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Shane Mosley’s Road to Pacquiao

“On May 7th, 2011, pound-for-pound superstar Manny Pacquiao will face future hall of famer, Sugar Shane Mosley.”

I read this about a week ago, and immediately found myself shaking my head in disapproval.

Despite being an amazing fighter, with a superb track record at that; the thought of Mosley facing Pacquiao now just makes my stomach turn.

Almost 2 years ago, Shane Mosley was on top of the world.

Fighting as a 4-1 underdog, Mosley utterly trounced Antonio Margarito, making use of a cagey and highly tactile gameplan imparted to him by his new trainer, Bernard Hopkins’ old friend Naazim Richardson.

While he looked absolutely brilliant in that performance, effectively turning back the clock on what at that time was a very uncertain era in his career, (loss to Cotto, tough fight with Mayorga) the truth remains that he clinched, rough housed with and clubbed his way to victory against a momentum based slugger with a habit for blocking punches with his face.

With his FACE.

In other words, while I would never take anything away from Mosley for his incredible victory over Margarito, as the timing of the win couldn’t have been more epic; (Cotto had edged a victory over Mosley earlier, and Margarito had just torn Cotto to shreds) but I think it needs to be said that people shouldn’t have been nearly surprised by it as they were.

Now, if Mosley had gotten a shot at Pacquiao then, when everyone was singing his praises and ballyhooing for him to challenge the world’s best; I probably wouldn’t have had a problem with him challenging Floyd Mayweather or Manny Pacquiao.

I would never have believed he could beat either of them, but I could have seen myself entertaining the prospect of him putting up a decent fight.

Instead though, Mosley would miss out on an opportunity to battle the (still) rising prospect Andre Berto due to the Haitian earthquake, and would remain inactive for nearly a year and a half.

A year and a half can make a world of difference when you’re nearly 40 in a young man’s sport.

As fate would have it, Mosley would finally get his shot at Floyd Mayweather, being thoroughly outboxed and, dare I say; brutalized for 12 rounds, despite landing an exciting overhand right that had Mayweather on queer street for a good while.

Outside of that one punch though, deprived of opportunities to clinch with and smother the offense of his fleet-footed opponent, Mosley looked like an old man in that fight.

First and only time I've ever seen him beat up like this.

Even so, it’s easy to look bad when you’re fighting one of the best (semi-active) fighters on the planet.

Following that horrendous loss, Mosley apparently went back to the drawing board and decided to rebuild his career.

How moving up to a weight that brought him nothing but shitty performances and ugly losses, as well as choosing Sergio Mora of Contender fame, an opponent with little to no marquee value or talent, figured into this plan is beyond me; but then again what do I know, I’m just a blog writer.

Anyway, as you can probably tell by now, Mosley’s next and most current fight was fought against Sergio Mora at Jr. Middleweight, in what was one of the sloppiest, boring, and utterly pointless contests in boxing that I can recall in recent memory.

Pictured: Mosley vs. Mora in a nutshell.

Mosley looked tired, bearing an impotent offense with none of the twitchy speed and sharp punching that made us all love him back in the day.

Mora on the other hand, was exactly the same as we all (regretfully) remember him.

Quick of fist and foot, and slippery to boot; Mora was his same boring self, making no use of his speed advantage by throwing too few (pillow fisted) punches.

With neither man able to do much of anything right in the fight, the contest ended in a draw, and rightfully so.

Neither man deserved to walk out of the arena that night feeling like a winner.

I'd have slapped them in the face instead of raising their hands. That's just me though...

And that, my friends; is Shane Mosley’s road to facing the pound-for-pound king of boxing.

A big win against a walking target, a punishing and brutal loss to the “other” best fighter on the planet, and a draw with a slippery tomato can.

That’s what gets you a big-time fight with the best in the world?

Sadly, this match seems to have been constructed, by Bob Arum no less; with the potential of pay-per-view buys in mind more so than it’s significance in regards to the competitive value of the bout.

Mosley’s was and is a great fighter, but it’s clear he’s entered the twilight of his career and should be considering his health more so than his checkbook.

I’ve seen his recent interviews.

I’ve noticed that his speech and mannerisms have begun to slow.

In a young man’s sport, where landing and dodging blows to people’s craniums is the name of the game, one should be wary of how “little things” like this could translate into their in-ring performance.

In other words:

If you’re noticeably slowing down and getting “goofy” in a fucking interview, maybe, just maybe; you’re also slowing down in the ring, probably more than you think.

This fight scares me, as I can’t help but feel that this time, against a far more aggressive and active opponent than his previous conqueror; Mosley will get hurt.

