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.
FLOYD “MONEY” MAYWEATHER (40-0, 25 KOs)
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.
“SUGAR” SHANE MOSLEY (49-5, 39 KOs)
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).