Boxing

Mosley ruins Mayweather's win over Marquez

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Mark Kriegel

Mark Kriegel is the national columnist for FOXSports.com. He is the author of two New York Times best sellers, Namath: A Biography and Pistol: The Life of Pete Maravich, which Sports Illustrated called "the best sports biography of the year."

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LAS VEGAS

As it ended, with Shane Mosley in the ring seizing an unwarranted opportunity to provoke Floyd Mayweather, HBO's $50 pay-per-view felt like WWE's "Monday Night Raw." If only Mosley could've conducted himself with the class of Pretty Boy's valet, Triple H. "Tonight is not Mosley's night," Mayweather said later. "I don't get in the ring and grab the mic and take away another fighter's shine." For once, Mayweather's resentment was well-founded, as the inauguration of Mosley's clumsy campaign for a payday obscured a brilliant performance. At 146 pounds, Mayweather only did what he was widely forecast to do, of course. He beat a game, though smaller man in Juan Manuel Marquez. (To harp on the weight disparity now seems willfully ignorant of all the praise Mayweather received for coming back against such a tough and formidable opponent). Some might even take exception with his failure to knock Marquez out. But these arguments miss the larger points. First, Mayweather dispatched with the issue of his 21-month layoff. Turns out, it didn't matter. Second, he re-established himself as the most elusive fighter since Pernell Whitaker. Sure, people want to see a knockout. Still, according to CompuBox, Juan Manuel Marquez managed to land just 69 punches through 12 rounds. That, too, was something to behold. In fact, to see what Mayweather can do up close is to witness a craft that borders on art, a talent that shows better from ringside than on the small screen. As for that pound-for-pound title, well, that's still up for debate. And it's not a bad thing, either.
Mayweather or Pacquiao? The argument may be settled Nov. 14, when Pacquiao fights Miguel Cotto. Or maybe not. The common opponent theories might have to suffice until they actually fight each other. Going into Saturday night's bout at the MGM, Pacquiao seemed to have the edge, having decimated two fighters Mayweather had merely beaten in Oscar De La Hoya and Ricky Hatton. But now they have a third opponent in common. Pacquiao fought Juan Manuel Marquez twice, earning a draw and a disputed split-decision win. But after seeing Marquez fight Mayweather just once, no one wants a rematch. The judges had it 120-107, 119-108 and 118-109. I had Mayweather, 119-108, 11 rounds to one, but only because I bent over backwards to give Marquez the seventh. The single surprise is that it went that long. Most people — Mayweather included — thought it would end in the second round, after he pounced on Marquez, leading with, of all things, a hook. After Marquez went down, Mayweather tried to finish him, to become the first fighter to KO Marquez. "I couldn't," the unmarked Mayweather said at the press conference. "Couldn't. Guy was too tough. ... I don't rate this as one of my best fights. I think I could've done better. I couldn't have done a lot better." It was an uncharacteristically modest admission, as it came from a man who calls himself "Money." But when I asked him what, exactly, he could've done better, he became elusive again. Short of a knockout — with 25 KOs he's not Whitaker, though he prides himself more on efficiency than brute force — I don't know what else he could've done. The single trace of ring rust was an inability or unwillingness to throw combinations. Then again, when you can lead with a hook, like that ... "A lot of people thought I was going to get knocked out and I didn't," said Marquez, taking his victories where he could find them. "I hope I made Mexico proud. ... I was willing to die in that ring." Such pride was appreciated by the pro-Marquez crowd of 13,116. They cheered him on. They oohed and aahed at flurries that might've looked impressive from a distance. Closer to the ring, you could see what Mayweather was doing: rolling and slipping, catching punches with his shoulders and elbows. Even with Mayweather hovering in front of his nose, or with his back to the ropes, Marquez could barely lay a glove on him. And by the time he did connect, both fighters understood there was nothing the smaller man could do to hurt the bigger man. The eighth round ended with Mayweather on the ropes, telling Marquez to bring it on. In the ninth, he hit Marquez with an overhand right that would have felled another fighter. Yes, Marquez had a right to feel good about himself. He took his beating well. He learned what he is, and what he is not, which is to say, not a welterweight. Floyd Mayweather delivered a boxing lesson. Only Shane Mosley didn't learn anything.

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