And I don’t mean “hurt” in the “I cut my finger on an envelope” sort of way.

I mean the guy might get knocked stupid.

Truth be told though, for a boxer like Shane Mosley, a pugilist that many proudly refer to as more of a “fighter” than a “boxer,” such an experience might be the only way he’ll ever find it within himself to call it quits.

I just hope the day Sugar Shane finally throws in the towel isn’t the day he finds himself unable to remember his kid’s names.

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Manny Pacquiao vs. Antonio Margarito Prediction

This is going to be what I like to call a “political” prediction.

That is to say, I’ll post my genuine, honest to God feelings as to what’s going to happen in the fight; but I’ll do so while mentioning some of the other potential outcomes.

In other words:

I’m hoping to make my prediction while covering my ass.

Anyway, here’s what I think:

Manny Pacquiao has demonstrated in his previous fights in the 140 lbs+ weight range, that his speed, tenacity, and chin have survived the climb in weight.

In Antonio Margarito, Pacquiao will be facing a naturally larger opponent, creating perhaps the largest size disparity he’ll have faced up to this point.

Despite the size issue, here are some of my thoughts Pacquiao as a fighter in general:

 

Manny Pacquiao, being awesome.

Manny’s greatest assets in my book, are his impeccable footwork; wherein he keeps his feet set and primed for leverage and power regardless of his positioning, his calculated exploitation of the obscure punching angles granted to him by his Southpaw stance, and his tendency to breach his opponent’s comfort zone for slightly longer stretches than most fighters are capable.

What I mean by that last statement, is that Pacquiao uses in-and-out tactics with his power punching; but with greater emphasis on the “in” than the “out.”

Most fighters dart in for a few shots, reset; and start from scratch.

Manny darts in for A SHIT TON of shots, changes angles, and comes in for some more; all while generally remaining (or at least feigning that he is) within his opponent’s perceivable punching range.

This results in many opponents chasing Manny in instances when he’s really not far enough away for such actions to be a viable option I.E. Ricky Hatton.

 

A little to the left Mr. Hatton. Jus' sayin'...

Lunging/charging fighter + Filipino with superior handspeed = Filipino with another KO notch on his belt.

In terms of punching angles, to my knowledge Manny’s best shots come straight down the pipe ala a Southpaw Kostya Tszyu, or swatting down from above with a right hook to the point of the chin.

In general, like any good middle range fighter, he aims to connect at the height of extension, though in his case he tends to aim for the chin with his hooks instead a broader target like the the temple or sinus.

 

Sorry to spam the Hatton pics, but you have no idea how happy I was to see his clinching ass flattened...

And you wonder why he’s been knockin’ fools out all these years?

Enough about Pacman, it’s time to show Antonio Margarito some respect:

 

Antonio Margarito, being awesome while pointing.

Antonio Margarito’s best assests are his granite chin, the tremendous volume of his punch output, and his capacity to continually build momentum throughout the fight.

The Tijuana Tornado has a chin, I don’t think anyone would argue that.

To date, Shane Mosley is the first and only fighter to knockout Antonio Margarito, in what was an incredibly one-sided affair.

Despite this, one has to take into consideration the fact that ‘ole Sugar Shane had to club the mighty Mexican across the jaw with overhand rights for nearly 8 rounds straight before his legs began to wobble.

 

9 rounds of THIS. Even Tony Zale would've gone down once or twice...

Make no mistake, water droplets can crack any rock given enough time, and in the case of Antonio Margarito, it took around 24 minutes of torrential downpour for it to finally happen.

The man was knocked out, yes; but in no way should that make anyone discount his ability to take punishment.

Moving on, Margarito is a very large Welterweight with average handspeed, but with a round-to-round punch output and well-varied repertoire of punches to make up for it.

He’s a classic example of the “Bionic Mexican (TM)”:

"I need your clothes, your boots, and your motorcycle..."

A momentum and pressure based fighter with an incredible chin that loves to go to the body, but will gladly throw at whatever you show him in the meantime.

That being said, Margarito is an especially large example of the Bionic Mexican, particularly at his weight.

No doubt aware of this, Margarito stalks his opponents and keeps his gloves in their face all night until they mentally break down.

While said strategy often results in him eating a lot more shots than most trainers would like to see their fighters deal with, it also has the added benefit of causing fighters to fight on the move, forcing opponents with foowork issues to throw the majority of their punches from weak stances, thusly diminishing the power of their shots I.E. Miguel Cotto.

This was hard for me to watch. *Sniff* Cotto was my boy...

In terms of best punches, I have to say that I’ve always felt Antonio Margarito had a particularly nasty uppercut with both hands.

