It was recently revealed that Manny Pacquiao has been signed up by a leading UK Darts promoter to launch his own brand of darts and accessories. There is also truth in the rumour that Pac Man himself plans to make target practice of Shane Mosley when they square off at the MGM in Las Vegas this weekend.
Pacquiao has been hitting the bullseye regularly in the three years since squeaking a decision over stalker Juan Manuel Marquez and his dominant performance against Margarito last time was confirmation of his position within the sport. Right now in boxing, nobody does it better. A strong favourite again at 1.15, Pacquiao is not just expected to win and entertain but if you believe the markets, become the first fighter to stop Shane Mosley.
There is no doubt that Mosley 8.2 has been fraying round the edges for a few years now and it appears that he is close to the end of a terrific career. If you judge 'Sugar Shane' on recent performances alone then he appears there for the taking and a Pacquiao win by KO/TKO/DQ at 1.81 seems likely. Indeed, since pushing Cotto close in 2007, Mosley has often looked on the way out. He was listless and spent until unleashing a last minute left hook to flatten Ricardo Mayorga on his next outing and in two fights last year he was completely dominated by Mayweather in every round bar a minute of the second before scrambling a draw against the less than stellar Sergio Mora.
It is possible that Mosley couldn't stir himself for Mora (though he's such a pro and that would be a surprise) while suffering to Mayweather is no disgrace. And fans will point to his ninth round thumping of Margarito in early 2009 as evidence that Sugar still can be sweet. That peak in a plateau of diminishing sparkle is a serious worry, though when you consider Mosley's ability to withstand the whirlwind that is Manny Pacquiao. Amazing as it is to consider, the fighters made their respective debuts just two years apart but while Mosley is achingly close to forty, Pacquiao appears at the height of his powers.
Those banking on a Pac Man early finish should recall he has gone the distance in each of his last two bouts. following that four-fight blitz featuring spectacular wins over Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto. However, Joshua Clottey fought out of a defensive shell with little intention to win and the referee probably should have prevented an insanely brave Margarito hearing the final bell in those decisive points wins of last year. Pacquiao has the style to give Mosley serious problems and if Shane is indeed at the end, it could be a painful one.
It is potentially significant that Mosley is a fighter who stands in front of his opponent, relying more on reflexes and counter-punching rather than movement to avoid punishment. He's always been very good at it too. But there was compelling evidence in the defeat to Mayweather to suggest those skills have dulled and importantly, Mosley couldn't or wouldn't throw enough in return. Part of his defence was always his counter attack but, if he can't pull that trigger, standing in front of Pacquiao will be a lonely place on fight night. Mayweather allowed Mosley the breathing space to see out the finish but Pacquiao will not be so accommodating.
Despite all the apparent evidence though, I am inclined to think there has been a slight over-reaction in the stoppage market. Having fought bigger men for much of the last decade, Mosley is used to dealing with pressure and has always been a tough dude to topple. Behind the sparkling smile, he's a ferocious competitor and, granted this one last big tilt at the moon, he might just have a final effort in him. Not so much that he can beat or even trouble Pacquiao, but enough to be competitive to the end.
Pac Man to win by Dec/TD at (3.0) certainly appeals, provided Mosley isn't indeed the shadow of himself he hints at being. Let's hope he can still smile with pride through defeat when the bell finally tolls this weekend. His career and his character deserve at least that.
Pacquiao by Dec/TD 2PTS WIN x 3.0 (0-10)
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