The magic number in sports these days is 40. And I’m talking about age here. It seems anytime a professional athlete hits the big four-oh, fans believe he or she has suddenly lost it overnight. But that’s definitely not the case. There have been some excellent athletes who played at a high level in professional sports well into their 40s.
These include 50-year-old English soccer player Sir Stanley Matthews, 52-year-old hockey great Gordie Howe, and 48-year-old NHL hockey all-star Chris Chelios. In fact, these are just a few examples. There are dozens more who were still more than competitive after turning 40.
And what about boxing? Let’s see, there are George Foreman, Archie Moore, Evander Holyfield, Saul Mamby, Roberto Duran, Hector Camacho, Sugar Ray Leonard and Tommy Hearns. Granted, some of these guys slipped quite a bit as they got older, but in the old days it was common for fighters to keep going well into their 40s.
Even as recently as last week we saw a prime example of this as Bernard Hopkins took on 28-year-old Jean Pascal for the WBC Light Heavyweight Championship and millions of fans, plus Hopkins, were crying in their beer after he didn’t get the decision. Well, if you were one of them, I don’t see how you can say the upcoming Manny Pacquiao vs Shane Mosley fight is the huge mismatch that I keep hearing it is -- especially since Mosley’s only 39. Also, Mosley's quite a bit bigger than Pacquiao in all areas except forearm, wrist, and calf.
Mosley (46-6-1, 39 KOs) always comes into his fights in excellent condition, has never taken a beating in his career and has never been stopped. Also, let’s not forget he staggered Floyd Mayweather in the second round of their fight and might have inflicted more damage if he just followed up on it. And what about the beating he laid on Antonio Margarito? He tore him to pieces in the ninth round while Margarito took Pacquiao the distance.
The talk of a bloodbath and serious ass-kicking for Mosley seems a little ridiculous at this point. Sure, he might end up getting beat around the ring by the 32-year-old Pacquiao, but if he does, I don’t think it’s due to his age. It’ll simply be because Pacquiao’s the better fighter and has the style to beat him.
I don’t blame Pacquiao for taking a fight against Mosley since he’s still dangerous enough and has drawing power. It’s always a huge risk fighting a boxer of Mosley’s age in case you lose because your credibility then comes into question after being beaten by a (near) 40 year old.
If you’re going to spend three or four months of your life training and then laying your life on the line by stepping into the ring, Pacquiao may as well get paid well for it. A fight against Andre Berto wouldn’t generate as much interest and money and since Pacquiao doesn’t have a reputation for ducking anybody a fight could still be worked out with Juan Manuel Marquez later in the year.
The Hopkins vs. Pascal fight should silence the critics and Pacquiao detractors on this one and the timing of that bout couldn’t have been better for Pacquiao and his fans.