5 reasons Mosley will beat Pacquiao
LAS VEGAS -- Epic is the best way to describe this Saturday's welterweight title fight between Manny Pacquiao (52-3-2, 38 KOs) and Shane Mosley (46-6-1, 39 KOs). As surprising or predictable as the result may be, it is quite unlikely for us to see anything new from these two all-time greats.
Their styles are battle-tested, their strengths and weaknesses are well known, and they have accomplished enough to open their own private Hall of Fames out of the garages of their mansions. With rare exceptions, the fights that they may make after this one will be done, regardless of the outcome of this fight and without it being a determining factor in the ensuing negotiations. This is one of those rare fights in which the worst-case scenario is a fight well above the current average, and in the best possible case it will be an epic and historic performance.
There are several ways this fight can play out. Here are five potential reasons Mosley could win:
Size does matter
Mosley was one of the most dominant lightweight champs in recent memory, and his great physique has carried him up to welterweight and beyond without losing steam, speed, mobility or ability to absorb punishment. Regardless of how much he has grown, Pacquiao is a fighter who has seen his best years at and around featherweight, and he is simply stretching himself too thin (or too heavy, in this case) in his search for opponents worthy of his skills and his box-office appeal. If Mosley is able to impose his longer reach and larger frame, he will have an additional advantage to go with his agility and world-class boxing skills.
Mosley never quits
He was counted out too many times, as recently (and as wrongly) as in the days prior to his annihilation of Antonio Margarito in his prime. He was handed a one-way ticket to retirement on several occasions, and the fat lady was summoned ringside for the long-awaited curtain call once too many. But the truth is that Mosley fights on as if his career was in its best days, with total disregard for his critics. The recent news that Pacquiao is already planning his next fight (a proposed fight in the fall against Juan Manuel Marquez) could faze anyone else, but Mosley never takes notice of such signs of disrespect toward his chances. Anybody else would have settled for a clear and less risky decision victory against Margarito or Ricardo Mayorga, but Mosley laid it all on the line as if he was the one with something to prove. If he can maintain his intensity against the whirlwind of unpredictable activity that is Pacquiao, he will probably be able to surprise the Filipino great toward the end of a stressful and difficult fight.
The future is today
In spite of what we have said earlier, and as laudable as is Mosley's approach toward boxing's adversities, the truth is that a well prepared and trim 39-year-old body is still a 39-year-old body. As the division he fights in gets crowded with younger, faster and tougher contenders, with each fight Mosley gives up energy and youth he will never possess again. Because of his attractive style and his complete devotion to the sport, he has been able to fight the most outstanding fighters of his time. But those opportunities grow more scarce, and his current situation cannot tolerate one more defeat. This fight represents his last chance to achieve the type of economic and professional reward that he deserves, and if he makes good use of this chance he may reach an even greater level of respect from the boxing world.
His legacy could use a more solid foundation
One year ago, Mosley was decisively winning the second round of a 12-round fight against boxing's pound-for-pound king, Floyd Mayweather Jr. Since then, he has fought 22 more rounds that could easily be considered between mediocre and acceptable, preceded by two brilliant performances against Margarito and Mayorga. In sum, Mosley is 2-2-1 in his last five outings. If he wants to leave behind a legacy worthy of his talent, Mosley know he has to weather everything Pacquiao offers him and up the ante on every minute of every round, with the minimum goal of an honorable defeat in mind, and with the ultimate goal of pulling the upset and looking dominant in the process.
This is his last shot at true greatness
In this fight, Mosley will manage the rare feat of being one of the very few fighters to face one of the world's best fighters twice in a 12-month span. Last May 1, Mosley faced Mayweather, who was then perceived as boxing's pound-for-pound king. It ended in an honorable but clear defeat for Mosley. Mayweather has not fought since that day. Pacquiao (perceived by many as the second-best in that mythical list during those days, or even a step higher) has now moved to the top spot. In spite of being defeated against a younger and faster fighter that night, Mosley showed flashes of his former self (especially in the fateful second round, in which he had Mayweather on the brink of a knockdown, or perhaps something worse). We do not exaggerate if we say Mosley had the tools to put on a much better performance that night. He still has another chance. In spite of being the underdog, he has the tools to pull off the upset that could bring him back to the top -- and on to true, everlasting greatness.
Diego Morilla is a contributor to ESPNdeportes.com.