5 reasons Pacquiao will beat Mosley
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 Pacquiao could win:
Speed, speed, speed
Pound for pound, Manny Pacquiao probably is the fastest fighter in the world right now. His combination of leg work, punches thrown and overall ring movement (especially his sneaky avoidance of counterpunches with excellent lateral movement) make him a perfect fighting machine. He routinely is a fraction of a second earlier than his opponent in exchanges, and when he actually takes the initiative and lands the first few jabs, the ensuing combinations are simply devastating. If Pacquiao can maintain his usual speed at this weight, there is no doubt he'll extend his current streak of victories against top-rated opponents.
Mayweather is a must
If Pacquiao loses to Mosley (not out of the realm of possibility), a Pacquiao fight against Floyd Mayweather Jr. still would be the most profitable fight that could be made in boxing today. But if Pacquiao wins, his fight against Mayweather suddenly becomes the biggest event in boxing history. The sport deserves it, Pacquiao deserves it and even Mayweather -- he of the constant foot-dragging, empty challenges and delirious requests for more money -- deserves it, too. And Pacquiao needs it to realize his full potential and prevent his enormous legacy from being plagued by a single, huge "What if?"
Ultimate pound-for-pound validation
A year ago, Mosley and Mayweather fought for 12 rounds in a bout that brought Mayweather out of his temporary retirement and thrust him back into the limelight -- to the top of the world pound-for-pound rankings. Since then, speculation about a Pacquiao-Mayweather fight has saturated the media and public discourse, but without any tangible resolution in sight. The standard practice is for a fighter, after a year of inactivity, to be summarily eliminated from the world rankings. That is the case with Mayweather, who recently disappeared from all rankings, giving way to Pacquiao as the unanimous pound-for-pound king. Although some believe Pacquiao is the only fighter interested in making the match, the truth is, the volatile Mayweather likely is waiting for the right moment, the right provocation or the right amount of money to give the final OK. For that to happen, Pacquiao needs to continue hurting the feelings of his nemesis with crushing victories against top-rated rivals. If Pacquiao manages to KO Mosley, he will have achieved a feat Mayweather couldn't. That will carry some weight in the effort to coax Mayweather out of retirement to settle the dispute for the P4P title.
Physical and mental growth
When a fighter begins to make his way in boxing, he knows his physical growth eventually will reach its limits. Very few fighters have been able to successfully traverse more than four or five weight divisions. Pacquiao already has fought in 10 -- starting at flyweight, where he made his debut in 1995 at the tender age of 16, through his junior middleweight championship fight of last year at age 32. That growth wouldn't have been possible if it weren't also accompanied by an extraordinary mental edge. Pacquiao dominates his rivals by inflicting a tremendous volume of punishment, and the accumulation of punches amounts to a level of abuse that causes his rivals to cave; most are incapable of continuing (or simply refuse to) in the face of such a beating. If Pacquiao manages to administer the same sort of punishment on the great Mosley, he will have scored one of the most impressive victories of his career.
Boxing needs him on top
Until that sunny day in 2014 when rising prospect Saul "Canelo" Alvarez and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. fight at Mexico City's Estadio Azteca before the largest crowd ever to witness a boxing match -- deservedly or not, that's how big that fight could be -- boxing needs a superstar with instant box office appeal. Pacquiao holds that title until someone wrenches it away from him. As large as the Filipino community of Dallas may be, it could never fill a stadium with more than 20,000 seats. Yet Pacquiao drew more than 60,000 to glamorous Cowboys Stadium to watch him fight a relatively unknown and unattractive fighter in Joshua Clottey. Pacquiao's marketability has no limit right now, and a victory against another pay-per-view record-breaker such as Mosley would keep him at the top of the podium long enough for the next generation of superstars to reach his level.
Diego Morilla is a contributor to ESPNdeportes.com.