Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Opinion: Mayweather - Mosley

May 2 sees pound for pound kings and certain hall of famers Floyd “Money” Mayweather and “Sugar” Shane Mosley collide at the MGM Grand. This fight has been brewing since Mosley was lightweight champ and Mayweather ruled 130 over a decade ago. All in all Mayweather has collected six titles in five division whilst Mosley has amassed five in three. Although undefeated, Mayweather has never faced anybody of the calibre of Mosley, has ducked most of the tough welterweights and, in reality, cherry picked smaller opponents. With Mosley at $4.20 at the TAB, I don’t think people are really embracing how much of a close contest this will be. This sentiment was echoed by hall of fame trainer Emanuel Steward and was bound to rub flomos and gayweathers the wrong way.

Mayweather last fought in September ’09, when he straight outclassed Juan Manuel Marquez. Although dominating technically, Money May was the far larger fighter and refused to come in under the weight limit. The bout marked the return of Mayweather since he retired at the end of 2007 and he certainly made a statement to the boxing community. A massive underdog, Mosley jacked Antonio Margarito for his title on the way to a 9th round stoppage in January ’09, sending a shockwave through the division. At 38 years old, time is fast running out for Mosley and there are questions on whether he can still pull the trigger for his biggest bout to date.


If boxing is to be defined as a system of self defence or martial art, then Floyd “Money” Mayweather is the square root of that. The best defensive fighter since Pernell Whitakker, Mayweather has the speed, movement and timing to turn defence into offence. He has only touched down once (unofficially against Judah) and his speed, especially, is blistering. Although guys like Judah and De La Hoya have done well, Mayweather is simply quicker than anyone he has ever faced.

In December ‘07, Mayweather came up against undefeated junior-welterweight champ Ricky Hatton. Although this was fought at 147, Mayweather made Hatton look crude before depositing him on the canvas with a sweet check hook. With this timing and defensive acumen, Mayweather’s awkward style has been too much for everyone he has faced. Mosley doesn’t always cope well with guys who can move and Money has more moves than a bowl of jello.

What ties this all together is his psychological warfare. Mayweather talks so much smack before a fight that he steps across the line. Habitually. He’s a habitual line stepper. By the time the bout rolls around, his opponents are usually so eager to shut him up that they wade into any of the great counters that he has used the bout to set up.

For an undefeated fighter who is ranked, by some, as the best pound for pound fighter in the world, Floyd Mayweather sure hasn’t fought many good welterweights. Of his six fights at 147:

Sharmbra Mitchell - Moved up from 140 and no really notable wins.
Zab Judah - Was a great win against a legitimate welterweight, not a great welterweight.
Carlos Baldomir - Already had nine losses (and six draws) when he fought Mayweather.
De La Hoya - Was actually at 154, however Mayweather only won a split decision against a guy more thoroughly dominated by Mosley.
Hatton - Although unbeaten, was a blown up 140 pounder with a suspect chin.
Marquez’s best weight is easily 130 and he was forced to fight at 144. Mayweather came in two pounds over despite only have to drop three.

So Mayweather only has a single win against a naturally larger foe and has generally avoided the toughest fighters until they are deemed “safe enough” for him to face. De La Hoya (who is 5’11’’) utilised his jab and gave Mayweather all he could handle. Mosley comes with a far better arsenal than De La Hoya and is in far better condition than Oscar was when he fought Floyd. Judah won a good portion of the first few rounds using speed and a good jab. Sugar Shane has mo’ speed than a stripper and jabs well when he chooses to shift into boxer mode.


A power-boxer, Mosley combines equal parts speed and power with silky skills. Whether it be stopping the iron-chinned Antonio Margarito or just straight shutting a guy out, as he almost did to Luis Collazo, Sugar Shane has the goods. He can punch in combinations smoothly one second and separate you from your senses with precision like accuracy the next. This unique skill set has allowed him the advantage of being able to transition between being a boxer or a puncher, as he showed in the two De La Hoya bouts.

Sugar Shane is a warrior. Period. He fights everyone. When no one would go near the Vernon Forrest, who did? Mosley. Forget that he lost (twice), he was the welterweight champ and was out to fight the toughest opposition out there. Ditto Winky Wright at junior-middleweight. Of Mosley’s five losses, four have come against these two naturally larger foe. His other loss, against Cotto, was when Sugar Shane was on the eve of a divorce. Don’t get me wrong, Cotto fought a great fight, but even with those negative external factors Cotto only won by 115-113 on two of the cards. After Margarito straight beat Cotto up and generally put fear into the division, who was the first guy to put his name on the dotted line – Sugar Shane. That’s right, bitch. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that Mosley has fought the best guys at welterweight since he first beat De La Hoya in 2000.

Mosley also has that innate ability all greats have in being able to step up a gear when it is needed. Sugar Shane can often surge during the later rounds as he did in the bouts with De La Hoya, in stopping Mayorga and Cotto was only just able to hold him off. I once heard that big players made big plays in big games, and this is certainly true of Mosley. In fact, the tougher the challenge, the more he rises. How else can you explain him having a difficult time with guys like Mayorga and Vargas and dominating Collazo, Margarito and DLH?

Although a great boxer at 135, age and a rise in weight has seen Mosley becoming more of a puncher. Sometimes unneccessarily. For a period of time, Sugar Shane’s jab all but disappeared from his arsenal as he looked to land left hooks and overhand rights. He can’t afford to be sloppy at all against Mayweather, who will make you pay for every mistake. He also needs the jab to be in full effect.

At 38 years of age, there also must be some questions about how many more big fights Mosley has in him. True, he totally decimated Margarito, but he didn’t look great in stopping Mayorga and had been decisioned by Cotto the fight before that. The Margarito bout was 15 months ago and, although Shane is always in shape, he can’t afford to let ring rust (a factor that could be compouned by age) affect him.

