Thoughts after predictably lame Pacquiao-Mosley extravaganza

Moment of clarity I’ve heard so many people who ordered Pacquiao-Mosley say they felt cheated.

With all due respect, if you expected anything other than what you got, you haven’t been paying enough attention.

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Shane Mosley is 39 years old, and even if you were willing to give him a pass for looking mostly lousy against Floyd Mayweather — Floyd can do that to anyone — it would have been difficult to get past the dreadful draw he had last fall against a weak Sergio Mora.

Yet his name recognition still has market value. So when the brass ring of a $5.5 million fight with Manny Pacquiao came around, he of course grabbed it. Unlike some, I don’t see the point in blaming Mosley. It’s kind of like how though Mets fans universally despise Luis Castillo, I don’t blame him for taking a preposterous $24 million contract. It wasn’t his fault it was offered to him.

Some people still can’t let go that Mosley promised he’d be competitive in the fight, which obviously didn’t come to pass.

But what else should he have said? Vowing to compete serves to promote the fight slightly better than admitting he was going to put his track shoes on the minute he got hit hard for the first time. (In retrospect, it’s a certain red flag when a guy feels the need to definitively articulate that he’s going to compete, which should generally be a given.)

You mad?

And then there’s that.

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Despite it being fairly obvious from the get-go it was a sham fight, Top Rank’s Bob Arum knew it would draw big-time based on Manny Pacquiao’s unmatched star power and Shane Mosley’s recognizable name. And it did just that — they made nearly $9  million at the gate alone, I’m sure merchandise was robust, and they easily surpassed a million buys on pay-per-view.

I’d imagine it’s the casual boxing fans and big event chasers that universally feel cheated. They wanted the spectacular knockout, akin to Pacquiao’s destruction of Ricky Hatton with a slack-jawed Jay-Z at ringside.

They also wanted the danger of Mosley landing that one big punch against their hero, as he did against Mayweather in a fight that otherwise looked a lot like the one we just got.

When they ended up with Mosley on his bicycle, they were furious. That’s what happens when people who aren’t actually fans of a sport expect some phenomenal and not necessarily realistic payoff. It doesn’t always happen that way, and it’s all boxing’s fault.

Meanwhile, on the very same card, there was a fantastic Arce-Vasquez fight that couldn’t have possibly disappointed anyone. There was also Kelly Pavlik’s return to the ring — not a remarkable fight, but it featured a guy worth rooting for and an excellent storyline. On the same card as Pacquiao-Mosley were perfect examples of the best that boxing has to offer.

And all people could focus on was the worst.

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I ordered the fight myself. My girl likes Manny, and I generally don’t need very much convincing to watch a boxing match — especially when it involves Pacquiao, who I’ve followed for years.

But I didn’t regret how things turned out. I’d have liked a better fight, but I didn’t come in expecting one. I just wanted to watch Pacquiao.

Everyone knows Manny now — 60 Minutes and the cover of Time Magazine will do that — but I remember watching him in the early part of this decade when not a lot of other people were. I watched intently as he worked his way up in weight class, collecting title belts, eventually staging wars with Juan Manuel Marquez, Marco Antonio Barrera, Erik Morales.

I found Manny fascinating — diminutive, and yet able to punch through brick walls. I remember ordering Pacquaio’s fight against Jorge Solis at 130 (!) back in 2005 and inviting over some friends who don’t watch boxing and had never heard of Pacquaio. They thought he was incredible. And eventually the sport caught on that he appealed to the most casual of viewers.

At this point there’s boxing, and then there’s Pacquiao on a whole other plane. The first fighter since Roy Jones to have a Nike endorsement. Singing on Jimmy Kimmel. Winning a Congress seat in the Philippines.

He obviously helps boxing by being so likable, casting the sport in a positive light as its standard bearer. Yet his matches don’t necessarily help the sport, except in terms of a short-term cash infusion. In fact, he sort of hurts it a bit in terms of setting nearly unattainable expectations, breeding almost certain disappointment. The people who felt they were burned by Pacquiao-Mosley aren’t going to give a second look to, say, Froch-Johnson in June.

