Questions dog Mosley as May 7 showdown with Pacquiao nears
Shane Mosley is a significant underdog against Manny Pacquiao in their May 7 fight
Mosley is a future Hall of Famer, but he's coming off two lackluster performances
Kelly Pavlik will make his 168-pound debut on the undercard against Alfonso Lopez
The questions are the same, the phrasing and the people asking are the only things that vary.
Do you have the speed to hang with Manny Pacquiao, Shane?
Do you think you have to get to him early to have any shot at winning this fight?
Don't your recent snoozefests with Floyd Mayweather and Sergio Mora mean you have nothing left in the tank?
Shane Mosley hears these questions, absorbs them. They have been coming at him for nearly a year, ever since he was demolished by Mayweather last May and fought to an uninspired draw against Mora in September. He has answered them so many times his responses spill out with little hesitation.
"[The questions] give me a lot of motivation to overcome [them]." said Mosley, who will challenge Pacquiao on May 7 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. "I don't read too much into [them]. I don't care that people are saying I'm an underdog or not. What matters is what happens in the ring."
Mosley, of course, has accomplished a lot in the ring. He's a former three-division champion who has defeated Oscar De La Hoya (twice), Fernando Vargas (twice) and Antonio Margarito. In an era where ducking opponents has become a polished skill, Mosley has never shied away from anybody.
But Mosley was outclassed by Mayweather and flummoxed by the awkward style of Mora, leading many to conclude that his best days were behind him. Bob Arum might be one of them. It's been widely speculated that Arum, who was critical of Mosley while he was under contract with promotional rival Golden Boy, cherry-picked the 39-year-old Mosley from a pack of candidates because of his fast-fading skills.
"Most of you saw the Erik Morales [vs. Marcos Maidana] fight," said Mosley's trainer, Naazim Richardson. "And most of you saw the [Jean] Pascal-[Bernard] Hopkins fight. And we keep counting these guys out. These aren't just old men who box. These are legendary fighters who have age on them now. There's a difference between a legendary fighter who has age and an old boxer. These aren't just men. When these guys were in their prime, they were exceptional.
"Michael Jordan could probably still come out now and make the starting five on any team in the NBA. We discount these older guys, but we forget these were special guys. When special gets old, you can still be extraordinary."
Mosley has one strategy against Pacquiao: start throwing punches and don't stop. The best defense is a good offense, Mosley reasons, a strategy few fighters have employed against Pacquiao. Watching film of Pacquiao's previous opponents, Mosley noted that none of them were able to match their usual punch output.
"You have to land a lot of punches," Mosley said. "You have to land a high percentage and more every round. It's like when I fought Margarito; before he was throwing like 1,000 punches, but when I fought him he only threw 500. It's all the angles and the way you move and how you turn him to where you make him not throw as many punches."
Power, Richardson says, is another advantage for Mosley. Though Pacquiao has tangled with some heavy hitters such as Margarito, De La Hoya and Miguel Cotto, Richardson believes he's never been in the ring with someone with Mosley's pop.
"I said something to Shane the other day and I still hold firm with it, which was, 'You've never been hit by Shane Mosley,' " Richardson said. "You see, I've been hit more times by Shane Mosley than Shane Mosley has been hit. So Shane Mosley is quick to say this guy is a gladiator and this guy is going to fight me. But it doesn't matter. I have to prepare Shane Mosley for a defensive fighter with every man he faces, because if Shane hits you solid, you're going on the defensive. I don't care how much of a gladiator or how tough you were before, when Shane tags you, you'll be a defensive fighter. So he doesn't see it the way I see it. Pacquiao could become a defensive fighter in this fight, too."
Putting Pacquiao on his heels would be a rare sight. And few expect it. Top Rank has reportedly already opened a dialogue with Juan Manuel Marquez about possibly facing Pacquiao in the fall and virtually every expert is predicting a lopsided win. Mosley already turned back the clock on his career once when he battered Margarito. This will likely be his last chance to do it again.
"I have a lot of advantages over [Pacquiao]," Mosley said. "Now all I have to do is exploit his weaknesses. Once I exploit them, I should be able to take care of business."
Kelly Pavlik's battle with alcohol reached its breaking point last year, when a family intervention ended with the ex-middleweight champ spending 60 days in a California rehab facility. He says he has been sober for seven months and will make his return to the ring against Alfonso Lopez (21-0, 16 KOs) on the Pacquiao-Mosley undercard.
"Everything has fallen right back into place quickly," Pavlik said. "I kept myself in shape, too. The last time I had a year off, it was a different situation. There was a staph infection and then we had the reaction to it. I really wasn't able to do anything constantly being on antibiotics. That wasn't really a rest or my idea of taking a break or a year off.
"This time, it's totally different. I come back now and my energy level is just totally different than what it's been in the past. I'm able to do things in the gym now where before it was a struggle. Everything came back and it's been very fluent. Granted, in the first couple of times of sparring, some of the timing was off. But that's going to happen and there's nothing you can do about it. But it all came back pretty quick this time and everything is going good right now."