Monday, March 22, 2010
Mayweather vs Mosley
By Terence Dooley
Floyd Mayweather faces WBA ‘super’ welterweight title holder Shane Mosley at the MGM Grand, Las Vegas on May the 1st in what promises to be the ultimate all-American pound-for-pound showdown.
Shane, once tipped to be the lightweight version of Sugar Ray Robinson, is coming off a big upset win over Antonio Margarito in January of last year and the 37-year-old Californian has long believed that he is the man to take Floyd’s ‘0’.
Floyd, however, does not know how to lose. The 33-year-old, Las Vegas-based boxer looked rejuvenated when coming off a near two-year layoff to dominate and decision Juan Manuel Marquez last September.
Billy Graham, who took Ricky Hatton into a megafight with Floyd back in December 2007, spent hours studying Floyd in the build-up to that showdown. Sadly, he left the MGM Grand arena heartbroken after Hatton’s tenth-round stoppage loss yet Floyd’s boxing had impressed the veteran trainer. Indeed, Graham has waxed lyrical about Floyd ever since and believes that it will take a special fighter to beat ‘Money’ Mayweather.
“It is no foregone conclusion, for sure, but you’d have to lean towards Floyd, who is younger and hasn’t taken any of those type of beatings that Shane took in his fights against Vernon Forrest and Winky Wright,” Graham declared to BoxingScene.com when analysing the upcoming contest.
“You can’t write Shane off, as he’s having an Indian summer in recent fights. Shane has wanted Floyd for a long time and believes he knows how to beat him. I believe that Mosley is physically stronger as he’s been used to fighting these bigger guys. Then again, Floyd doesn’t often need to use his strength because his ability wins him fights.
“I think that the main problem for Shane is that he’d rather have someone come to him; he likes to sit back, let someone come, and work off the mistakes. Shane needs to take it to Floyd in this fight and it is something he isn’t used to. This is possibly tougher for both men than a fight with Manny [Pacquiao] would have been.”
Graham, as was the case with the Hatton fight, believes that the key to beating Floyd is not just back him up but, rather, knowing what to do when you have forced Floyd into his defensive shell.
“If it is a straight boxing match then Floyd will edge it. Shane needs to make a fight of it at times to take Floyd out of his stride, whether or not he can do that is what makes this a fascinating fight,” predicted Graham.
“I always knew that the problem wasn’t catching up with Floyd, who couldn’t move backwards faster than Ricky could move forward, and had warned Ricky beforehand that Floyd would hit a lot harder on the outside and inside than he’d been led to believe. Look, you don’t operate at Floyd’s level if you’re a non-puncher so I told Ricky to be prepared for that and that the real problem was what to do when he got close to Floyd.
“There was huge help from the referee [Joe Cortez]. Floyd did whatever he could get away with, and he got away with murder in there, so I can’t knock him for that. Floyd is very good at nullifying people when he gets inside; he is a nightmare to open up when you get close. He is behind that shoulder but is constantly looking at his opponent; he stares you in the face and never takes his eyes of you, which is how you know there is something about him. Floyd anticipates the shots, catches them, and uses the openings to get to you.”
Graham’s respect for Floyd, always healthy, burgeoned during the course of the Hatton fight when he saw just how effective Floyd can on the inside, as well as how cruel and calculating Floyd is when in puncher mode.
“Floyd is flash but he is a much nicer person than he portrays himself to be, he is a gentleman in person, that flashiness is his MO but if you think there is nothing more to him than that you are making a huge mistake,” warned ‘The Preacher’.
“Floyd is one tough bastard. If he can have an easy night then he’ll make it easy, he isn’t bothered about what the crowd thinks, which could be seen as a sign of his mental strength, and is not bothered if the fight is dreary for the onlooker. For Floyd, it is all about negating your strengths and getting the win.
“Any time you see anyone push Floyd into a fight then you see the best of him. You have to drag a fight out of Floyd but once you do his heart is equal to the task. Floyd has more to him than just skill. He is a diabolically good puncher, really accurate, and he whips the shots in when you open yourself up. His chin is also solid, though it is hard to tell for sure because no one has ever landed more than a handful of power shots on the fucker - you certainly don’t see him hit with consecutive power punches.”
Floyd’s September return saw Mayweather box with superb control. When Marquez did break through with a right hand in round two, Floyd smiled before hammering the smaller man to the canvas, punishing the Mexican for his impudence. Juan, a top, top boxer, was never in the fight, a huge testimony to Floyd’s fistic ability.
“Not one iota,” said Graham when asked if the domination of Marquez had surprised him. “The guy is always in shape. Floyd actually looks smaller when not in training. His arms look smaller and he looks slender. Then he gets in the gym, does the hard graft, and looks even more solid on fight night. I think he’s teetotal, a non-smoker and his only vice in that respect is a bit of chocolate - the guy is a phenomenon.
“If his hands were a little bit frail then the rest did him good. Marquez is a great fighter in his own right but to someone like Floyd he is a sparring partner – I love Marquez but we have to be honest here. Floyd took him apart and could have stopped him had he put his foot on the gas.”
Graham, though, is not prepared to write Shane off; he believes that Vernon Forrest, who took away Shane’s ‘0’ and then out-pointed Mosley in the return match, took a lot out of Shane and that it took Mosley a few years to get those reverses out of his system. Ominously, ‘The Viper’ utilised a box-clinching style to break Shane’s rhythm, this technique is often employed by Floyd; Graham believes that Shane will have to face his worst stylistic nightmare as well as upping his own game once again if he is to prevail.
“Shane could do this,” warned Graham. “Shane will have more to offer Floyd, he’s coming off a huge win, and has preserved himself well, just like Floyd. Shane will be up for this; he’s called for it. But if I had to bet on it then I’d go for Floyd although he will find this tougher than a Pacquiao fight; Manny is a great fighter but Shane is a great big fighter. The main worry is that Floyd, who was more than a match for Vernon Forrest in terms of ability, will come out with the perfect gameplan, just like Vernon did, and take the play away from Shane early in the fight.
“If you want to know how good a fight this is then look at their records. Shane is 46-5 and has knocked out 39 guys, and he was brutally chinning them back in his lightweight days. His losses have come against the best: Vernon Forrest, may he rest in peace, Winky Wright and a peak Miguel Cotto, all on points - that is just ridiculous. Floyd is 40 and nothing, with over twenty knockouts, beating guys like Ricky, Oscar [De La Hoya], Diego Corrales, who was hammered by Floyd, Marquez, [Zab] Judah and Jose Luis Castillo. Castillo took some rounds from him in the first fight and it was such a shock people called for a rematch, and Floyd won that one as well!
“These guys are two juggernaughts of modern boxing, their records are a history of who is who in the modern sport, nearly one hundred fights between them and only five losses, this fight is immense.”
“I may be going for Floyd but I’d never write Shane off”, concluded Graham, “you can’t as he’s raised his game before against Oscar [De La Hoya], Miguel Cotto, where he forced a close fight, and Antonio Margarito, so he can raise his game again. You’ve also got two icons of modern American boxing going at it, how often can you say that? Our readers just need to enjoy this one for what it is: a great fight.”