Who R U Picking, Squared: Floyd Mayweather Vs. Shane Mosley Preview And Prediction

So continues our marathon coverage of Floyd Mayweather-Shane Mosley on May 1, one of the biggest fights of 2010. Previously: the meaning of Mayweather-Mosley; Mosley’s pivotal weapon; keys to the fight, part I and II; final preview and prediction. Next: the ultimate guide.

For a fight so big, where no exaggeration is required, it is strange that a number of things about Floyd Mayweather-Shane Mosley are so out of proportion. Mosley figures as the toughest opponent of Mayweather’s career, yet Mayweather is the 4-1 betting favorite. Mayweather-Mosley is a true mega-fight, the biggest since 2007, yet Golden Boy Promotions boss Richard Schaefer incredibly insists it could do 4 million pay-per-view buys, or 1.6 million more than the record-setting bout three years ago between Mayweather and Oscar De La Hoya.

Four million pay-per-view buys is unbelievable. It’s the 4-1 odds that keep getting me though. Here’s how surprised I’d be if Mosley beat Mayweather: not 4-1 surprised. A Golden Boy Promotions fan poll about who will win the fight shows only 51 percent of people picking Mayweather to win. That feels more like it. Mayweather is a masterful fighter, an unmatched defensive technician who makes everyone he fights look like a mere human to his demigod. But Mosley is a stone-cold killer, a bigger man with enormous self-belief and an ace in his corner.

I don’t know if this fight will deliver the excitement in reality that it promises in theory as a bout between two of the best boxers of their time, because you never can expect excitement from a Mayweather fight so much as you can expect a one-man classical music concert. I can tell you this, though: If anyone can bring it out of him, it’s someone like Mosley. Ricky Hatton brought it out of him. Hatton is nowhere near as skilled, big or fast as Mosley.

Strategically, here’s how the fight looks to me: It’s Mayweather’s speed, defensive ability and intelligence against Mosley’s size, lesser speed and defensive ability, willpower, age/ring rust and his trainer Naazim Richardson.

Historically, you don’t have to be as fast as Mayweather to hit him. Jose Luis Castillo wasn’t as fast, but he was persistent, and he hit Mayweather. Oscar De La Hoya, wasn’t as fast, but he was bigger and had some technical assets, and he hit Mayweather (although not as much as the judges thought). DeMarcus Corley wasn’t as fast, but he was left-handed and unpredictable, and he hit Mayweather. But: The only person that Mayweather fought who was in his speed league, Zab Judah, hit him.

Other than Castillo, none of those men hit him very much, and even then, the second time they fought, Castillo hit him a lot less. You can’t say enough about Mayweather’s defensive mastery. Nor can you say enough about his intelligence. Someone hits him, he adjusts, then that person doesn’t hit him anymore.

I don’t doubt that Mosley can hit Mayweather, under the circumstances. He’s fast enough, big enough and he’s good enough technically. On the other hand, I thought Juan Manuel Marquez was good enough if not fast enough to hit Mayweather in his last fight, and Marquez was as bad as or worse than anyone at hitting Mayweather than anyone before. So I sorta doubt it. I definitely doubt his ability to do it for very long. If and when Mosley hits Mayweather, though, Mosley’s size and power will make it so Mayweather feels those punches more than any other he’s felt. Mosley can knock out Mayweather if he can hit him enough in one sequence.

Mayweather should be able to hit Mosley, who’s no defensive expert, even with Richardson in his corner and apparently boosting his defensive powers. Mayweather’s jab, in particular, should find Mosley at will. I don’t think Mayweather can hurt Mosley, but I think he can at least periodically stop him in his tracks. Mosley’s chin is excellent and if he decided to throw any remote caution to the wind and charge Mayweather recklessly, I think he’d survive whatever came back. Mayweather also might tie him up, and Mosley’s strong enough that he might be able to get some work done on the inside, but I’m not sure if charging forward recklessly and getting clipped then getting tied up then getting some work done on the inside wins a decision for Mosley. Pressuring Mayweather hasn’t done the trick on him in years.

Richardson is the wild card. If anyone can notice things about Mayweather that are previously unnoticed, even in the middle of the fight, it’s him. I think the idea is to counter Mayweather, rough him up and force him into a firefight he’s unaccustomed to, then knock him out in the midst of that firefight. As I’ve written, that’s just a guess based on what Richardson has said so far. But Richardson may also see something that could succeed that he didn’t anticipate and switch the strategy up on the fly, or switch to a backup plan late. That’s a wild card for you.

I can’t help but think, though, that Mosley’s ring rust will make this already difficult plan yet more difficult to pull off. It could take Mosley a few rounds to find his way in this fight, owing to his long layoff from the ring. By then it will be too late. Mayweather will probably already be dialed in, his rhythm undisruptable.

So I figure it goes this way: Mosley makes it more competitive early than 4-1 odds, if not as competitive as the fans who participated in that poll seem to think, but won’t have shaken off enough of his rust to do what he needs to do to win very many rounds. Mosley gets into enough of a lather to make the middle rounds competitive, too, but not enough to win very many of them. And, down on the cards late — absent a game-changing turn of strategy from Richardson — Mosley is forced to gun his engines and try to run over Mayweather at all costs, because Mosley in dire straights is Mosley doing everything he can to win, but even winning those rounds won’t be enough.

Mayweather’s speed, defensive ability and intelligence in the end will trump everything Mosley has, which would be the case under optimal conditions for Mosley. But Mayweather will know he’s been in a fight unlike anything he’s felt in the last eight years, and he’ll have the best win of his career — and a little more respect from those of us who have wanted him to take a challenge that tests his mettle in the welterweight division. Mayweather by unanimous decision.

[TQBR Prediction Game 2.0 is in effect. Remember the rules. Because I posted this blog entry later than expected, the deadline for posting a prediction will be extended to noon Saturday. To steal the stupid name of this fight: “Who R U Picking?”]

About Tim Starks

Tim is the founder of The Queensberry Rules and co-founder of The Transnational Boxing Rankings Board (http://www.tbrb.org). He lives in Washington, D.C. He has written for the Guardian, Economist, New Republic, Chicago Tribune and more.