By Nick Tylwalk
Manny "Pac-Man" Pacquiao
Birthplace: Kibawe, Philippines
Resides: General Santos City, Philippines
Height: 5' 6 1/2"
Current World Titles Held: WBO Welterweight (147 lbs.)
Former World Titles Held: WBC Light Middleweight (154 lbs.), Ring Magazine Junior Welterweight (140 lbs.), WBC Lightweight (135 lbs.), Ring Magazine, WBC Super Featherweight (130 lbs.), Ring Magazine Featherweight (126 lbs.), IBF Super Bantamweight (122 lbs.), WBC Flyweight (112 lbs.)
Professional Record: 52-3-2, 38 KOs
Record in World Title Fights: 12-1-2, 9 KOs
Record in Fights Going 12 Rounds: 5-1-1
Record at Welterweight: 3-0, 2 KOs
"Sugar" Shane Mosley
Birthplace: Lynwood, California
Resides: Pomona, California
Height: 5' 9"
Current World Titles Held: None
Former World Titles Held: WBC, WBA Light Middleweight, WBC, WBA Welterweight, IBF Lightweight
Professional Record: 46-6-1, 39 KOs
Record in World Title Fights: 15-5, 12 KOs
Record in Fights Going 12 Rounds: 5-6-1
Record at Welterweight: 10-4, 6 KOs
Despite being panned by plenty of boxing pundits and fans while in its planning stages, the big fight atmosphere befitting two multiple division world champions facing off is descending on the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. The world's pound-for-pound number one boxer and burgeoning global icon Manny Pacquiao puts his welterweight title on the line against Shane Mosley in a bout that would have been a dream match-up several years ago but now has its fair share of questions.
The doubts fall squarely on the shoulders of Mosley, who has earned the opportunity primarily on the strength of his name recognition and past accomplishments rather than his recent form. The 39-year old enters the contest winless in his previous two outings, getting outclassed by Floyd Mayweather in May of 2010 and fighting Sergio Mora to a lackluster draw four months later.
In contrast, Pacquiao has been cruising along, continuing to add wins and world titles to his resume while handling his new duties as a lawmaker in the Philippines. Pac-Man pummeled Antonio Margarito for 12 rounds while winning a lopsided decision last December, and his last loss (to Erik Morales over six years ago) is starting to feel like a lifetime ago.
Mosley's chances of pulling off the upset would probably be better if the whirlwind surrounding Pacquiao in his daily life had disturbed his training camp the way it did leading up to his fight with Margarito. But trainer Freddie Roach was uncharacteristically pleased with Manny's preparation, saying his man was as sharp as he's ever seen him.
Sugar Shane also has an excellent strategist in his corner in Naazim Richardson, who will hope to parlay Mosley's experience fighting many different types of opponents into a winning game plan. Mosley hits hard - he wobbled Mayweather with a right hand in the second round of their clash - but finding the openings to land his power shots without taking too many flush shots in return will be the tricky part.
The atmosphere for the fight may not be as raucous as some of Pacquiao's previous encounters with the likes of Ricky Hatton or Oscar De La Hoya, but there should still be plenty of electricity inside the MGM Grand. Taking a page from team sports, Pac-Man has asked all of his supporters to wear yellow as a symbol of his efforts to end Filipino poverty.
Pacquiao's Winning Strategy: Don't Take Unnecessary Chances
Pacquiao is a heavy favorite to win the fight, and for good reason. His hands are among the fastest in the business, he has power in both fists and his ring awareness has grown in leaps and bounds over the last decade or so.
Roach seems to have given Pac-Man the goal of knocking out Mosley, who has never been stopped in 53 pro bouts. Manny certainly has the tools to do it, but he runs the risk of suffering a stunning upset if he focuses on it too much.
Mosley is one of the biggest and strongest opponents Pacquiao has ever faced, and while his hand speed is clearly in decline, Mayweather can vouch for the fact that he still packs a wallop when he connects. Pacquiao can probably get away with standing in front of Mosley and winning exchanges, but why even take the chance?
As was the case against Margarito, Pacquiao's biggest weapon against Mosley is actually his foot speed. He should be able to close in quickly, get off first and escape to the back or side to lessen the chances of big return shots hitting him square.
And if the knockout comes, it comes.
Mosley's Winning Strategy: Attack the Body to Slow Down the Head
Unfortunately for Sugar Shane, there's no blueprint for beating Pac-Man because it hasn't been done for so long. On top of that, the fighter once known for throwing "punches in bunches" now fights in spurts and looks for single shots much more often than in his younger days.
Mosley does have a sizable reach advantage, but no one expects that he'll be able to win by boxing Pacquiao from the outside. Manny is simply too quick for that.
That means that Mosley's best chance will be to do the nearly unthinkable and knock Pacquiao out. He's got the power to do it, but slowing his opponent down will be critical.
A heavy dose of body shots may be just what the doctor ordered. Mosley credited his success in his stoppage of Margarito in 2009 to hurting him to the body early, and though Pacquiao is an entirely different monster, it's still a worthwhile strategy.
It won't be easy, but Pacquiao's torso is at least a bigger target than his head, and attacking it may be the best way to make him feel Mosley's power. If it makes Manny's feet even slightly more sluggish, it will help Sugar Shane swing for the fences later on.
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