LAS VEGAS – Shane Mosley surprised us in at least two regards in his fight against Manny Pacquiao on Saturday at the MGM Grand.
One, the 39-year-old was much quicker and had better reflexes than many expected him to have. And, two, a boxer known the past two decades for his fighting spirit left his heart in the dressing room.
In short, he was far more determined to survive the 12 rounds than engage Pacquaio in anything resembling a fight.
As a result, 16,412 frustrated fans in the arena and millions watching on television worldwide had to suffer through a painfully boring – and profoundly disappointing – night.
The boos that rained down upon the ring at various points of the fight told the story.
Pacquiao, who won a near-shutout decision, did his part. He attacked with great fire from the second round on even though he suffered from what was described as a cramp in his left leg beginning a few rounds later.
The Filipino warrior relentlessly tracked his reluctant foe, desperately trying to cut off the ring and land effective punches as his fans urged him on with chants of “Manny! Manny! Manny!” And he did do some damage, including a knock down in third round in which Mosley acknowledged he was badly hurt.
Mostly, though, Mosley backpedaled or held or did whatever else it took to avoid getting hit when Pacquiao attacked while throwing few punches of his own. The idea of fighting back apparently never (or at least rarely) crossed his mind.
Afterward, at the post-fight news conference, Mosley in effect said he was afraid of Pacquiao’s unusual power even though he took great risks against many big punchers – Ricardo Mayorga, Vernon Forrest, Antonio Margarito, et al – over his career.
Too bad he didn’t tell us beforehand that he didn’t plan to take risks this time. He would’ve saved millions of people a lot of time and money by skipping the fight.
Pacquiao’s reputation is as stellar as ever. He tried to make it a fight, he tried to entertain the fans in spite of the cramp. And, even though the fight was horrible, he won for 14th consecutive time since he was outpointed by Erik Morales in 2005. He still owns boxing.
Clearly, though, he was frustrated by Mosley’s unwillingness to engage him.
“I think people want a good fight, exchanging a lot of punches,” said Pacquiao, his face utterly void of damage. “That’s what I want. Mosley didn’t want to fight toe to toe. He was always running. Every time I throw a lot of punches, he says, ‘Go away.’
“I was expecting him to fight with me at least five of the 12 rounds, fight toe to toe, to test our power, our stamina. What can I do when my opponent doesn’t to fight toe to toe? It’s not my fault.”
The former three-division titleholder will be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame five years after he retires. He has earned that.
That said, he’ll have difficulty living down his performance on Saturday night.
Mosley has crowed about his fighting spirit his entire career and almost always demonstrated it in the ring. Who can forget his performances against Oscar De La Hoya and Margarito, for example. Those who paid to see him fight on Saturday had reason to expect that Mosley to show up.
Well, he fooled us. That Mosley was nowhere to be found. The one who entered the ring apparently only came for the payday – a guaranteed $6 million – with no thought whatsoever of the fans who made him what he is today.
We thought Mosley might have problems with Pacquiao’s speed and all-around ability. And we’ll take his word for it when he said he had problems with a blister on his right foot for much of the fight, just as we take Pacquiao’s word about the cramp.
Still, we never imagined that he wouldn’t at least stand and fight, at least show signs of the warrior we have come to know and admire over the years.
Mosley booed? Unthinkable.
And then to tell us that he chose not to take risks because he was afraid of Pacquiao’s power? Shane Mosley? Afraid of someone’s power?
No one can say whether Mosley let himself down with his pathetic performance; only he knows that. He definitely let down countless fans and the sport of boxing, though. Once again, the sport was on display for the world to see. And Mosley, for lack of effort, made it look like an absolute joke.
Freddie Roach, Pacquiao’s trainer, was asked afterward whether he was disappointed that Mosley refused to take the risks necessary to give the fans their money’s worth.
Once again, he said a lot in a few words.
“I don’t think he tried to win the fight,” he said of Mosley. “And when you get to that point in boxing, it’s time to call it a day.”