By Nick Tylwalk
First, some disclosure: My time as a really hardcore boxing fan dates back only a little more than a decade, and because of their successes during that time, Manny Pacquiao and Shane Mosley are my two favorite active boxers.
Pacquiao was probably an inevitable choice since I am part Filipino. I'm not as certain why I first started taking a liking to Mosley, but I know I admired the flashy combination punching he displayed while devastating other lightweights in 1998-99 and the classy way he always seemed to carry himself outside the ring.
So this should be the fight I've always dreamed of seeing. And it would be... if it happened several years ago. Early 2007 would have been the perfect time for it, with Pacquiao coming off his three-round blitzkrieg of Erik Morales in their rubber match and Mosley feeling great after stopping Fernando Vargas two fights in a row.
Of course the idea of matching Pac-Man and Sugar Shane would have been laughable with the former fighting at 130 pounds and the latter competing at 154. It's only been in the last three years, with Pacquiao making something of a mockery of boxing's weight divisions, that this fight became a possibility.
But it is what it is, and I'm left with much the same questions as every other fan. None of them are about Pacquiao; Reports are that he had a great camp, and he should look like the same whirling dervish of destruction we've seen since he battered Oscar De La Hoya at the end of 2008.
No, the doubts are all about which Mosley we'll see. Many are afraid it will be the version that barely laid a glove on Floyd Mayweather after stunning him in Round 2, then stunk up the joint in a draw with Sergio Mora.
Trainer Naazim Richardson thinks it will be the one that shocked skeptics by taking apart Antonio Margarito when the Tijuana Tornado seemed to be at the height of his powers. That Mosley possesses the kind of boxing skills that Pacquiao hasn't seen since his battles with Juan Manuel Marquez (discounting De La Hoya, whose battle to cut weight meant that he was not himself) and still has dangerous speed and power even at age 39.
I want the best Sugar Shane to show up, because we'd be in for a treat. He'd be the biggest test for Manny in years, and the fight would likely be a thriller. Expecting that just seems like a step too far to me.
The faded Mosley could still pose a threat as a single shot puncher, with the assumption that he'd find Pacquiao a few more times than he caught Mayweather. Since both men have good chins and Shane has never been knocked out, it's likely he'd pose that threat for 12 rounds.
It seems I've talked myself into Shane having a little less frustration but taking a little more pounding than he did facing Mayweather. Manny's hand and foot speed proves the difference, as usual, and though he works for the KO, he finds the Sugar man too sturdy for that. Pacquiao wins by fairly comfortable unanimous decision.
Just quick picks for the undercard bouts. Assuming he's even half over his personal trouble and still hits as hard at 168 as he did at 160, I like Kelly Pavlik over Alfonso Lopez by late round TKO. And in a fight that hopefully will get anyone who shows up early out of their seats, I'll take Wilfredo Vazquez to stop Jorge Arce late.
Get more great previews, recaps and analysis over at Boxing Watchers.