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Boxing: Mayweather-Mosley is the true superfight

May 1, 2010

Let’s get this out of the way first:  “Who R U Pickin” is a ridiculous name for Saturday night’s 147-pound showdown between former pound-for-pound king and hall-of-fame trash talker Floyd Mayweather and ageless, relentless welterweight legend Shane Mosley.

I mean, I get it. It’s a bout between two champions with impeccable credentials, one matchup that’s bound to elicit discussion, speculation and predictions from boxing fans everywhere, but it doesn’t capture what’s really at stake here.

If the folks at Golden Boy were that hard up for titles they should have just called me and I would have provided several options…for a small freelance fee (hey, the write game is a business just like the fight game).

Why not call it “Legends Collide” or “At Last” or ” Legacy”?

What’s wrong with “Pound for Pound,” or ” Who’s the Man?” or “Finally”?

Nothing.

But for one reason or another a spectacular matchup is saddled with a pedestrian title.

So who am I picking?

More on that later, but first let’s understand that Mayweather-Mosely is 2010’s superfight.

I know there still exist plenty of conspiracy theorist who still believe the whole Clottey-Pacquiao-Mayweather-Mosley series is really a glorified publicity tour designed to build interest in a Pacquaio-Mayweather/Mosley megafight later this year.

Problem with that theory is that these pesky facts keep undermining it.

It’s a fact, for example, that Manny Pacquiao isn’t interested in the USADA drug testing Mayweather and Mosley underwent on the way to this bout. So if Mayweather defeats Mosley, the disagreement over drug testing that derailed Mayweather and Pacquiao in December would once again stand in their way.

It’s also a fact that Mayweather has a rematch clause in his contract with Mosley. So if Mosley wins — and he has a chance, even at 38 — he and Mayweather will dance once more, a project that will tie both of them down until early 2011, leaving Pacquiao without a partner.

And finally it’s a fact that this bout is a stand-alone superfight, one that deserves headlines and will generate huge pay-per-view numbers even without the prospect of the winner facing Pacquiao. This is a fight hardcore boxing fans have visualized since before Pacquiao even won his first belt. And while it may only have come together because Mayweather-Pacquiao fell apart, this bout is much more than a consolation prize.

It’s a fight between Mayweather, an undefeated welterweight who claims he’s better than Ali and Sugar Ray Robinson and Mosley, the resurgent veteran who when speaking to “Fighting Words” in January made a logical case for why the road to the pound-for-pound crown goes through him.

In short, it’s the highest revenue, highest stakes and highest skill level fight we’re likely to see in a while, so we need to savour it.

So who am I picking?

It’s tough

Mosley’s 38, but as Chi Ali pointed out years ago — age ain’t nothin’ but a number.

Sugar Shane looked young and hungry in dismantling Antonio Margarito 15 months ago, and I’ve always thought that he, more than any other fighter, possessed the skill set to cause Mayweather big problems: long arms and a strong jab, an uncanny blend of speed and strength, and concussive punching power.

The problem for Mosley is that Mayweather is not Margarito.

We all know that styles make fights and that while Mosley looked spectacular against Margarito, a straight-forward slugger who showed little interest in defending himself, he has struggled against skilled boxers.

While we’re discussing facts, the fact is that Mosley has been outboxed not only by Winky Wright, which is understandable, but by Miguel Cotto, which was damn near unforeseeable.

So when I look at this fight I have to wonder how Mosley will deal with the smartest fighter of a generation, a guy with just as much speed as Mosley but with better footwork and defense, the skills to fight inside (ask Ricky Hatton) and the smarts to solve any fighter set in front of him.

A lot of observers point out that Mayweather has never faced an opponent with Mosley’s skills, strength and experience, and that’s true.

But neither has Mosley faced a fighter as savvy, as smart, and as surprisingly strong as Mayweather is.

We’ve seen how well Mayweather adjusts to bigger, stronger opponents — witness the boxing lesson he administered to Oscar De La Hoya at junior welterweight in 2007.

But we’ve also seen how poorly Mosley adjusts to top flight fighters who commit to matching wits with him. Cotto is a fine and surprisingly versatile fighter but as a ring technician he’s no Floyd Mayweather, and if he could befuddle Mosley with a jab and a little movement you really have to question how Mosley will deal with Mayweather’s impressive array of skills.

So who am I picking?

I like Mosley’s chances. He’s one of the few fighters alive who can match Mayweather’s speed, but he also has a good enough jab to keep Mayweather distracted and the power to flatten anyone in the division. If anyone can beat Mayweather, it’s Mosley.

I just don’t think he’ll do it.

Mayweather is just that skilled and that smart. He’ll move without running, stick Mosley with his own jab and slow him down with body shots. He’ll fight on the inside just enough to keep Mosley honest, but over the course of 12 the defense, ring generalship and savvy will prove to be a little more than Mosley can handle.

So who I am picking is Mayweather by fairly close decision.

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