Given the length of his arms, I’d imagine it comes from below many fighters periphery, as well as reaches farther than most would expect; thusly resulting in a elusive and powerful punch that is hard to see coming.

"Hello, Golden Johnson." (2 minutes and 28 seconds later) "Goodbye, Golden Johnson."

Not only that, it should also be mentioned that said punch is usually backed up by about 20 other punches from several different angles.

Add it all up, and you have a whirlwind of solid shots from all angles, with one particularly nasty one hiding out somewhere just below.

Now then, let’s get to the prediction, shall we?:

Manny Pacquiao, UD or TKO round 6-8.

As with all of Manny Pacquiao’s fights since he started his journey North of 135 lbs, the only way I see him losing if the other guy gets to do “his thing.”

In the case of Ricky Hatton, I felt that if Ricky could only win if he could get his annoying ass “clinch and hit” game going.

He didn’t, and the result was one of the grandest blow-outs I can recall seeing on live TV.

 

Yay! No more clinching!

In the case of Miguel Cotto, I felt that if the stout Puerto Rican could stymie Pacman with his jab, and then play him into his left hook to the body, he might have a chance at taking the fight.

While Cotto managed to do both of these things, for about 10 seconds; he was ultimately unable to cope with the footwork and angles of Pacquiao, and was thusly hurt too early in the fight to build any sort of momentum.

 

... Not exactly the best way to win a fight there Mr. Cotto.

As I mentioned earlier, it’s all about the comfort zone with Pacquiao.

In short, he denies his opponents of ever acquiring one for themselves over the course of the fight.

Fighters like Juan Manuel Marquez, that have the benefit of a sturdy chin and the capacity and to adjust mid-fight, as well as the willingness to stand and trade in order to weather the storm, are exactly the types of fighters that have what it takes to handle Pacquiao.

The boxing equivalent to yelling, "Get the fuck out my face, son!"

Bear in mind I said “handle,” not “beat.”

In Margarito I see a fighter that has all of the traits I just mentioned, except for the ability to adjust.

While I would never go so far as to say that Antonio Margarito is a one-dimensional fighter, (he’s not) I don’t see him as having the sufficient level of science in his fighting to take a step back and say:

“This isn’t working.  Let’s start over next round.”

As such, I have a feeling that this fight could end up being another case of Pacquiao doing his thing, while the other never gets a chance to show what he’s got… While eating an ungodly amount of punches.

While that is my gut feeling and my official prediction for the Pacquiao\Margarito fight, there are a few alternate scenarios I feel are worth mentioning:

First off, Margarito’s chin, coupled with his punch output; could in fact put Pacquiao in his place.

Unlike Ricky Hatton, whose rigid head and neck posture caused his damage to pile up prematurely, Margarito, much like his fellow contemporary Bionic Mexican brother Librado Andrade, is amazingly skilled at rolling with the punches.

Uh... Good job?

While Pacquiao’s hardest shots come straight down the middle, thusly negating this maneuver; said technique could allow the Tijuana Tornado to power through some of Pacman’s more superficial punches, thereby allowing Margarito to land some shots of his own, thusly turning quick potshots into full-blown exchanges.

Make no mistake, if Margarito can exchange with Pacquiao as he’s attempting to step in or out of range, the momentum factor could make for some interesting later rounds.

Another aspect of the fight to take into consideration, is the fact that neither fighter is known to clinch very often, if at all; and yet both display a vulnerability to the technique.

In the case of Margarito, the clinch was instrumental in Shane Mosley’s victory over him, as it allowed him to smother his punches, as well as land heavy shots on the way in without the danger of follow-up shots to contend with.

While I have yet to witness anyone able to successfully clinch with Pacquiao with any sort of regularity, my gut tells me he too would have issues contending with it.

He’s a middle-range fighter with impeccable and commanding footwork, meaning if you take those factors away from him, he’s left with a crippled offense and the fatigue brought on by the constant grappling.

While I honestly don’t see it happening, if Margarito really wants to win, (and lose the respect of his fans in the process) it would be interesting seeing him stoop to the level of using the methods of his previous conqueror to take on Pacman.

Truth be told, while clinching is supposedly a form of cheating according to the official rules of the sport, for this fight it would make a lot of sense for Margarito to try.

He’s got the height and wingspan to take full advantage of it, and the disparity in size would most certainly wear on Pacquiao, regardless of how deep his stamina reserves may be.

Anyway, after a long day of work this is just about everything I can think of to say on the subject of Manny Pacquiao vs. Antonio Margarito.

I probably won’t be seeing this one live, so make sure to check it out for me!

Filed under: Boxing, Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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