The Ship Be Sinking

Mouth Almighty

Mosley Vs. Mayweather Prediction: Who R U Kidding?

I feel like I should be writing something big and epic for this fight, something about how these two great fighters, careers so long running in parallel, have finally come together to produce one of the most anticipated (and lucrative) matchups of the year. And it’s true, they have, and on paper it’s a very good and historically important fight; but, I’m not feeling it. Like at all, and I’m not entirely sure why. Some of it is Mayweather fatigue, as his act (and it is an act, one he does well) has worn completely thin on me to the point where I’ve been actively trying to avoid reading anything about this fight; some of it is Mosley fatigue, as the people picking him to win this one have for the most part been gigantic assholes about it; some of it is that I don’t regard this as an even matchup on paper; some of it is the atrocious undercard featuring Saul Alvarez and a bunch of guys they found at the bus station; some of it is that it’s not Mayweather/Pacquiao; some of it is the sense that this matchup is happening even as much as 11 years overdue from ’99 when Mosley was God at lightweight and Floyd was a dominant 130 pounder; some of it is that, as that timeline indicates, both of these guys are past their best, maybe long past it.

Somehow this fight, while interesting, just doesn’t have the epic feel that it might have. Despite it being a hundred times better a matchup than Pacquiao vs. Clottey, it lacks the something that that fight had. Ultimately, I think it boils down to the star of the show: Floyd is a truly great boxer, a technical superstar, a fighter’s fighter and a genius in gloves; but he lacks, and has always lacked, a mesmerizing physical specialness that a Manny Pacquiao or a Roy Jones or a Mike Tyson brought to the table. With them, rightly or wrongly, there was always the sense that you had better not miss the chance to see them because there was only one of each and if you took a pass you were out of luck permanently. Floyd, while he’s compensated as a draw by developing one of the great heel characters of modern times, is not unique. He is one of the best versions of what he is, but there are many, many versions of what he is out there and always have been, other fighters who just do the orthodox things the right way all the time.The difference between Floyd and, say, Devon Alexander is more one of degree than of kind.

By skipping out on so many major fights over the years Floyd has also deprived himself of the opportunity to seem unique, special, and truly unbeatable, to pile up the sort of record of dominance which would give him an aura to compensate for his lack of physically extraordinary characteristics; instead he just seems really, really, really good. There is no shame at all in just being very, very good and I’ve long thought that head to head Floyd Mayweather would defeat just about any reasonable opponent, but between not being willing to try too often and lacking that physical “it” factor, there’s just something missing from his fights when he doesn’t have a strong personality dynamic as he did with Oscar De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton. It was never a surprise to me that he was a non-draw before the De La Hoya fight, and in the years since he’s learned to be an incredible draw to people who usually don’t care about boxing…at the cost of making himself an increasingly ridiculous figure to actual boxing fans. I’d say it’s a Faustian bargain, but I’m sure if you asked Mayweather he’d say it was worth it a thousand times over, and if I were in his shoes I’d probably agree. None of this is news, and much of it has been said better; but something about the gulf between what this fight could or should be and what it actually is brings this into high relief.

So, prediction time. As is I imagine clear, I favor Floyd in this one- not that it’ll be a blowout, not that it won’t be competitive, but I don’t expect it to be controversial either once you filter out the stupider views. With Mayweather, bar a few basic questions he’s never really been called on to answer in his career, you know what you’re going to get; with Mosley, there’s nothing but questions at this point. The biggest one for Mayweather in the eyes of many is what he really has down deep if he’s pushed to his limits. Personally I worry less about this than some, since on the rare occasions when he’s had to dig down, Floyd has done it: against Castillo, he pulled out two close fights; against Judah, he had some trouble early before roaring back to run away with the fight; against Oscar De La Hoya, in a competitive fight, he took the championship rounds to clinch the victory. Hagler/Hearns this was not, but it’s really the only evidence either way on this question and it all speaks well of Floyd. Beyond that… he’s just about immaculate. His handspeed is tremendous, his power is good enough, and in every skill aspect of the game he’s on the highest possible plane. Even his previous hand issues seem to have gone away with time, apparently due to different wrapping techniques. He can be beaten, but it’s going to take an extraordinary effort from an extraordinary fighter to do it, and I don’t know if Shane Mosley is that man anymore.

