Photos by Sumio Yamada
MANNY PACQUIAO W12 SHANE MOSLEY
The initial reaction, it has to be said, was one of disappointment. Manny Pacquiao dominated Shane Mosley, outclassed him and beat him up in a one-sided 12-round decision. Boos cascaded down, though, from the upper reaches of the sold-out MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday night. People didn’t want to see a drawn-out public flogging. They wanted more.
What the crowd wanted was a spectacular finish. They had seen Mosley lose round after round, seen him dropped heavily, and now they wanted to see Pacquiao close the show.
It sounds cruel to say it, but what the crowd didn’t want was to see Pacquiao touching gloves and behaving like the gentleman he is. No, they wanted to see Pacquiao leave the nice guy part of him outside the ropes and get in there and get his 39-year-old opponent out of the fight.
Everyone knew going into the fight that Pacquaio was going to win this welterweight title bout. The only question was how he would win. I expected a late-rounds stoppage victory. I think that Mosley was ready to be stopped, but what was needed from Pacquiao was the sort of blistering assault he unleashed in, say, the second and third fights against Erik Morales.
Mosley, having sampled Pacquiao’s power early, wanted no part of mixing it up. Mosley looked shocked when a thunderbolt left hand from Pacquiao’s southpaw stance dropped him in the third round. After that it was strictly survival. Mosley called on all his experience to get through the 12 rounds. When Pacquiao took four steps forward, Mosley sprinted six steps back. If Pacquiao got close, Mosley held him. Also, Mosley threw a sufficient number of hard punches to keep Pacquiao a little bit wary. Even though he will turn 40 in four months, Mosley can still bang.
Pacquiao is a tremendous fighter but, to me, he doesn’t have the hunger any more. He isn’t the tiger who stormed out of his corner and demolished Lehonolo Ledwaba in what was considered an upset at the time. Although Pacquiao trains hard and wants to win, he isn’t in there to crush his opponents. If he has a fight won, and the other man isn’t, shall we say, taking liberties, Pacquaio will go into cruise control.
I know that Pacquiao complained of leg cramps from about the fourth round, but he showed what he can do after the knockdown was called against him after he was clearly pushed over in the 10th round. This unjustified eight count brought a furious reaction from Pacquiao, and for just a moment it looked as if he might get the stoppage win as he went after Mosley with a real sense of urgency. If Pacquiao had fought like that in every round, Mosley would never have made it through to the finish.
Mosley’s survival included playing a very clever psychological game. Once he knew for sure he couldn’t win, which I think was after getting dropped in the third round, Mosley made sure he kept on Pacquiao’s good side. The constant touching gloves, the shows of respect, were getting Pacquiao to relax his intensity. It was as if Shane was saying to Pacquiao: “C’mon Manny, no need for us to be hurting each other, we still get paid the same, I love you man, let’s just box through this, OK pal?” With Mosley being such a thoroughly agreeable fellow — and Sugar Shane isa nice man, one of the nicest you could meet — I think that Pacquiao actually felt guilty about hurting him. Even when Pacquiao went down from the push in the 10th round and the referee started counting, Mosley shrugged in apology as if to say: “Now look, that wasn’t my fault, don’t go getting mad at me Manny.”
I haven’t spoken with trainer Freddie Roach but I feel fairly sure that deep down this wasn’t quite the fight he wanted from Pacquiao, but then Freddie is of the old school that likes fighters, even the superstars, to get things done in style once they have confirmed their superiority.
So, yes, I expected more from Pacquiao — and a bit more from Mosley, frankly — but these are human beings. Mosley didn’t want to get blasted to the canvas again and I am not going to blame him for that, and I certainly am not going to be too hard on Pacquiao for being a kindly and compassionate man. It’s just that, to be brutally honest, this event wasn’t what most of us thought we thought we would be getting.