By Conor Ward – Well, another night of top class boxing action from Las Vegas awaits us, and if yesterday’s weigh-in at the MGM Grand was anything to go by, this fight is certainly being hotly anticipated by fight fans, thousands of whom filled the arena to witness the two boxers take to the scales. Both of them looked calm and relaxed, ready to do the business they do best, and of course showing off ripped midsections. “Sugar” Shane Mosley tipped the scales at the welterweight limit of 147lbs while Floyd “Money” Mayweather came in a pound under at 146lbs. Clearly, weeks and months of hard graft away from the spotlight have paid off. Whoever comes up short tonight, it won’t be for a lack of preparation..
This is an intriguing battle, one which has provoked a great variety of opinion and debate in the build-up. It’s not quite Mayweather-Pacquiao, with all the expectation, excitement and razzmatazz that would go with that. But for hardcore boxing fans it’s not far off, with two proud and experienced warriors ready to go at it, and massive connotations in terms of pride and legacy for both men transcending the absence of an actual world title being up for grabs. And it has the possibility of going either way.
But with all that said, the central question remains the same – Who can beat Floyd Mayweather Jr.? Is Shane Mosley the man to do it? He certainly seems to believe that he is, and that’s not a bad place to start.
Most of Floyd’s previous opponents have not even come within a ballpark (or a casino!) of scuppering his perfect professional record. Sugar Shane Mosley presents easily one of the greatest, if not the greatest challenge, of Floyd’s entire career.
Shane is a genuinely big strong welterweight. He’s experienced, tough, durable, fast and skilful. Even at the ripe old age of 38, he’s in tremendous physical shape, ready to give his all in pursuit of victory, and possessing a quiet but steely confidence.
Indeed, a lot has been made of Shane’s advantage in terms of power, and with a big knockout percentage behind him, it’s hard to argue with that. He can produce big telling blows which would damage any opponent in the division. But can he find Floyd Mayweather with those shots? It’s a task which has proved virtually impossible for most opponents of the unequalled defensive master.
Shane, of course, is coming off the back of a highly impressive TKO victory over Mexican hardman Antonio Margarito, a stunning performance which made everyone in the sport sit up and take notice. After being largely written off, he showed that he’s made of the right stuff. All of 15 months on from that, however, he needs to improve again on that display if he’s to hand Floyd his first loss.
The clash of styles adds intrigue to this encounter. While Shane does seem to carry more power and possesses greater physical presence, that advantage is balanced out by Floyd’s defensive brilliance, superb ring generalship and tactical nous. Both are possessed of terrific hand speed, though again, I give Floyd the edge in that department. Shane has said that he’s looking for a knockout, but was honest enough to admit that he’d be surprised to get it.
The body language of the fighters as they enter the ring will also be interesting to observe. It’s hard to picture Floyd being anything but his usual calm and composed self as the opening bell approaches. With all Shane’s big fight experience, he shouldn’t suffer too badly from nerves either, though he tends to be that bit more tense in terms of his fighting style. Floyd’s ability to stay loose and relaxed in the heat of battle usually allows him to bank on reserves of energy later on in proceedings.
There does seem to be some real animosity between this pair, going back quite a few years, with arguments about one or other ducking the match-up at different stages in their respective careers. But that’s all in the past now and the moment of truth has arrived, meaning there is massive pride at stake, even though a big fat cheque will doubtless soften the blow for the vanquished.
Their corners are both strong, but that should not actually be a massive factor on the night, as this will come down to how much boxing class and heart each guy can find within himself. Shane is fan-friendly fighter with bundles of heart and many will be rooting for an upset victory for him.
This does bring back memories of the classic all-American fights of the 1980s involving Hagler, Leonard and Hearns, so let’s hope to see a spectacle that stands up to that kind of comparison. On paper at least, it is easily the best fight this year.
But I personally just do not see the upset victory for Shane coming to pass. Expect a keenly contested tactical battle through the opening half of the fight, but after that Floyd’s skill and accuracy should see him take charge.
What I do see is Shane testing Floyd enough to make him dig deep and use all his boxing skills, all his knowhow and be prepared to go to war at close quarters if needs be.
Floyd to come through and win on points seems the only sensible prediction from where I stand. He will get a good tough competitive fight, maybe the toughest of his career, but he has always found the way to win and I don’t see why that should change tonight.
After widespread accusations of avoiding the top welterweights in the latter part of his career, Floyd has certainly stepped up for the challenge this time. We may see him produce a dazzling performance yielding a signature win which would silence quite a few doubters and greatly enhance his legacy.
So…Who are you picking? Looking forward to reading all comments