Even with 6-to-1 odds favoring Manny Pacquiao, fans had been optimistically reminded that styles make fights.
Unfortunately, not this one. Actually, it would be more accurate to note that Shane Mosley, now almost 40, doesn’t have much style left. Or speed. Or power. Or, most disappointingly, the willingness to engage.
“I wasn’t going to take risks,” said Mosley, moments after losing a unanimous and lopsided decision.
Don’t blame the judges. They got it right: 119-108 said Glen Trowbridge, 120-107 according to both Duane Ford and Dave Moretti. For what it’s worth, I didn’t have Mosley winning a round except, in a technical sense, the 10th, when referee Kenny Bayless erroneously ruled that he had knocked Pacquiao down. (The first round was uneventful enough to be deemed a draw.) But the most accurate judgment was rendered by 16,412 fans, who booed continuously from the middle rounds on. Having paid top dollar, they certainly had cause. It was supposed to be a big fight, after all. And fighters are supposed to take risks.
“He was waiting for the opening to take his shot,” said Pacquiao.
That opening, of course, never presented itself. “He’s the fastest I’ve ever seen,” said Mosley.
And that was on a bad leg. “After the fourth round, Manny came back complaining of cramps in his left leg muscles,” said his trainer, Freddie Roach. “After that, he had no leverage to throw punches.”
Still, against every expectation, Mosley wasn’t taking any chances. In fact, his manners were so good as to be infuriating. After each exchange, it seemed, Mosley insisted on touching gloves. Then there were the times he pawed at his eye, wondering if Pacquiao had drawn blood. Soon, Mosley’s real purpose became clear: Each tap was an attempt, not just to delay, but to stave off time.
But now it’s come for Mosley. If his loss to Floyd Mayweather and the draw with Sergio Mora could be written off as a result of styles, this one cannot be. It is now clear that Mosley’s ferocity, or his willingness to apply it, has diminished with age. The stats show him landing 82 of 260 punches, thrown over 12 rounds. That’s fewer than seven punches landed a round. The best thing he did all night was come out behind LL Cool J, rapping “Mama said knock you out.”
“I actually didn’t hear any boos,” said Mosley. “I was just concentrating on the fight.”
In the third round, Pacquiao put him down with a short left hand. “It didn’t seem like a big shot,” said Mosley. “But the impact was very strong … Manny has a different kind of power I haven’t felt from anyone else.”
Mosley rose, slowly, and glassy-eyed. The larger point had been proven, the pattern set.
“I had to watch out,” said Mosley, who now declined to press openings for fear they were cons. “There were shots that I seen that sometimes could have been traps. You never know what could happen.”
Especially, if you never tried.
Meanwhile, Pacquiao — a champion in eight weight divisions — kept walking him down. Once again, the naturally smaller man was acting like the bigger one.
“I don’t think Shane tried to win,” said Roach. “I think he tried to survive.”
As it happened, Congressman Manny Pacquiao looked pretty good after the fight. He was unbloodied and unmarked, and had no need of the sunglasses he used after the last several fights with natural welterweights. Still, he was clearly disappointed.
“It’s not my fault,” said Pacquiao. “I was surprised that he ran and ran. I wanted to go toe-to-toe with him. But he was running just to finish the 12 rounds.”
Now it seems as if Pacquiao will fight Juan Manuel Marquez in November. They have fought twice already, the last time at 130 pounds. If that no longer makes for an ideal pairing, at least Marquez will fight.
That’s more than can be said for Mosley or Manny’s now-mythical opponent, Floyd Mayweather. “It would be a great fight, but if it doesn’t happen, I won’t lose a moment’s sleep,” said Pacquiao. “I’m satisfied with my career.”
As well he should be. Still, Bob Arum couldn’t resist. “Manny would beat the crap out of Mayweather, I guarantee,” said the promoter.
You’ll probably never find out. Mayweather doesn’t like taking risks, either. Also, he’s logged more arrests than fights these last couple of years.