10 questions going into Mayweather-Mosley fight
Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Shane Mosley gave us a (orchestrated?) glimpse at a recent news conference of what we might see on May 1 in Las Vegas. Photo / Ed Mulholland-FightWireImages.com
The fight between Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Shane Mosley at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, the biggest event of the year, is three weeks away.
The arguments started even before the fight was finalized and are increasing in intensity as the fight approaches. Indeed, everyone — the fans, the experts — seems to have an opinion about what will happen in the ring.
To kick off our Mayweather-Mosley coverage, here’s a list of 10 questions to ponder going into the fight.
1. Are we reading too much into Mosley’s knockout victory over Antonio Margarito?
Could be. Margarito was tailor made for Mosley that night in Los Angeles, a plodding fighter who hadn’t looked good during training and had to contend with the hand-wrap scandal minutes before he stepped into the ring. In other words, Mosley faced a slow fighter who came directly at him and might’ve been distracted. This isn’t meant to diminish Mosley’s performance, which was magnificent. This IS to say that styles do indeed make fights and that was the perfect style matchup for an aging Mosley. Mayweather is light years faster than Margarito, won’t come to Mosley and most likely will be focused. Those picking Mosley might say to themselves afterward: “We should’ve seen that coming.”
2. Is our perception of Mayweather skewed by his perfect record?
Yes. We have a difficult time imagining a fighter losing until we actually see it happen. We’ve only seen Mayweather win; that’s all we know. We consider his natural gifts, his work ethic and his amazing defensive skills and wonder whether he’ll EVER lose. Well, only one big-name fighter has retired with a perfect record, Rocky Marciano. They all lose at some point unless they retire prematurely, as Marciano did. Mosley was unbeaten and on top of many pound-for-pound lists a few months shy of his 30th birthday. Then he faced Vernon Forrest and another “invincible” fighter went down. Mayweather is tremendously talented but no one is unbeatable.
3. Has Mayweather faced anyone as good as Mosley?
No. The best fighter at the time Mayweather fought him probably was Oscar De La Hoya, although he had already begun his decline. Mosley twice beat a prime De La Hoya (once on steroids). Diego Corrales and Jose Luis Castillo, the latter of whom gave Mayweather hell in 2002, were very good but not quite in Mosley’s class. Same goes for Zab Judah. And no one will contend that a fattened up, middle-aged Juan Manuel Marquez was a formidable opponent in Mayweather’s most-recent fight. Am I missing someone? I don’t think so. Mosley, even at 38, will be the best fighter Mayweather has ever faced. That’s one reason this matchup is so compelling.
4. Has Mosley faced anyone as good as Mayweather?
That’s difficult to answer. One could argue that a prime De La Hoya, whom Mosley beat twice, was as good as Mayweather is now. The fact a fading De La Hoya almost beat Mayweather seems to support that contention. And Forrest, Wright, Cotto and Margarito were all very highly regarded when Mosley fought them. The point here is that Mosley has faced opponents on the same general level as Mayweather even if you think Mayweather is somewhat better than the rest. That experience — having fought the best in the business so many times over a long career — is invaluable in a fight of this magnitude.
5. How significant is the addition of Naazim Richardson as Mosley’s trainer?
Very. Jack Mosley, Shane’s father and former trainer, downplays the impact Richardson has had on his son’s career perhaps out of ego. The elder Mosley says he taught his son everything he knows about boxing. However, Richardson has brought a great deal to the Mosley camp. First, his knowledge of boxing and ability to communicate it is exceptional. He came up with the strategy that led to Margarito’s brutal demise. And, perhaps just as important, he has invigorated Mosley with his skills as a trainer and passion for the sport. Nothing against Jack Mosley, who is a good trainer, but switching to Richardson was an excellent move for Mosley.
6. What are we to make of Mosley’s five losses?
We shouldn’t make too much of them. Two-time Mosley conqueror Vernon Forrest was a Hall of Fame-caliber fighter with a long reach, good power and well-honed skills who had Mosley’s number since the amateurs. Many fighters have a nemesis they can’t conquer. Winky Wright, who beat Mosley twice, also has Hall of Fame-level ability and was too big for Mosley. Miguel Cotto? Mosley lost to a very good, undefeated (30-0), in-his-prime fighter who he probably underestimated to some degree. That’s just a hunch. The point is that we shouldn’t dismiss Mosley because he has lost and Mayweather hasn’t. In fact, smart fighters learn more from losses than victories. Mosley will bring that knowledge into the ring on May 1.
7. Can Mayweather handle Mosley’s power?
We’ll see. No one is more in awe of Mayweather’s defensive skills than I am; he generally makes his opponents look foolish. Mosley is anything but a typical opponent, though. No one could avoid the punches of a skillful and quick-handed fighter like Mosley for entire fight. And what will happen when he lands? Mayweather has survived some powerful punchers — Corrales, Judah and Phillip Ndou come to mind — without much problem. However, none of them had Mosley’s ability to land their most-punishing punches with any consistency. Mosley will land clean, hard shots. It will be interesting to see how Mayweather reacts.
8. Will the winner supplant Manny Pacquiao as the No. 1 fighter pound for pound?
No. An argument can be made that Mayweather should be ranked above Pacquiao now. Thus, one could say with some legitimacy that Mosley should be No. 1 if he beats him. However, Pacquiao earned the top spot with a series of spectacular victories and has done nothing to lose it. The only way either Mayweather or Mosley can supplant Pacquiao is to beat him. That could be problematic for Mayweather because he and the Filipino star might never be able to agree on a contract. However, should Mosley win on May 1, a profoundly compelling matchup with Pacquiao would determine the best fighter on the planet.
9. What if Mayweather wins?
Mayweather has been criticized for carefully choosing his opponents to preserve his perfect record, which is fair. However, we must give him credit for taking on a fighter as talented as Mosley. Mayweather’s critics will probably dismiss his victory, if he wins, by declaring he beat an old man. That wouldn’t be fair. Mosley is coming off a sensational victory over a fighter who was on pound-for-pound lists and has been rejuvenated by his association with new trainer Naazim Richardson. He remains an excellent fighter. A victory over him would be a significant accomplishment for Mayweather. And, more important, it would set up another round of negotiations with Pacquiao.
10. What if Mosley wins?
We bow down and marvel at the accomplishment. Mosley is about a decade removed from his days as the No. 1 fighter in the world. And he was thought to be in serious decline after his second loss to Wright, when he was 33. He is 7-1 since then, capping what might be called a comeback with his emphatic KO of Margarito early last year. A victory over Mayweather would allow him to argue that he’s back on top of the heap at 38. It would also set up a showdown with Pacquiao that could break all pay-per-view and money-generating records. And, finally, a victory would seal his legacy as one of the best fighters of his era if there’s any doubt right now.