Big Fight

Apr 27, 2010 7:03 AM

Mayweather slight edge over Mosley

The big fight is finally here, maybe not the big fight we all wanted, and with it comes a difficult choice. Oh, Floyd Mayweather Jr. should have little trouble winning, but it is difficult picking against Sugar Shane Mosley (pictured).

This is not a vote for Mayweather because next Saturday’s encounter at the MGM Grand Arena in Las Vegas is not a popularity contest. It is extremely difficult to root for a braggart who calls himself "Money" and tosses samples at people as if they were peasants. Mayweather has cashed in on his persona of course; many will purchase the pay-per-view in the hopes that class defeats crass.

Won’t happen. Nice guys finish second here.

I don’t know either guy except on the athlete-sportswriter level.

Mayweather, though, has had too many brushes with the law to rule out that maybe he’s just another in the family line of troublemakers. But none of this matters at the sportsbooks.

There’s a reason the line has been moving up and up to 5-1 where it looks like this is a mismatch. Let us give the little devil his due.

 

No, he’s not the greatest of all time – if Jose Luis Castillo could crowd him into discomfort, imagine what Julio Cesar Chavez might have done. But he’s one for the ages and it is entirely possible, if they can ever make the deal, he would handle Manny Pacquiao, too.

I don’t buy the nonsense that Mayweather was trying to clean up the game by insisting Pacquiao undergo stringent tests for performance-enhancing drugs. Why wait until your 41st fight to become so caring? Mosley, who does have a stain on his career caused by juice, has agreed to the tests.

What sometimes gets lost in the debates is that Mayweather, and his father and Uncle Roger, have a pretty good record in picking their opponents. When he was 21 with only 17 pro fights’ experience, they selected to go after the junior lightweight title held by the highly capable Genaro Hernandez, Mayweather’s promoter at the time, Bob Arum, had to be talked into taking what seemed to him a highly risky bout. It was all over by the eighth round.

Thus the very choice of Mosley to replace Pacquiao on his dance card suggests the supreme confidence that now is the perfect time to take on his fellow ex-lightweight. Mayweather, at 33, showed no loss of skills when he ended a 16-month "retirement" last year to beat up Juan Manuel Marquez for 12 virtually uncompetitive rounds. Mosley’s last start was a beaut, too, but it was against a lesser foe in Antonio Margarito and took place 15 months ago. He’s now 38 and I suspect the Mayweather camp has spotted signs of slippage.

Five, 10 years ago, when this might have been a hell of a matchup, Mosley might have been too big (and too talented) for Mayweather. In the Margarito fight, though he dominated, I thought I saw signs of slippage, especially in his reflexes.

He is by far the bigger puncher here, though, and so it would not be all that shocking if his still-fast hands can deliver a meaningful punch or two. His big problem in the past has been against tall fighters, where he had to reach up to land and thus could not deliver any of his stunning combinations. Of his four losses, two apiece were to the much taller Vernon Forrest and Winky Wright (the close decision defeat by Miguel Cotto came late in his career).

Mosley is the taller man here – 5-foot-9 to 5-foot-8. But he is 10 years removed from his signature fight, when he came roaring down the stretch to defeat the heavily favored Oscar de la Hoya (yes, I had Mosley – you can’t lose’em all).

But I think Mayweather, the finest defensive fighter perhaps since Pernell Whitaker, deserves his large favoritism here, I can still hear the late Eddie Futch talking about how he hadn’t seen moves like Mayweather’s in generations – and Eddie’s been gone 10 years.

While I will probably be ringside quietly rooting for Mosley, a Mayweather victory would not be a blow to the game. It would only set up a Pacquiao fight even bigger than before.

And one of the reasons I think Pretty Boy, still my preferred nickname, will win here is that I thought he would have beaten the Pac Man to regain his perch as the best in the game.