Photos by Sumio Yamada
FLOYD MAYWEATHER Jr vs SHANE MOSLEY
Floyd Mayweather Jr. has been taking bombast to new levels, even daring to suggest that his talent surpasses that of Sugar Ray Robinson, as he heads into Saturdays welterweight superfight with Shane Mosley at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
Im not sure whether Mayweather really believes this or whether he is just stirring up interest in the fight: I suspect a little of both. He certainly stands alone as a showman. People are interested in Mayweather. Many fans want to see him lose and will be pulling for Mosley, the nice guy in the 12-round PPV bout. Mayweather seems quite happy with this situation. If he has to fill the role of the fighter they love to hate, that is quite OK with Money Mayweather.
The fight with Mosley is seen as a severe test for Mayweather against the best available opponent after the collapse of his megafight with Manny Pacquiao.
Mayweather is a firm favourite, though, with odds creeping up to -450 or thereabouts at some sportsbooks. Although Mosley is respected, the widespread feeling in the boxing trade is that Mayweather is going to be too young and too fast. Still, the contest is intriguing, because Mosley looked so good in his last fight when knocking out Antonio Margarito. It was as if Mosley turned back the clock. He was speedy and strong, and his combination punching was highly impressive. Mosley outclassed and destroyed a fighter who was expected to be far too much for him.
I believe, though, that the Margarito who lost to Mosley wasnt the same fighter as the one who had worn down Miguel Cotto. It appears that Margarito was not as well-prepared as he had been for the Cotto fight, with a shorter training camp and a weight-loss factor. The well-publicised pre-fight furore, when illegal hardened pads were discovered inside Margaritos handwraps, must have been at least unsettling for the Mexican fighter.
Mosley did what he had to do and he looked borderline sensational in doing it, but I cant get away from the feeling that he was meeting a diminished Margarito.
In his last fight before this, Mosley had struggled with Ricardo Mayorga before winning on a last-second knockout. The Mosley of the Mayorga fight looked ordinary and was being caught too easily by right hands. I believe that Mosley is better than he looked against Mayorga but not quite as good as when he annihilated Margarito.
Mayweather, meanwhile, is a fighter who has adapted to every situation and overcome every style of fighter. In every fight, Mayweather has always looked the superior boxer in the ring. He has never had to battle back from adversity, although the first four rounds of the Zab Judah fight were difficult, so it could be that we havent seen the very best of him. If Mosley can bring out the best in Mayweather and push him to the limit, this will be a tremendous fight.
I simply cant see Mosley winning, though. Mayweather has, for me, the better jab and the greater level of skill. Mosley will no doubt seek to keep the pressure on Mayweather, trying to keep him from settling into a rhythm, to back him up, if he can, and outwork and outfight him. However, I think that Mayweather can roll with the punches, weather Mosleys attacks and come back with sharp punching to regain command.
I see Mosley being tenacious and tough but I think that Mayweather will find the answers. Mayweathers jab and his crisp right hands can pile up points and I think that his physical strength might surprise Mosley. I feel that Mayweather is in his prime at 33 while Mosley, coming up for 38, has been in many wars and might have been flattered by the Margarito performance. It would be very surprising if Mayweather stopped Mosley but I do believe he can outpoint him clearly in a competitive contest that will reflect credit on both boxers.