By Vivek Wallace: Over the past four weeks, EastSideBoxing's Official Countdown to Pacquiao/Mosley has taken an in-depth look at this pending mega fight from several different angles. Each week, the curve on these angles have gotten steeper and steeper, ultimately culminating into what will soon be a fight of the ages.
Article posted on 23.04.2011
Past weeks have taken a look at topics such as "why everyone is wrong about Mosley's chances", to "whether or not Pacquiao's is the most legendary figure of all-time". Last week we touched on the how significant the trainers involved will be to the eventual outcome, and this week, we hone in even closer by looking at those key attributes that will ultimately and inevitably predict who the last man standing truly is. Normally, a tale of the tape compares bodily attributes and sizes, but in typical fashion, we'll again go beyond the lines, uncovering elements that could become key:
IN-RING ADJUSTMENTS: (ADVANTAGE - SLIGHT EDGE TO PACQUIAO)
Typically, a grueling fight is won when one of the opponents involved figures out (with or without the help of his corner) the proper adjustments necessary to overcome his opposition. When you look at the two men involved in this fight, the plot thickens because neither is known for extraordinary ring intelligence, (in the sense of changing game-plans) as both solely and simply use a high leveled assault to ultimately stop the opponent with very little technical boxing involved. Over the past few years we've seen a great improvement from Pacquiao, who went from being a one-handed slugger, to becoming a more deliberate and measured fighter.
Despite the improvement in his overall skills, it remains evident that neither Pacquiao or Mosley have a true plan B that they can execute when their bread and butter fails. Some would view this as a knock on them, but the reality here is that these men are fighters, not boxers. They are boxers by trade, but when the bell rings, they fight! They are absolute warriors, and despite the age of Mosley, the fact that these two men are fighters shows us why there's no such thing as a bad time for a good fight. When the bell rings, don't expect either man to try to shift from Plan A to Plan B. They are fighters, and until one can't fight any more, they will fight!
SIZE/ATTRIBUTES: (ADVANTAGE - MOSLEY)
Manny Pacquaio stands 5'6", has a 67 inch reach, is a natural jr. welterweight, and is a crafty southpaw who is very fast, a cumulative puncher, and has a killer instinct. Shane Mosley is 5'9", has a 74 inch reach, is a natural welterweight/jr. mdwt, is fast, extremely powerful, and also bears a killer instinct. When you look at what Manny Pacquiao has been able to accomplish in his career, it's safe to say he has probably gotten more out of far less. He doesn't have the 5'9" frame or extended arm span, but in this case, perhaps big things do come in little packages, as his results have been just as astonishing, or arguably even more so.
Pacquiao has taken that small frame of his and made up for all weaknesses by adding a killer instinct for the ages, and a workrate that doesn't stop. In recent years we've seen Pacquiao hurt, banged up, and even bruised, but we've haven't recently seen his will to win conquered. He has faced men standing 5'6", he has faced men standing 5'11", and in the end, the results were the same. Despite his stellar track record as a little man doing big things, unfortunately, in this case, it's a little deceptive. Deceptive in the sense that him being capable of doing big things as a little man doesn't quite give him the edge against a bigger man with similar attributes.
With Shane Mosley, you have a fighter very similar to Pacquiao in more ways than many would suggest, and to narrow it down, in effect, the only thing that truly separate the two is age. Everything from the ring entrance filled with smiles and waves to the fans, to the famous 'hit-me-and-I'll-hit-you-back' defense, to the 'stalk-until-they-can't-walk' offense; these men are virtually one in the same. Few men have looked better than Pacquiao in critical areas, but this is one I'd have to lean to Mosley on, as he has knocked much bigger men out with power, where Pacquiao's only way to stop the bigger men he faced was accumulation.
Oscar, Margarito, and Cotto each spoke of the fact that with Pacquiao, you can physically take his punches; however, the problem lies in the fact that so many come from so many angles that most don't often realize they were punched until they (in the words of Oscar) "feel a new spot stinging". In the case of Mosley, these same men each spoke of the thunderous punches they felt, and although two of them survived long enough to hear the final bell, they each gave the nod (in power punching) to Mosley. He is bigger, and has done far more damage to much bigger men. Having a killer instinct to go with that power certainly helps. You have to give him the edge here.
FINAL STRETCH/CHAMPIONSHIP ROUNDS: (ADVANTAGE - PACQUIAO)
When you look at the past resume of these two men, both have done some amazing things down the stretch during the championship rounds which remain most critical in a fight of this nature. Not too long ago, Shane Mosley dented the once-thought-to-be iron chin of Margarito late in a fight, and previous to that, Shane also stopped the very durable Ricardo Mayorga with only a few ticks left. Mosley has shown time and time again that power can be equally potent at any point in a fight, and this is what makes him dangerous from the beginning to the end.
