TQBR Roundtable, Super Turbo Championship Edition: Can Sugar Shane Shock The World Against Manny Pacquiao? And Which Weight Is The Greatest?

So continues our marathon coverage of one of the biggest fights of 2011, Manny Pacquiao-Shane Mosley on May 7. Previously: the stakes of the bout; a Pacquiao vs. Mosley-themed Open Thread; keys to the fight, part I and II; the final preview and prediction. Next: the ultimate guide.

Good day, sirs and ladies, and welcome to the latest edition of the TQBR Roundtable, where we eat with our hands and fight with our mouths.

This edition’s participants include Corey Erdman, Andrew Harrison, Alex McClintock, Gautham Nagesh, and Tim Starks. I, Scott Kraus, will be your host and moderator. Would you like Bob Arum lies with that? In this earth-shattering edition, we will discuss the impending sort-of superfight between Manny Pacquiao and Shane Mosley, as well as which weight fight fans should be watching.

(Stay tuned for next week’s edition, where we discuss whether Sally Struthers could compete in the current heavyweight division.)

Without any futher ado or singing poo, let’s take our seats around the table and begin the conversation!

Topic 1: Has the recent string of upsets and near-upsets influenced your expectations for Manny Pacquiao-Shane Mosley? How much of a chance do you give Mosley to win? To be competitive? How does Pacquiao-Mosley stack up to other big fights of the past couple years (Mayweather-Mosley, Pacquiao-Cotto)?

Corey Erdman:

As magical as the recent upsets in boxing have been, there lies a real danger in outrageous underdogs performing miracles in the ring. Boxing promoters have never needed an excuse to create wild mismatches before, but now have validation every time they do so. “Just look at what Erik Morales did! You can never count out experience!” I’m not going to be blinded by the recent happenings and wind up calling this an even matchup. If I’m doing that, I might as well start picking No. 8 seeds to win NBA playoff series, and 12 seeds to make runs in the NCAA tournament from now on. These performances are outliers. Shane Mosley is not supposed to win, and shouldn’t, or he wouldn’t have been given this bout.

What Mosley does provide is a recognizable American name that no doubt was a tad bit more appealing to CBS than “devastating Ghanaian brawler”-types Bob Arum could have offered up. Pacquiao would do numbers facing Marteze Logan, let alone a future Hall of Famer, with the help of national cable infomercials on a weekly basis. This fight — if we measure “magnitude” by the number of converters clicking “purchase” on their digital guide — is on the same level as any fight over the past three years.

Andrew Harrison:

I give Mosley zero chance of winning this fight and, in fact, feel that he could catch a horrible beating instead – one that’ll bring about a spike in mouthwash sales come May the 8th. Pacquiao’s recent bouts have been grotesque slaughters. The way the man can consistently pound on welterweights round after round with that freakish engine and unnatural power leads to drawn out beatings – the type that often leaves the recipient badly hurt, if not immediately, then down the line. When the opponent is pushing 40 years old, possibly shot, with a solid chin, porous defence and balls the size of Pomona, then the forecast isn’t looking exactly peachy.

I don’t see it as a big fight, personally. Two great names, granted — however, one of them is in his pomp while the other’s fading away. In terms of where each guy is, it reminds me of Joe Calzaghe vs Roy Jones in ’08 or perhaps Jones vs Mike McCallum twelve years prior to that one, with Roy experiencing first the Pac and then the Sugar role. Shame he’ll not be working the play-by-play really. In spite of all that, I’m sure it’ll do big business regardless, if not a whole lot of anything for the sport.

Alex McClintock:

I also think that Pacquiao will put an uncomfortable amount of hurt on Mosley in the second half, possibly with a highlight reel KO. We might not want to see Shane take that, but it’ll hopefully be attractive to the casual fans (especially those attracted by CBS). So even though this fight might suck a bit on paper, I reckon it’ll probably be better than any of the big events of recent years.

Gautham Nagesh:

I attribute the recent string of upsets to a backlog of prospects that were overdue for their first real tests and found wanting; it doesn’t necessarily influence how I would predict a fight between two known entities. A week ago I was beginning to think Mosley was being taken a little too lightly, but he is a healthy underdog and the fight shouldn’t be presented as an even match-up. With that being said, I expect Shane to be competitive and think he could possibly win if he catches Manny the same way he did Floyd Mayweather, but my guess is it would have to take place before round 5 and the odds are at best 5-1.

In terms of recent fights, this is definitely a bigger event than either of the previous two bouts mentioned but slightly more of a mismatch; when Shane fought Floyd he was coming off of a huge win against Antonio Margarito and presented a viable threat, whereas now he appears to be further along the downslope. Margarito was the least dangerous opponent of the four but he was large enough to pose a threat to Pacquiao.

Tim Starks:

I’ve already weighed in on Mosley’s chances in the above-linked preview and prediction piece, and on how big the fight is in the above-linked “stakes” piece, but I’ll say that I generally agree that you have to go with what makes the most sense, regardless of whether upsets are in the air. There is, however, this great Kids in the Hall sketch where people are skydiving and dying, which is really an unlikely way to die, in real life. The odds get longer and longer, the scenarios more and more absurd, until the last fellow decides to abandon the parachute and jump out of the plane as-is in hopes that he’ll hit the ground running. At that point, the odds are two to one, according to the instructure. The serious number of upsets of late does make it so I might be less surprised if Mosley wins, but let’s face it, it would be a legitimately huge upset. Mosley’s the underdog for good reasons, just like the other guys were. And it’s not a mathematically sound sketch on the whole, but the end of the Kids in the Hall bit does show that jumping out of the plane with no parachute isn’t a smart bet no matter how wacky things get.