Mosley has issues. Right now his stock should be at a near all-time high coming off of his smashing of Antonio Margarito, a fight which won him the more or less legitimate more or less linear more or less title of the welterweight division. And yet, he’s something like a 3-1 or 4-1 dog on the books for this fight- people are seeing past that win, and for good reason. How big a win was it really, given all we know and suspect about how Margarito’s standing in the sport was achieved? How much was Margarito into the fight given that he’d just been exposed right before the bell as a loathsome cheat? What does a 15 month layoff take away from Mosley’s sharpness for this fight? At 38, how much of Mosley’s best does he have left? And it’s worth noting that while Mosley has had an amazing career… he’s not exactly been covering himself in glory in recent years. In the most recent phase of his career (post-Winky Wright) he’s beaten a couple of solid if untested young guys (David Estrada, Jose Luis Cruz) by decision, beat up a shot cripple twice (Fernando Vargas long after ODLH and Tito got done with him), won a solid boxing match against the awkward Luis Collazo which may be his best win of this stretch, lost to Miguel Cotto, and then struggled with an ultra-faded Ricardo Mayorga before the Margarito fight. There’s nothing at all to be ashamed of in this record; it’s a solid and impressive record. But it’s not one that’s all that much better than Floyd’s has been in the same period, and there’s nothing on it which screams out that Shane should be picked against Floyd. Both men are as highly regarded at this point for what they appear to be and what they’ve previously done as for anything they’ve been up to lately.

In the ring, it’s a fight which Mosley could win, but probably won’t. The version of Floyd which showed up to fight De La Hoya probably loses this through inactivity and languishing against the ropes thus providing Mosley with a free target, but that’s not the usual Floyd and if he does fight that way it won’t be because of anything Mosley did. If the usual Floyd shows up, he’s got the jab, the footwork, and the defensive movement from the trunk up to consistently score on Mosley while giving him almost nothing to throw back at especially if Shane degenerates back into Power Boxing one-at-a-time punching. Miguel Cotto won the last two rounds against Shane and clinched a competitive fight by getting up on his toes and moving behind a jab; Floyd can fight the same way, except he’s much, much better at it and Mosley has only gotten older since the Cotto fight. People ask if there’s a blueprint out there to beat Floyd, and maybe there is and maybe there isn’t and maybe Shane is or is not the man to execute one if it exists; but there’s definitely one out there to beat Shane, and I have no doubt that Floyd can execute that one.

People who like Mosley talk about his power, but he’s not exactly a murderous banger at 147- he’s got sharp power, solid power, wear-down power, but the chances of him hitting Floyd consistently enough to make that tell are very small, and he’s not going to KO Floyd on a one-shotter unless it’s the greatest and least-foreseen punch of modern times. People who like Mosley talk about how he can match Floyd’s speed, but A) he’s a 38 year old man who hasn’t fought in 15 months; maybe he can’t and B) speed only matters if you can hit accurately and pull the trigger often enough to make it count, and against Floyd’s defense that’s going to be a monumental challenge for Shane. In exchanges he may equal Floyd for quickness, but if he lands one good shot and takes three where does that get him? For Mosley to win he’s either got to jab in more consistently than he ever has and smother Floyd on the ropes, or he’s got to hope he can draw Floyd out and counterpunch, letting his power tell and investing heavily in left hooks to the body. Either way, that punch is probably Shane’s best hope; Floyd leaves himself as open to it as to anything as he sways and shoulder-rolls, trying to catch a left hook off the elbow and not always succeeding. If Shane can hit that punch accurately, and with power, and he invests in it early and often, then he has a chance to lose the early rounds but wear Floyd down enough that he can out-work him late and take a close decision.

But I wouldn’t bet on it, and I’m not. Mayweather UD12. I just hope this ends up as the fight we want it to be and something like what it could have been in ’99; it’s going to do more business now with casual fans than it would have done then, but I’m a little afraid that it may end up being a bit sad in the ring.


April 30, 2010 - Posted by | Boxing

1 Comment »

  1. “By skipping out on so many major fights over the years Floyd has also deprived himself of the opportunity to seem unique, special, and truly unbeatable, to pile up the sort of record of dominance which would give him an aura to compensate for his lack of physically extraordinary characteristics; instead he just seems really, really, really good.”

    That’s perfectly said. When you watch Manny Pacquiao, even if he’s fighting Clottey, you absolutely feel you have to watch because you’re getting to see another entry on a resume that will see him ranked at minimum as a Top 20 P4P All Timer, and at best on of the Ten Best of All Time.

    You don’t have that feeling with watching a Floyd fight, even if he may be the best boxer of this generation. But being the best boxer on paper, and proving it in the ring, are two entirely different things.

    So I completely understand what you’re saying about not being amped for this fight. I’m just totally pumped b/c I’ve wanted to see this fight for so long. I think it’s going to be beautiful. But there’s definitely the possibility that this sucks.

    Comment by Tony M. | April 30, 2010 | Reply

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