Commentary

Fight Review: Shane Mosley's key bouts

Originally Published: May 2, 2011
By Don Steinberg | Special to ESPN.com

Mosley-Winky WrightAl Bello/Getty ImagesShane Mosley struggled with Winky Wright's southpaw stance even more so than his size.

We can't predict what will happen Saturday in Las Vegas, but a review of several key fights in Shane Mosley's career may hint at how he'll match up against Manny Pacquiao.

1. Winky Wright I
When:
March 13, 2004, Las Vegas
Result: Mosley loses by unanimous decision in 12
What it means: As an opponent, there's a lot that Wright doesn't have in common with Pacquiao. Pacquiao is explosive; Wright's style was always more like a muffler. Winky stood 5-foot-10½, four inches taller than Manny, and Wright is a career junior middleweight who fought as heavy as 170 pounds. The similarity? Like Pacquiao, Wright fights left-handed. From the southpaw stance, Wright handed Mosley two of his six career defeats.

In this first of their two bouts, Wright came out more aggressively than usual, outjabbing Mosley and using the jab to set up repeated hard lefts. Mosley was at 154 pounds for only the third time, challenging for Wright's junior middleweight title, and his best hope in combating Wright's size advantage was to outbox him. But Mosley was flustered and unable to set the pace. He couldn't penetrate and defended poorly, often circling to his own right, toward that pesky left hand, instead of away from it.

Part of Mosley's problem in the fight was Wright's size. But Pacquiao as a smaller southpaw will present a different (yet similar) problem. Size and speed both are a means for controlling space in the ring, and Pacquiao uses his blazing speed to compensate for his lack of size. He punishes opponents in skirmishes over space by moving in and out with brutal punches. Mosley has done better against other southpaws, handling journeyman Raul Marquez in 2003 and contender Luis Collazo in 2007 (though Collazo landed some solid lefts). Still, based on Mosley's troubles with Wright, Pacquiao's southpaw stance is likely to give Mosley one more thing to worry about.

2. Miguel Cotto
When:
Nov. 10, 2007, New York
Result: Mosley loses by unanimous decision in 12
What it means: Mosley doesn't have past opponents in his portfolio who really simulate Pacquiao's dynamite. But Cotto, circa 2007, came close. Remember, Mosley fought a pre-damaged Cotto, before Cotto took a beating at the suspect hands of Antonio Margarito. Cotto was 27 years old. He was 30-0 with 25 knockouts, a pressure fighter with a killer body attack and underappreciated hand speed (though nowhere near as nimble as Pacquiao). Cotto is short like Pacquiao, too, at 5-7.

The 5-9 Mosley seemed comfortable fighting a shorter man. He stood in, traded flurries and scored with solid rights. Cotto gave back -- gave Mosley maybe the roughest fight of his career. Cotto, having built a lead, backed Mosley up with a lunging left to end Round 9. But Mosley turned Cotto's head with a cracking right to the jaw in Round 10. Round 11 was brutal, as both fighters landed body and head shots. Mosley surged to win the final round. A close decision went to Cotto. Mosley took plenty of punishment, but he didn't get stopped. He never has been. Against Cotto he demonstrated the chin, stamina and guts he'll most certainly need if he wants to keep that streak alive versus Pacquiao.

[+] EnlargeMosley-Antonio Margarito
Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty ImagesAntonio Margarito is no Manny Pacquiao, but Shane Mosley's control of pace in the Margarito fight demonstrated what could be a crucial skill Saturday.

3. Antonio Margarito
When:
Jan. 24, 2009, Los Angeles
Result: Mosley wins by TKO in 9
What it means: What can Mosley's mega-upset over Antonio Margarito tell us about Pacquiao-Mosley? Well, Margarito has something in common with Pacquiao, despite their physical differences. Like PacMan, Margarito was known for a relentless, come-forward attack and high-volume punching (he had thrown an insane 1,675 punches against Joshua Clottey). Against that style, Mosley was able to control the pace of this fight, keeping Margarito's output low by timing his rushes, sliding to angles, punishing him to the body, landing winging rights to the head and muscling him carefully in close. "Swim without getting wet," is how Mosley's trainer Naazim Richardson described the game plan to get in, punch and get out. It worked.

After a few rounds, Mosley had Margarito backing up. He floored him to close Round 8, and less than a minute into Round 9, with Mosley pounding Margarito on the ropes, referee Raul Caiz Jr. stepped in and stopped it. No one expects Mosley to handle Pacquiao like that, but with this giant win late in his career, Mosley showed that at age 37 he still could summon champion-caliber speed and finishing power. Now he needs to do it one more time.

[+] EnlargeMayweather-Mosley
Gabriel Bouys/AFP/Getty ImagesFloyd Mayweather Jr. had to ride out an early onslaught from an amped-up Shane Mosley last May.

4. Floyd Mayweather Jr.
When:
May 1, 2010, Las Vegas
Result: Mosley loses by unanimous decision in 12
What it means: Every so often, Mosley comes out at the opening bell looking agitated and tightly wound, doing everything in a jerky, ultra-tense fast-motion. He seems to ramp it up like this when he's facing quickness and skill equal to his own. His first fight against Oscar De La Hoya was like that (it was likened to a game of speed chess), and so was his meeting with Floyd Mayweather Jr. last May. Expect the same intense, hair-trigger approach from Mosley against Pacquiao.

The amped-up electricity worked early for Mosley in this fight. In Round 2, he rocked Mayweather with a right, muscled out of a desperate Mayweather clinch and pursued him to the ropes. But Mayweather is a ring genius whose masterful defense (grabbing, parrying, rolling his shoulder) has yet to be cracked. Mayweather survives rare onslaughts, spends a few rounds figuring an opponent out, then dominates. Mosley was no exception: Mayweather made his mental notes, methodically turned the tables and took complete control.

If any opponent has prepared Mosley to face Pacquiao, it was Mayweather. But was the education too brutal? In Mosley's next fight, versus Sergio Mora, he was listless, and the battle was a dud. So the question that's left to ask about Shane Mosley: Did the drubbing he took from Mayweather ruin him? Or does he selectively save his super sauce for the super-fights? No doubt he'll come out tightly wound and ready to spring against Manny Pacquiao. Will it be enough?

Don Steinberg, a winner of the Boxing Writers Association of America's award for best column in 2005, covers boxing for The Philadelphia Inquirer.