He's fast approaching his 40th birthday in September, but if there is one thing former three-division champion Shane Mosley is confident about, it's his ability to punch with power. He hit Floyd Mayweather Jr. hard enough in the second round a year ago Sunday to convince him to stay outside and jab his way to victory, and Mosley believes he has a puncher's chance to beat Manny Pacquiao Saturday in Las Vegas.
Unlike Mayweather, Pacquiao's style is to come inside and throw combinations, which means he must expose himself to Mosley's punches. Pacquiao's speed might be a problem, but Mosley should have plenty of opportunities to hit back and make it a far more entertaining fight than Mosley's 12-round loss to Mayweather.
"This fight is very risky for Manny Pacquiao," Mosley said recently. "People want to see what's going to happen. Is Manny going to get knocked out? Or is Manny going to knock Shane out? The unpredictability of the fight arouses people around the world."
Referring to Pacquiao's last fight against Antonio Margarito in November, Mosley added, "I see in the Margarito fight that Margarito landed the most punches ever on Manny Pacquiao. So, if Margarito is fast enough to land punches on Manny Pacquiao, then I know I am fast enough to land punches on Manny Pacquiao."
Since losing to Mayweather, who had far too much speed for him, Mosley also fought to a draw with Sergio Mora, suggesting he might be in a steep decline. Mosley (46-6-1, 39 KOs) admits those poor showings combined with his popularity probably helped him get the fight against Pacquiao (52-3-2, 38 KOs).
But Nazim Richardson, who trains Mosley, believes his man still has enough left in the tank to impose his style on Pacquiao. "If Shane hits you solid you're going on the defensive," Richardson said. "I don't care how much of a gladiator or how tough you were before, when Shane tags you, you'll be a defensive fighter. So, Pacquiao could become a defensive fighter in this fight."
That doesn't mean Richardson doesn't respect Pacquiao. He compared him to Hall of Famer Aaron Pryor, who threw punches in bunches from all angles with tremendous speed. "Aaron Pryor had a decent punch but he was all action," Richardson said. "You could just see his energy level was just extraordinary. And Pacquiao brings the same level of energy.
"It's difficult to answer because he's so consistent. After he's fought bigger guys, his fights have gotten easier because the high-energy guys are at the lower weight classes. So when he's fought bigger guys he's actually had an easier time."
The fact Pacquiao is a southpaw contributes to the difficulty his orthodox opponents have in avoiding his punches. He can surprise you.
But as Richardson said, "If a bullet misses you by two inches, it's just as dangerous as a fly. It only matters if they land. And right now Shane's in the gym landing some beautiful punches."
Like most of Pacquiao's opponents, Mosley has a size advantage of more than two inches in height and seven inches in reach, and he's sure to enter the ring weighing more a day after the weigh-in. Although Mosley is seven years older than Pacquiao, he never has been the type to get out of shape as he ages. So, Pacquiao knows he'll get Mosley's best.