In his prime, Sugar Shane Mosley had the speed and moves to cope with Floyd Mayweather Jr. But except for a couple of good exchanges by Mosley in the first two rounds of their fight Saturday night, Mayweather won a unanimous decision in what amounted to a walkover.
Mosley's achievement simply was lasting to the end. Not that he was in danger of being knocked out from the intensity of Mayweather's punching. Mayweather doesn't really throw that many punches. But Mayweather never was in danger of running into a knockout punch because Mosley was so intimidated by Mayweather's speed.
Mosley had a choice: Take a risk, go inside aggressively and try to brawl and force Mayweather to fight or stand at the end of Mayweather's punches, catch two or three clean shots per round and survive. He chose the latter route.
There's no doubt Mayweather is a Hall of Fame fighter. Nowhere near the class of a Sugar Ray Robinson or Muhammad Ali, as he insists, but he's highly skilled. That doesn't make his style any more satisfying.
His speed forces fighters like Mosley to hold back out of the fear of getting caught in a flurry, but Mayweather seldom presses his advantage unless he knows his opponent is completely overmatched and there's absolutely no danger to himself. Would Mayweather have fought Jake LaMotta six times, including two fights three weeks apart with another opponent in between? Robinson did.
Mayweather came out of the Mosley bout clean. He absorbed a few solid punches here and there, but he protects himself first and then uses his speed to land punches that are more strategic than anything else, even though the cleanest shots pack a wallop.
Somebody needs to force Mayweather into a real fight, and there's only one person capable of doing that: Manny Pacquiao.
Now more than ever, I understand why promoter Bob Arum says Mayweather never will fight Pacquiao and risk his undefeated record. I cringed tonight when HBO's Larry Merchant prefaced a question by saying that Mayweather finally fought a dangerous opponent. At 38 years old, bereft of his youthful speed, Mosley wasn't dangerous to Mayweather.
Pacquiao is fast, but I don't believe he's quite as fast as Mayweather. However, he has a style and a mindset that would spell trouble for Mayweather. Pacquiao is willing to engage and would come inside to take his shots even at the risk of catching something serious from Mayhweather. Pacquiao would not stand at the end of Mayweather's punches. He would dip and move and come from unorthodox angles, and he would punch in flurries instead of just trying to sneak in a good one.
Maybe Mayweather could handle it, but we won't know until they're in the ring together. My suspicion is that Mayweather is a creature of habit who might have trouble opening up and firing if someone hit him enough to make that a necessity. In his gut, Mayweather doesn't want that kind of fight, which is why he will continue to insist on blood testing for Pacquiao.
Pacquiao might not give in. Mayweather has no right to dictate the terms beyond what is required by the Nevada State Athletic Commission or any other boxing commission. But the best thing for boxing would be for Pacquiao to call Mayweather's bluff, accept the testing and see if Mayweather then accepted the fight.
It's the only way Mayweather's ability to respond under pressure ever will be tested because only Pacquiao is capable of putting him in the middle of a real fight and forcing him to put "Money" where his mouth is.