Sugar Shane can also have problems with boxers who move and have a great jab or have awkward styles. Forrest used that big strong jab and strength on the inside to bully Mosley, whilst Wright’s defence gave Sugar Shane fits. Hell, he was only just up on the scorecards at the time of the Mayorga stoppage. Mayweather has far better defence than Winky Wright and is far more awkward than Mayorga.

Money is one of the best fighters of this generation, his outstanding skills coupled with a great mind has meant that he has been able to be triumphant over every foe he has ever faced professionally. The big variable here is the fact that he just hasn’t fought anyone of quality his own size or larger. Sugar Shane, on the other hand, and although he has losses, has faced some of the best competition in the world at welter for the last decade. This is about as close as it is going to get and I wouldn’t be all that surprised at a draw but……

….Sugar Shane ftw (decision).

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Opinion: Pavlik - Martinez

It’s about time. The first quarter of 2010 has been a relative grindfest as far as competitive fights go. In fact, the super six tournament aside, there has hardly been any pure contests. Thank L Ron. for Pavlik-Martinez.

This Sunday we see the middleweight king Kelly Pavlik, square off against the #1 ranked junior-middleweight Sergio Martinez. Fought at 160, this will be Pavlik’s fourth defence of his lineal World Middleweight crown.

The last we saw Pavlik was in crushing overmatched Miguel Angel Espino and this bout would be his first real contest since he was battered from post to post by Bernard Hopkins in a catchweight bout in October 2008. “The Ghost” recently had a ten month layoff to recover from a staph infection in his knuckle which threatened his career and “forced” him to pull out of two proposed bouts with Paul Williams. Strangely enough, the man who replaced Pavlik in the second proposed Williams bout will be the man facing him Sunday. In December, Martinez was unfortunate to receive narrow majority decision loss to Paul Williams in a ‘fight of the year’ candidate. This loss did nothing to drop Martinez’s stock however, as he gave as good as he got and managed to drop Williams hard in the first round.

Pavlik, who is 6-foot-2, is the naturally bigger and stronger fighter compared to the 5-11 Martinez, 34, who is a southpaw and faster. This bout sees a classic style matchup with puncher-boxer Pavlik and boxer-puncher Martinez.

KELLY PAVLIK (36-1, 32 KO)

At 6’2’’, Pavlik is a tall middleweight. He utilises his height and massive 75-inch reach well and throws mostly straight shots. He has a clear 3-inch height advantage over Martinez and should look to keep him on the end of that rattling jab.

You better pack a lunch, cause Pavlik will drop the one-two all day. Although mechanical, his right is an authentic show-stopper. By being adept at the most basic fundamentals of the sweet scientce he was able to pulverise the then undefeated Jermain Taylor to relieve him of his title and forced the corner of, the normally undentable, Marco Antonio Rubio to throw in the towel after 9. He also blasted the dangerous and exciting Edison Miranda in 7, barely losing a round. Pavlik has world class power at 160 and it will be interesting to see how Martinez will react.

Pavlik only really comes at you one way, he stands right in front of you and throws straight shots to the dome. For all of Pavlik’s power, it must be noted that his punches can be seen by smoke signal. This lack of hand speed may hurt him against the quicker Martinez. I think it is also safe to say that Pavlik won’t be making a cameo on ‘Dancing with the Stars’ as he has genuine “white people feet” and can be plodding. I mean, really, how many (straight) white dudes can dance?

The Hopkins fight also showed us that it is possible for Pavlik to be bullied. Hopkins continually had Pavlik on the back foot where “The Ghost” could not uncork the one-two. By continually giving Pavlik angles and moving to his right, Hopkins also took away the right hand. Martinez certainly has the movement to give Pavlik all kinds of trouble but whether he can back him remains to be seen.

Sergio Martinez (44-2-2, 24 KO)

Martinez is a terrifically skilled guy who is fast and tough. He proved against Williams that he could compete against the most avoided fighter in the sport and was terribly unlucky in losing the decision. Martinez’s main strength is his speed, footwork and southpaw style. If he is able to frustrate Pavlik early and take the fight to him, then he may be able to unsettle him.

Although not a heavy puncher, Martinez sat down on his punches during the Williams fight and seriously hurt him in the first round. That is quite a feat from such a seemingly feather-fisted guy. Remember, Jermain Taylor had Pavlik down.

There must be concerns regarding Martinez’s chin. He was stopped by Margarito at 147 and put down by Williams at 160. Although they are both big punchers, both are naturally larger welters who, because of their size, are able to jump up classes with relative ease. Martinez has never caught wreck from a naturally larger fighter and Pavlik has the boom to keep him down.

Keeping with the issue of size, Martinez does not have the strength to be able to push Pavlik back. His fight with “The Punisher” was also at 160 however, as previously stated, P-Will is a natural welter. Pavlik is a full sized middleweight at 6’2’’ whilst Martinez is a fairly average 154-pounder at 5’11’’.

Coupled with this natural disadvantage is the fact that Martinez is all of 35 years old. This is very much a “do or die” fight against his 28 year old opponent. Pavlik also, has seen criticisms over his last couple of performances and will be hungry to put on a dominant performance.

Although Williams-Martinez was a terrific stoush, the style match up with Pavlik just seems too difficult. He is coming in against a larger, younger, more powerful opponent and I just don’t think Martinez will be able to back him up. He should frustrate Pavlik with his movement but I think “The Ghost” needs this more. Even when he was losing with Hopkins, Pavlik never stopped trying and he is bound to catch Martinez.

Pavlik KO10