Monday, January 3, 2011

Pacquiao vs. Mosley/ Marquez vs. Morales: Acceptance of the unacceptable

There isn’t much to get excited about in the early days of 2011; Timothy Bradley vs Devon Alexander and Fernando Montiel vs Nonito Donaire are two that spring to mind, initially. A few other fights that are 90% done deals but don’t exactly stir up much enthusiasm are Manny Pacquiao vs Shane Mosley (in May) and Juan Manuel Marquez vs Erik Morales (possibly in April).

Both fights are seen as mismatches that are driven more by politics rather than to actually please the paying fans. Let’s take a look at both fights and weigh up the positive and negative in each. After all, we as fans soon get over the initial disappointment when such fights are first announced and eventually accept what we are given. Without too many fights to look forward to (obviously this will change as the year goes on) we may as well try and make the most of what is on offer.

Pacquiao vs. Mosley

Almost everybody protested against this fight when Bob Arum first banded around Mosley’s name as a possible opponent for Manny in 2011. And for good reason. But it just goes to show how little respect fight promoters actually have for the paying fans when such protests are completely ignored and the fight gets made anyway. I don’t know anyone that endorsed this fight, certainly from a fan’s perspective. Most experts were vocal against it happening. Surely, anyone with half a brain and a good eye for boxing couldn’t see the logic in it.

Still, Bob Arum knows best and it gets signed. What’s even more disturbing is that, despite all the controversy, fans will flock in droves to see it live and pay a fortune to watch the broadcast via Pay Per View. And I will be one of the guilty parties, because as I said above; we soon get over our initial misgivings and accept what is frankly unacceptable.
OK then, onto the fight itself. Some people appear to be rationalising this match up using the classic ‘styles make fights’ adage, but what can Mosley actually bring to the table? It’s no secret that he hasn’t really earned the right to fight the P4P #1. Let’s quickly look at his two prior performances.

The showing against Mayweather was particularly frustrating to watch. Finding success with his hard right hand in round 2, Sugar Shane looked to be on his way to a massive upset and possibly handing Floyd his first defeat. But it was not to be.
For reasons unknown to me (and reasons undisclosed by Mosley in post fight interviews) he simply clammed up and refused to follow through with anything. This enabled Mayweather to regain composure and alas the total momentum of the fight. Shane danced, jigged and feinted alot but failed to actually throw anything meaningful for the remaining 10 rounds and was completely outboxed by the superb Mayweather. It was a masterclass by Money and a disaster on the part of Mosley.

In Shane’s next outing against Sergio Mora, his dire performance against an opponent who is hard to look good against anyway, resulted in the assumption that “Mosley is shot”.

A draw in a poor fight (that many had Mora winning) after the one sided loss to Mayweather was enough for people to write Sugar Shane off. But in the hard-to-figure-out world of boxing politics, this apparently was adequate to win a shot against the formidable Pac-man.

Undefeated WBC Welterweight champ Andre Berto was considered by alot of fight fans as the most legitimate opponent for Pacquiao. In all likelihood that fight would probably be one sided too. But at least there is the sense of genuine danger against a young, unbeaten lion. And it would be a more credible win for Pac-man; a great one for his latter career resume.
It’s hard to imagine Mosley having enough to beat Pacquiao. Sure, his power is still there- as witnessed when he stunned Floyd with that right hand- but will he land it effectively? Manny isn’t that hard to hit, so in the early rounds Shane may be able to stun Pacquiao. The danger of getting sparked is there for anyone ready to mix it up with Mosley. But as much as the styles of these two might go well together, does the Mosley of 2011 really have the same combat effectiveness that his style presented several years ago? Wishful thinking has many fans predicting fireworks on May 7th, but the probability of a one sided beating is pretty high. Can Pacquiao be the first to stop Mosley? Who knows? It’s just a shame that now we will have months of debate and anticipation for what is essentially an unacceptable match up.

Marquez vs. Morales

If you’d have seen these two names together several years ago it would have got a huge reception from the fans. Morales is one of the greatest Mexican warriors to lace up the gloves and Marquez is up on the same plateau with him. Both have given so much to the sport with a good number of ‘fights of the year’ (or candidates for ‘fight of the year)’ between them.

Without a doubt, two of the most exciting pugilists in the last decade of boxing and future Hall of Famers, the word legendary is entirely appropriate for both men.

But, it’s now the year 2011 and this fight is announced? It’s hard not to feel disappointed. Morales looked definitively shot in his third and final outing against Manny Pacquiao back in 2006. Giving a great, almost swan-song like performance when he first defeated Pac-man in 2005, then suffering his first knockout in the 2006 rematch, the rubber match was only going to go one way. Who can forget that utterly defeated look Morales gave to his corner when he sat on the canvas and allowed the ref to count him out?

It was the look of someone who realised they were done and just wanted to be over with it. Fast forward to 2010 and El Terrible makes a solid but unspectacular comeback. Flashes of his old brilliance were there against undeniably sub-par opposition (relative to his former greatness of course), and have paved the way for this long awaited, but poorly timed match-up.

Marquez has looked excellent recently and is still top 3 pound for pound material at the battle-worn age of 37. Which is where this fight becomes an issue. With several dangerous opponents lurking in the sidelines for Dinamita, it is seen as a cynical money making ploy to exploit the younger but more worn Morales. With still unconquered foes in the lightweight division of which he is the lineal champion, it seems we are being cheated by this mismatch. It’s hard to complain when both men have earned the right to ‘take it easy’ in the twilight years of their career. After all, when they’ve fought through as many gruelling battles as they have for our entertainment, who can deny them a big payday to fight each other at this late stage?
Wishful thinking again; some fans believe Morales will dig into the tank for one last gutsy performance and at least give a competitive fight against his fellow countryman. Most people believe though, realistically, Marquez has too much skill for the aged Morales and will outbox him to a comfortable win, maybe a late stoppage. The style match up of these two greats on paper is brilliant......about 5 or 6 years ago. Now it’s just another unacceptable fight that we will all end up exchanging views and opinions over in the lead up to it.

Both the above fights have the slim potential to be good battles. After all, anything is possible in boxing. But, the realistic facts of the match-ups will keep us grounded until fight night, where we will watch and hope for the unexpected, once again praying that our beloved sport can surprise us and justify the money we will no doubt part with en route to seeing these fights.

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