They might get sucked back in for Pacquiao’s third fight against Juan Manuel Marquez in November, though that too is a nonsense fight at 145. These two have made magic twice, but Marquez fought Mayweather two years ago at a 144-pound catch weight and didn’t stand a chance. (Presumably, unlike Floyd, Manny would actually endeavor to make weight)

And if the long-awaited Pacquiao-Mayweather match ever actually comes to fruition, probably when Floyd deems that Manny’s skills have slipped enough to make it an easy night, that will be a far greater disappointment. For one, I can’t for the life of me see Pacquiao winning. If he couldn’t catch up to Mosley, he won’t get to the best defensive fighter in the game.

Everyone has pined so long for what I fear would be a pretty boring fight.

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But despite that, I don’t think boxing’s “dying” or anything. The people who do think that, well, they just don’t watch it.

On the contrary, boxing has had an excellent last six months or so — if you’ve been paying attention. Sergio Martinez has had two fun fights, and the only problem with pushing him big-time is that he’s a late bloomer at 35. A fight nobody thought would be any good — myself included — Morales-Maidana, turned out to be phenomenal theater.

Victor Ortiz’s big win over Andre Berto was tremendous to watch. Showtime’s Super Six has resulted in some very good fights. Amir Khan — if he learns how to block an uppercut — and Yuriorkis Gamboa — if he stops beating up his family — look like future headliners.

I’ve never quite seen the charm of MMA compared to boxing’s inherent skill level, pacing, history and drama. And if the Pacquiao fight showed anything of positive value, it’s that there’s still nothing like a big fight in terms of excitement and buzz.

And I was emboldened to have been sucked into a very animated street-corner conversation with four guys on Ninth Avenue in New York City earlier this afternoon about whether Pacquiao could beat Mayweather. The core audience is still engaged, and always will be.

It’s hard to say boxing won’t have another Pacquiao someday. People probably thought there’d never be another phenomenon like Mike Tyson, and yet here we are with Manny.

So don’t tell me how burned you feel after Pacquiao-Mosley. But feel free to ask me what upcoming fight you actually should watch.

You won’t be disappointed.

 

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A couple of quick notes:

That's hot — I, for one, liked that Paris Hilton was there. It was weird that she was at the postmatch presser, and she might not have known what the hell was going on — I think she called it an exciting fight? But whatever her reasons for being there, it can’t hurt to have someone with her notoriety, if you will, involved with it. It’s good for buzz if someone like Paris actually wants to spend her time at a boxing match, rather than at some party or whatever.

— Dan Rafael said the ring walks were the best he’d ever seen. I thought they were cool, and though I thought Pacquiao should have countered LL Cool J by walking down with Canibus and Mike Tyson. That said, none of it compares to my man Prince Naseem Hamed. Anyone remember his Halloween USA debut, set to Thriller? You can have all the washed-up rappers you want, give me this sort of showmanship any day.

 

 

— Nike absolutely hooked it up for Pacquiao, as usual. I want this robe to just lounge around.

— The breakout star of the fight was unquestionably Shane Mosley’s girlfriend, Bella Martinez. I don’t know a whole lot about her, but I don’t think she’s the sort of person you really need to know a whole lot about. Here’s a picture from my dude Jealous Profit, who made the trip out to Vegas.

Stunna

— People forget how big Kelly Pavlik was for a while, but I remember this article vividly, not to mention his fantastic fights with Jermain Taylor. The story is worth a read, and though people picked him apart for not quite looking like the old Pavlik in his match on Saturday night, it was good to see him back in the ring and beating a relatively tough opponent. He throws a left now, which he never did, and looked a lot better at the end of the fight than the beginning. He’s not ready for prime time competition — though I suspect promoters will salivate at his name value — but as long as he’s not currently getting drunk every night, I think that’s a very positive step. Let’s hope it’s just the first of many.

Esoteric

One Comment

  1. “I’ve never quite seen the charm of MMA compared to boxing’s inherent skill level, pacing, history and drama.”

    i cant argue with the overall lack of history for mma, and dana white buying all the competition doesn’t help things either.

    however, watching a couple of brazilian jiu jitsu black belts try to gain the advantage is like what i imagine watching bobby fischer play boris spassky would look like (if they had the ability to dislocate joints, break bones, or choke out their opponent at any given time).

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