Even amid slump, trainer insists Mosley still a handful
By Lyle Fitzsimmons,
Contributing Boxing Editor
Ocala, FL (Sports Network) -
Twenty-six years ago, the mindset was crystallized by Sylvester Stallone.
"Maybe the only thing I can do is just take everything he's got," the actor said, as the signature character in Rocky IV, prepping to meet the indomitable Ivan Drago.
"But to beat me he's gonna have to kill me, and to kill me he's gotta have the guts to stand in front of me, and to do that he's gotta be willin' to die himself."
In 2011, as he readies 39-year-old Shane Mosley for pound-for-pound whirling dervish Manny Pacquiao, trainer Naazim Richardson is more succinct -- but no less certain.
That the 32-year-old Pacquiao -- a champion in seven weight classes between 112 and 154 pounds -- is capable of bringing it seems a certainty, given his 13-fight win streak since 2005, possession of the WBO's welterweight title belt and nearly universal acclaim as the world's top fighter.
According to lines posted by World Sports Exchange Manny Pacquiao, left, is a 4-to-7 favorite to win by knockout over Shane Mosley.
What's up for debate is whether Mosley -- who'll be 27 months and 14 days past his last victory come Saturday night's opening bell -- can provide more than token resistance when the onslaught begins.
Odds-makers say no.
According to lines posted by World Sports Exchange (wsex.com), Pacquiao is a 4-to-7 favorite to win by knockout, TKO or disqualification, and a 9-to-5 choice to win by decision.
Mosley, meanwhile, is 9-to-1 to win inside the distance and 16-to-1 to do it via scorecards.
But Richardson, the soft-spoken guru who's helped Bernard Hopkins remain a viable player on the world stage well into his 40s, is un-swayed by public opinion.
In fact, he seems to revel in his man's role as the underdog.
"When Sugar Shane Mosley scores this incredible victory over Manny Pacquiao, I don't want Manny to be de-clawed or de-fanged," he said. "I don't want people to reduce Manny into distraction. I don't want to hear that Manny is only two inches tall and weighs 32 ounces.
"I don't want to hear any of these things that I've heard. They say he's a killer and the most monstrous fighter out there today, so Shane should get his full amount of due when he pulls this victory off."
With recent past as prologue, it's not hard to cast Richardson as hyperbolic.
Pacquiao is unbeaten in four fights at welterweight and beyond, having done a trauma-inducing number on past division kingpins Oscar De La Hoya (TKO 9), Miguel Cotto (TKO 12), Joshua Clottey (UD 12) and Antonio Margarito (UD 12) since late 2008.
Contrarily, Mosley sleepwalked to a 12-round draw with Contender alumnus Sergio Mora in his last fight eight months ago, and, four months previous, lost 11 of 12 rounds in a long-awaited showdown with then-active pound-for- pound claimant Floyd Mayweather Jr.
His most recent success came back in January 2009 against Margarito, who -- as the reigning WBA champion at 147 -- entered their fight as a 5-to-1 favorite amid talk that Mosley, then 37 and a winner just once in the previous 23 months, was already overdue for retirement.
Nine rounds later, Richardson had the evidence he's leaning on once again.
"Anyone or anything that Shane can hit, he will hurt," he said. "Pacquiao is not just a guy off the streets. He is a legendary athlete. The last fighter I saw like Pacquiao was Aaron Pryor.
"But he's never been hit by anybody like Shane."
The Pacquiao-Mosley fight is the crown jewel of a Showtime pay-per-view offering from the MGM Grand in Las Vegas that will also include a WBO junior featherweight title defense for champion Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. against Jorge Arce, along with bouts featuring unbeaten junior welterweight Mike Alvarado and returning former middleweight champ Kelly Pavlik.
Suggested retail price is $54.95 both for the traditional TV broadcast and the online stream that'll be available at toprank.tv, sports.SHO.com, cbs.com and sports.yahoo.com.
The announce team will include host James Brown, play-by-play man Gus Johnson, analysts Al Bernstein and Antonio Tarver and ringside reporter Jim Gray.
"(Pacquiao) still attacks. He will get hit with right hands from time to time," Bernstein said. "And Shane Mosley makes the case that Antonio Margarito landed more punches in the last fight than anyone else has in the last three or four years. And his point is that if Antonio Margarito can land those punches, I have better hand speed. And at 39 he probably does have better hand speed.
"His feeling is that he can still land punches and make them count. I think we're going to find out about this fight over the first five or six rounds because Shane Mosley is going to land a solid right hand. And we're going to see if it impacts Pacquiao."
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TV TOPICS (Some fights may not be televised)
ESPN -- Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, Nev. Diego Magdaleno (18-0) vs. Gilberto Leon (31-8-2) -- 10, junior lightweights
TeleFutura -- Fantasy Springs Casino, Indio, Calif. Librado Andrade (29-3) vs. Aaron Pryor Jr. (15-3)
Showtime PPV -- MGM Grand, Las Vegas, Nev. Manny Pacquiao (52-3-2) vs. Shane Mosley (46-6-1) -- 12, WBO welterweight title Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. (20-0-1) vs. Jorge Arce (56-6-2) -- 12, WBO junior featherweight title Mike Alvarado (29-0) vs. Ray Narh (25-1) -- 12, junior welterweights Kelly Pavlik (36-2) vs. Alfonso Lopez (21-0) -- 10, super middleweights
Lyle Fitzsimmons is a veteran sports columnist who's written professionally since 1988 and covered boxing since 1995. His work is published in print and posted online for clients in North America and Europe. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter.