I reached a point of complete mental exhaustion with the ongoing negotiations between the camps of Floyd Mayweather, JR., and Manny Pacquiao long before the throngs of Mayweather supporters started chanting in unison that something was up on the basis of Team Pacquiao’s outright refusal to submit to the schedule of Olympic style blood testing as demanded by Team “Money”. As the negotiations took on a tone that suggested “soap opera” and fan sentiment became polarized to a point well beyond the norm, I quickly embraced the “glass is really half full” mentality with the notion that other great match-ups awaited both Pacquiao and Mayweather should their proposed mega-fight implode. When the negotiations fell apart both fighters were left to find other mountains to climb while mindless chatter about our sport dying a sudden death flooded the internet.
Initial speculation had Pac crossing swords with WBA World light middleweight champion Yuri Foreman for an 8th division world title but eventually Team Pacquiao settled in on former IBF welterweight champion Joshua Clottey, a stiff assignment at the very least by any reasonable standard. Names such as Juan Diaz and Paulie Malignaggi circulated relative to “Money” in the weeks thereafter, and while both are former world champions that give their all each time they enter the ring, neither is big enough or talented enough to pose any kind of realistic threat to the undefeated “Pretty Boy”. I suppose that Diaz and Malignaggi would serve as decent tune-ups for Floyd given his penchant for exhibition, but at least they were several steps up from Matthew Hatton, who rumor had it was on the table as a potential foe.
Moving along, and playing into my ongoing assertion that there were other terrific match-ups set to occur in the wake of the demise of Pac/Mayweather, WBA Super World welterweight champion “Sugar” Shane Mosley had signed to face the undefeated and unquestionably talented Andre Berto, his WBC counterpart, in a high-stakes unification match that was for all intents and purposes, a consolation prize of sorts for fans and perhaps in the mind of Mosley himself, after failing to coerce Floyd Mayweather into the ring after confronting him publicly on HBO last year. Unfortunately, the recent earthquake that devastated Haiti had repercussions that affected our sport, and Berto, a man of Haitian descent, backed out of the match just mere weeks before the first bell, citing quite reasonably his inability to focus on the task at hand given the devastation that had touched members of his extended family.
Like any good soap opera, boxing has always specialized in serving up twists and turns that more often than not are not ranked as obvious. If you had told me three months ago that Floyd would line-up “Sugar” Shane Mosley as an alternate opponent should a super fight with the Filipino phenom not be forthcoming I would have outright shrugged the notion off. Today though, it is looking more and more as though Mayweather’s hand may have been forced into choosing one of the most formidable fighters in and around his weight class with word coming down that Mayweather’s crew is openly entertaining a meeting between these two great fighters.
Credit the very possibility of a Mayweather/Mosley match-up to sheer ego on Floyd’s part, pinched perhaps by Shane’s obnoxious challenge on HBO last September in the aftermath of his almost perfect comeback victory over Juan Manuel Marquez, or the near-fanatical flame-fanning Max Kellerman performed to near perfection as Mosley delivered his rhetoric, or even perhaps with Joshua Clottey being asked to the big dance by the mighty Pacquiao in a manner that was decidedly dismissive of Floyd.
Whatever the case, seeing Floyd step to it with Mosley is for me and the sport a breath of fresh air, and the truth of the matter is we actually might be getting more bang for the buck now that Pacquiao/Mayweather is off of the table for the time being than if it had gone ahead as hoped for. Instead of one big fat giant mega-fight we now have two very sexy big events that will in fact not only serve to sort the welterweight division out, it promises to answer many of the lingering questions. Throw a monkey-wrench like to rumored ring return of former WBA/WBO welterweight champion Antonio Margarito into the mix and all of a sudden one-hundred and forty-seven sounds an awful lot like the division to watch in 2010.
The popular train of thought about a Mayweather/Mosley match-up is that Shane’s sheer aggression and power would ultimately prove too much for the safety-conscious “Money”, or at the very least, a re-invigorated Mosley would be too hard to come off clean against in a tooth and nail close shave. Whatever the case, Mosley’s sheer passion seems to have affected the reasoning of most fans, but I have always wondered just how good Mosley would look against a supremely confident boxer with the ability to adjust and shift gears and for this reason alone, I am very excited about the prospect of “Money” and “Sugar” meeting.
Brain Wilbur, one of my esteemed colleagues here at RSR recently responded to a query on Mayweather/Mosley in his weekly mailbag. His response was perhaps the best response I have seen to date on the outcome of such a match-up – and it isn’t reflective of the general train of thought on how these two ring greats will fare once the echo of the first bell fades; “Mayweather should agree to fight Mosley because that would be a very easy win for him. This is a horrible styles match up for Mosley. If I had to design a boxer who had the best set of skills and talents to defeat Shane Mosley I would come up with Floyd Mayweather. Antonio Margarito, as good as he was, came directly at Mosley and was tailor made for “Sugar” Shane. Mayweather is a slick boxer with a good jab, exactly the type of fighter that Mosley has struggled with in the past, losing decisions to Vernon Forrest and Winky Wright. I see Floyd winning that fight by a 119-109 type score. There would be nothing to fear, so for that reason I think Floyd will take the fight.
Though Mayweather has ducked Mosley in the past, the competition he feels from Pacquiao to be the best will force him to take on a better quality opponent than he has been fighting. Although I would hardly consider fighting Shane Mosley taking a chance for Mayweather since he has such an overwhelming style advantage.”
So there you have it. As ballsy a prediction as that may sound, it is made with the hope that we see Floyd Mayweather, JR., move onto a challenge just a half-rung down from a Manny Pacquiao super fight. No, boxing did not die recently. In fact, focus is shifting and we may now have the opportunity to see a self-appointed all-time great face another potential all-timer in a showdown that is long overdue. A surprising ending just may be in the offing and provided Manny Pacquiao turns back Josh Clottey, that mega-fight we just recently missed out on just may serve to be a blessing in disguise, and end up being back on the radar later in the year. With boxing, I’ve learned, the glass is always really half-full.