the same mentality. That’s what is going to make a great fight. He likes to fight. I like to fight. He’ll fight anybody. I’ll fight anybody. It’s the perfect match.”
Mosley also explained that his losses, the ones he counts, were against larger men. Against smaller or equal-sized men, he has always been competitive, with the exception of Mayweather, who is generally the exception for everyone who faces him.
“Some of the boxing fans don’t understand why this is going to be a good fight,” said Mosley, “but this isn’t me against a guy bigger than me, 6’1” moving around the ring. With the exception of Mayweather, I don’t consider the fight with Cotto a loss; I have only lost to guys bigger than me. Mora was bigger than me; Winky Wright fought at 168; all the guys who have beaten and made me look whatever have been bigger than me. Guys that are my size, I usually have a good fight with me.”
Evander Holyfield is approaching 50 with dreams (or delusions) of unifying the heavyweight title one last time and then calling it quits. Mosley is not there yet but the danger of a near-40-year-old fighter hanging on too long are all too real. Manny Pacquiao hasn’t just beaten his last few opponents. He has altered them forever and sent both Hatton and De La Hoya into retirement. Still, Mosley feels that he has enough to win and that he will know when enough is enough.
“Me being of this age, I don’t know if it’s time to stop or not,” said Mosley, who happened to be in Houston and getting some work in at Savannah’s Gym, where Ronnie Shields trains a number of talented fighters. “If I say we can go with it, then we will stop. If things aren’t right or I’m not seeing right or things are blurry for a whole long round and I am not punching like I am supposed to, then there will be a stoppage. But I’ve never been stopped. I’ve been knocked down. I’ve been knocked down pretty good in the second round [versus the late Vernon Forrest in their first fight] but I know how to stick and move. I’m still feeling good. I still am feeling good with anyone who gets in the ring with me. As a matter of fact, I was in the gym with the guy who Margarito last fought recently. I’ll be sparring Lara tomorrow. I spar anyone. And Freddie knows that I work with anyone wherever I go.”
Mosley has done it all in the sport. He’s a multiple world champion who beat Oscar twice (in his prime and near it) and then beat Margarito at an age when no one thought he could. To Mosley, ending on a note like beating Manny Pacquiao would be a huge accomplishment that might top them all.
“To go out and be victorious in that fight would be amazing. It would be just as amazing as the first time I beat Oscar and when I beat Margarito,” Mosley said. “It would be phenomenal. I can’t wait. I am excited to get an opportunity to jump in the ring with Manny Pacquiao and give the world all I got. Because of the doubt people have of me and because of how extremely good Manny Pacquiao has been in all his fights and the way he wins, beating Manny Pacquiao would be one of the biggest feathers in my cap.”
What keeps a fighter going after all these years? Shane has been boxing all his life, going to war in the ring and the gym for three decades now. How and why does he keep going? And why does he love it so much after all these years? Why is this great fighter still a guy who will go in a random gym and get sparring in with anyone?
“I think it’s the competition,” said Mosley. “It’s my competitive nature. I’ve always had that since I was kid. I’ve been boxing now for 30 years and I think it’s just me being competitive and beating the best guy out there. Just challenging myself.”
Beyond the love of combat though, lies another reason.
“I think I do my best when people doubt me,” explained Mosley. “He can’t do this or do that or whatever. I have always been doubted from day one. When I first turned professional, people would say, ‘Oh well, he’s a boxer.’ So I made sure I knocked everyone out. Then when I got the title, I made sure I knocked out all my defenses so people would know I am there. Then they said I couldn’t beat Oscar, so I made sure to beat him. Then they said, ‘Oh, Margarito is going to retire.’ I wasn’t really expecting to knock him out. l was expecting to beat him so bad that people were like, ‘WOW!’ So now, they say, ‘Oh, he can’t beat Pacquiao. Pacquiao is going to throw a lot of punches. He’s going to throw flurries and all that. You know what? Thank you. Thank you. Just thank you.”
Criticism or not, Mosley feels he is the guy who will be named later when it comes time to announce who will Pacquiao face on April 16. One more time for Shane to prove them all wrong and show the doubters he still has it, if only for one more night.
“I might be the Larry Holmes of this era,” Mosley said, comparing himself to the great heavyweight champion who had the misfortune of following Muhammad Ali’s historic run. “Oscar was Ali, if you will. I am always trying to overcome, to say, ‘No. I’m still here. I’m not going nowhere. I am almost 40 years old. I have been fighting for 30 years. And I am still here.”