Right now, there’s nobody Manny Pacquiao (at left in the picture) can fight who would be expected to be competitive with the pound-for-pound king. Floyd Mayweather is clearly not interested in fighting Pacquiao, and might be in jail before long anyway. Everyone else Pacquiao could fight would be a substanial underdog. When a boxer is in that rare situation, picking his next opponent ought to be about who is most deserving and who can make him the most money.
By both standards, Pacquiao and his promoter Top Rank’s selection on Shane Mosley (at right in the picture) for Pacquiao’s May 7 opponent falls short of other options, and that makes it a disappointing choice.
Mosley got very, very old in 2010, when the 39-year-old twice ran out of gas in fights in a loss to Mayweather at welterweight and a draw with Sergio Mora at junior middleweight. Nothing in those fights indicated Mosley deserved a shot at Pacquiao. Top Rank’s Bob Arum claimed that Mosley “knows how to deal with the speed,” but against Mayweather and Mora, Mosley exhibited quite the opposite trait. Mosley argues that against an opponent who isn’t going to run from him or shy away from trading — like Pacquiao, unlike Mayweather and Mora — he has demonstrated his speed and power can do damage, as Mosley did against Antonio Margarito. Even then, Mosley hurt Mayweather in the 2nd round of their fight. But the Margarito fight will have been two years past by the time Mosley fights Pacquiao; and the assault on Mayweather now has the air of an old pro’s last gasp, because Mosley hasn’t looked good since that round.
Arum himself said following the Mora fight that Mosley didn’t deserve a fight against Pacquiao and wasn’t a boxer anyone wanted to see, but naturally he changed his mind the second Mosley fled Arum’s big promotional rival, Golden Boy.
Monetarily, contrary to Arum’s newfound claims, there is no indication that Mosley is a draw. His pay-per-view offering against Mora — where Mosley was the A-side, the star, even coming off a loss — sold in the small numbers. Mosley had earned the love of hardcore fans over the years for his willingness to fight anyone and his tendency to be in good scraps, but there are few to zero hardcore fans who are supportive of Pacquiao-Mosley. If Arum is hoping that Mosley’s name will ring a bell with casual fans, I think he’s going to be disappointed. When I’ve mentioned Mosley to my pals who don’t follow boxing regularly, I get a lot of blank stares in return.
The situation here is that Pacquiao is such a massive star right now that he can fight anyone and do good business. With Mosley unaligned with Golden Boy, Arum doesn’t have to worry about splitting up his own cash.
Juan Manuel Marquez was more deserving than Mosley, since Marquez has twice fought Pacquiao on even terms in a draw and close decision loss, and since Marquez is no worse than the third or fourth best fighter alive. Granted, he’s no welterweight — he’s the current lightweight champion and didn’t look great in a loss to Mayweather in the 147-pound division last year — but his credentials are impeccable. He also has a discernable fan base outside hardcore fans, i.e. his Mexican countrymen and their Mexican-American kin. Arum said Pacquiao was “offended” by Marquez’ monetary demands; if he was that’s weak sauce. Don’t be so sensitive, Manny! And Golden Boy had indicated that it was willing to negotiate on that offer, anyhow.
Andre Berto isn’t a draw, so he doesn’t bring much money, but he is more deserving than Mosley. He’s the #3-ranked welter according to Ring magazine, compared to Mosley’s #5 ranking. He’s fast and powerful, and also young and fresh at age 27, something that would make him unlike several recent Pacquiao opponents, which would present a more intriguing match-up. And apparently he didn’t ask for a big purse, so it’s hard to say whether he would have made Pacquiao more cash than Mosley under the “anybody Pacquiao fights will do big business” formulation.
Pacquiao could have done better. It’s sad that he didn’t.