In the case of Manny Pacquiao, it often seems that this is the very stage where he excels the most. The deep conditioning of Pacquiao can only be rivaled by one man in the sport (Mayweather), and there's no coincidence why many of his close fight decisions have been solidified late, as Pacquiao is known to completely take over fights in the last few rounds, in some cases, even to the point of looking off to the ref to gauge whether or not he should continue his assault. Both men have shown great ability late in fights, but based on conditioning alone, you have to give Pacquiao the edge in this one.
ONE SHOT, ONE KILL: (ADVANTAGE - MOSLEY)
Trying to narrow down this particular topic can be as challenging as walking up an ice slope! You can't think Pacquiao without thinking of the Hatton fight, where the average fight fan in attendance held on to a bucket of popcorn that lasted longer than the opponent! That punch in particular left many viewing him as today's version of "kid dynamite" (Mike Tyson), but a deeper analysis, as I've often told several fight fans, is that this was a very deceptive moment as well.
Without doubt, Pacquiao is a very dangerous puncher, but remove Hatton from the equation, and you'd be hard-pressed to remember the last fighter that had that stuck-to-the-canvas effect after Pacquiao delivered a punch. As a matter of fact.....you'd have to go all the way back to October 26, 2002, in the Philippines to see something even remotely close. Every other victim on Pacquiao's resume since that point some 9 years ago was practically stopped via TKO, meaning more accumulation that absolute stoppage.
A look down Mosley's resume presents a very similar case, as his last true KO stoppage was back in 2001 against Adrian Stone. The difference here is that when you look at the resume's and compare notes, you'd have to agree that Mosley has arguably faced more durable opposition over this time frame and had equally as good results. Mayweather, Mora, Cotto, Collazo, Estrada, Mayorga, Margarito, Forrest (RIP), Oscar, and Wright comprise a list of men who (with the exception of Mayorga) had never been knocked out at the time. In the case of Pacquiao, Margarito had been viciously stopped by Mosley, Cotto had been stopped viciously by Margarito, Hatton had been stopped cold by Mayweather, and the same with Morales and Barrera after their initial encounters with him.
So, when you really narrow down the question of "which man has the best shot at ending the night with one punch", I think you have to go Mosley, as he has proven durable in the midst of much bigger men, and has been able to hurt them far more effectively. Some will say that Pacqiuao stopped Cotto where Shane couldn't; but you have to remember that Mosley stopped Margarito in 9, wherein Pacquiao couldn't. Advantage in the one-and-done stoppage category clearly goes to Shane Mosley.
CONQUERING ADVERSITY: (NO ADVANTAGE EITHER WAY - TIE)
In the past, we've seen both of these men tested, and how they've dealt with it can be an awfully good gauge on what to expect come fight night, as it relates to who actually wins this fight. Like all these other factors, age finds a way to become part of the equation, and in this case, things are no different. Years ago, I think you'd have to go with Mosley in this category, as even when Forrest and Wright were soundly defeating him, and even after he touched the canvas, he remained a very determined fighter and actually made those fights very interesting in spurts.
In recent times, we've seen Mosley at points when he realized that his power wasn't enough to decide the outcome of a fight and he hasn't always looked great. Against Mayweather, after failing to end the fight with his vicious 2nd round bombs, Mosley appeared flustered and was never the same. Against Mora, he couldn't really land those shots, so he once again appeared defeated, failing to overcome this adversity. In the case of Pacquiao, things are a bit different, and it's hard to narrow down whether it's a good or bad thing.
We have seen Pacquiao hurt, and subsequently weather the storm; but what happens when he actually touches the canvas can be down right scary in this equation. Of all the recent fighters Pacquiao has faced, only Mosley has enough speed and power to catch him with a dose of his own medicine; referring to the unseen, yet powerfully ripping shots that often result in unexpected knockdowns. If Mosley scores this knockdown, what next? In the past, every time Pacquiao has touched the canvas (for the most part) he has failed to stand again until the final bell sounded. This evens the playing field. What it essentially equates to is the fact that while Mosley can be taken off his game when things aren't going his way, he has shown he can fight back after being down as well; wherein Pacquiao can weather storms too, but apparently when he's down, he's out!
END ANALYSIS (EQUAL PLAYING FIELD)
At the end of the day, despite the 7 to 1 odds, on paper the elements that count most make this what appears to be an even fight. Then again.....as NBA Hall of Fame head coach Pat Riley once said: "Paper burns"! It's any man's fight, and the man that seizes the moment will savor the moment, as it will be his moment! We now stand two weeks away from this monstrous event and as the moment grows closer, the stakes grow higher. Tune in next Friday as we sink deeper into a topic that apparently has no limits!
(Vivek Wallace can be reached at [email protected], 954-292-7346, Youtube (VIVEK1251), Twitter (VIVEKWALLACE747), Skype (VITO-BOXING), and Facebook).