Scott Kraus:

Manny Pac will layeth down the smack, while Sugar Shane will feel the pain.

Topic 2: What weight class do you believe is the strongest in boxing right now? Junior welterweight? Featherweight? Another division? Which division, other than the one you named, do you believe shows the most potential to emerge as a powerhouse in the near future, if any?

Tim Starks:

About the peak time for any weight class is when there are a lot of good fighters in the division and they’re all starting to actually fight each other. And then things can run their course when some of the options are exhausted and One Man Rules Them All, and suddenly a once-fantastic division becomes a bit monolithic and staid. Junior welter, feather, bantam and super middle are all in the middle of this process as we speak. Unfortunately for three of those weight classes the best fights are off the table for the time being — supreme bantamweight talent Nonito Donaire’s all locked up in a promotional dispute, Yuriorkis Gamboa-Juan Manuel Lopez at featherweight has been overcooked and spoiled, and Timothy Bradley has decided he wants more money that he deserves to fight Amir Khan at junior welterweight. At least at super middleweight we’ve had the Super Six tournament, and there’s a strong chance that the winner of that whole thing will face the winner of Lucian Bute-Mikkel Kessler. On the other hand, the best action fights are probably at bantam and feather. This is my roundabout way of saying, “Geez, I really dunno.” As for who’s next: Flyweight could get pretty fun when Giovanni Segura joins the party. Pongsaklek Wonjongkam and Segura are arguably top-10 pound-for-pounders, then you can throw in Hernan Marquez and Luis Concepcion, although depth is lacking.

Gautham Nagesh:

To me what makes a strong weight-class is having at least one and hopefully a few truly championship-quality fighters along with a solid bunch of contenders and prospects below them. You could really take your pick anywhere from lightweight to super middle, but if pressed I’d say junior middleweight and welterweight have the most promise going forward. Middleweight champ Sergio Martinez is capable of moving down and most of the big names at 140 are expected to end up as welterweights eventually, with Victor Ortiz leading the way successfully. 147 and 154 are almost interchangeable at this point anyway, but there are any number of good fights to be made in both classes.

Alex McClintock:

I’m not sure if I even believe myself here, but middleweight might be the emerging division of the next few years. You’ve got a beastly champion in Sergio Martinez. You’ve got young up and comers who are at, or will eventually grow into the division, like Saul Alvarez, Fernando Guerrero, (maybe) James Kirkland, Dimitry Pirog and Hasan N’Dam N’Jikam. The division’s euro dominance might even get bumped off by Danny Geale this weekend. Yeah, I’m a fanboy, so what. Us aussie boxing fans don’t have much to cheer about these days.

Andrew Harrison:

I’d go with bantamweight. From Nonito Donaire down to Yonnhy Perez, you have a crop of battle hardened fighters who’ve all been knocking spots off each other over the past year or so. When Donaire makes his inevitable leap up to featherweight to join the likes of Yuriorkis Gamboa and Juan Manuel Lopez, other top fighters will gravitate towards them (Guillermo Rigondeaux and Wilfredo Vazquez Jr. for instance) and 126 lbs. suddenly becomes hotter than the sun. There’s huge potential at light heavyweight also, should the likes of Carl Froch, Lucian Bute and Andre Ward decide to invade once the Super Six wraps and its various by-products are harvested.

Corey Erdman:

A few months ago, the best division in boxing was universally considered to be light welterweight. Unfortunately, the market value of the potential matchups that predicated that assessment went way downhill with the lackluster Devon Alexander-Timothy Bradley showdown in January. What “money” fights are left, other than lopsided “feature” bouts on HBO for Amir Khan, Bradley and Alexander? The remainder is essentially Friday Night Fights-level bouts with no financial upside.

The money in boxing currently resides at light middleweight. As Waka Flocka Flame said, “broke two years ago, now I’m worth a million!” This division was dreadful two years ago, but is now populated by named of Miguel Cotto, Paul Williams, Antonio Margarito, Cornelius Bundrage, Kermit Cintron, Pawel Wolak, Vanes Martirosyan, Serhiy Dzinziruk, Austin Trout, and one of the ten biggest draws in boxing, Saul Alvarez. Not to mention, in today’s catchweight-happy environment, there is always the possibility of welterweights moving up, Sergio Martinez moving down, or another cash cow, Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr. striking a deal with any of 154’s finest.

Scott Kraus:

I’d have 140 and 168 making the finals of my just made up tournament of the weight classes, except that one would sustain a bizarre, rare, career-threatening illness and the other would demand more money and three judges from the Miss America pageant and pull out before they ever got there. Gun to my head, I’ll say 140, with its great mix of action fighters, young studs, and veteran stars.

And on that note, we leave you with a video from one of my all-time favorite bands, dedicated to Sugar Shane Mosley. Here’s hoping I’m wrong, Shane.

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.