LAS VEGAS – On a bright and sunny February day in the nation's capital, the best fighter in the world met in the morning with the majority leader of the Senate and then in mid-afternoon found himself alone with his wife in the Oval Office, being greeted by the President of the United States.
To say that boxing promoter Bob Arum was effusive after pulling off that daily double would be an understatement of epic proportions.
Having photographs of Manny Pacquiao on the floor of the Senate being honored by Sen. Harry Reid and then stories of his trip to the White House to meet with President Obama were more valuable than gold to Arum, who was on a media tour to promote Pacquiao's pay-per-view bout with Shane Mosley on Saturday in the headliner of a card at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
"They loved him," Arum said. "They (expletive) loved him."
Arum wasn't talking about Pacquiao, the Filipino congressman and pound-for-pound champion who puts his WBO welterweight belt on the line. Rather, he is speaking of Mosley, who is 0-1-1 in his last two fights and who has taken a beating in the media for being chosen as Pacquiao's opponent.
Too old, they said. Past his prime. No longer competitive.
If Arum had any doubts about the success of his pay-per-view, however, they were alleviated on this crisp and clear winter's day. Mosley may yet prove to be over the hill, or too old, or simply not good enough for Pacquiao.
But Arum can smell a pay-per-view success from miles away and he's like a shark zeroing in on blood when he does. While Pacquiao was cavorting with the nation's power brokers, Mosley was dispatched to the New York Knicks' practice and later to the ESPN studios in Bristol, Conn., to help drum up a little extra interest in the bout.
He turned out to be as big a hit in those places as Pacquiao was in Washington, D.C. And while Mosley isn't nearly the fighter he was a decade ago, Arum is more convinced than ever that he is the right man at the right time for Pacquiao.
Mosley, who was briefly considered the world's best pound-for-pound boxer in the early days of this century, is convinced he wouldn't have gotten the match against Pacquiao had he been more impressive against either, or both of, his last two opponents, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Sergio Mora.
He was blown out by Mayweather on May 1, 2010, losing 11 of 12 rounds and losing them badly. He then was very mediocre in settling for a split draw with Mora in September.
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Mosley is constantly reminded of those performances, as if they'll determine how he'll fare against Pacquiao on Saturday. But he said they served a greater purpose nonetheless.
"I don't think they will have anything to do with what I do against Pacquiao because styles make fights," Mosley said. "But if it wasn't for those two fights, I probably wouldn't be here today. So those fights were needed."
Pacquiao has averaged over one million buys per fight in his last five outings and has gotten so popular that he could sell that many against just about anyone. But Arum picked Mosley in December over other alternatives like Juan Manuel Marquez or Andre Berto because he felt that the public was more aware of Mosley than they were of any other potential opponent.
The more the public is aware of the opponent, the better the odds are for the success of a pay-per-view.
And given his pair of wins over Oscar De La Hoya and notable fights against the likes of the late Vernon Forrest, Winky Wright, Fernando Vargas, Antonio Margarito and Mayweather, Mosley fit that bill.
Now, there are many who believe with every fiber of their being that Arum chose Mosley precisely because he has a big name and is so past his prime that he has little chance to win. Using that theory, Mosley gives the promotion the highest name recognition it could get for an opponent while presenting as little risk as possible to Pacquiao.
Mosley and his trainer, Naazim Richardson, aren't sugarcoating the challenge they face. While it would help the promotion if Mosley was full of bravado and repeatedly bragged that he'd get a knockout, that's simply not his style.
Richardson himself couldn't help but heap praise upon Pacquiao. He said he had trouble finding suitable sparring partners for Mosley because there is no one out there who can adequately emulate Pacquiao.
"The last fighter I saw who fought like Pacquiao was (Hall of Famer) Aaron Pryor," Richardson said. "If anyone was fighting like Pacquiao, they'd be off somewhere defending their own title and they wouldn't have time to come to our camp. So all you can do is pick athletes and ask them to bring in attributes that are most common to Pacquiao."
Pryor ended his career with a 39-1 record and 35 knockouts and a reputation as one of the toughest men of his era. The great Sugar Ray Leonard never fought Pryor and there are knowledgeable boxing people who say it's because Leonard knew he couldn't handle Pryor.
Whatever the truth is, Richardson knows that Mosley will be facing a modern-day Pryor when they get into the ring on Saturday at the MGM.
"The reason I compare the two is that Aaron Pryor was an all-action fighter," he said. "He had a decent punch, but he was all-action. You could just see his energy level was just extraordinary. And Pacquiao brings the same level of energy into the ring. And 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."
Mosley won't even come close to being critical of Pacquiao, but it doesn't lessen his belief in himself. He believes he was chosen because the Pacquiao side essentially viewed him as an easy mark with a big name, but he feels he still has enough left to shock the oddsmakers.
Pacquiao is an offensive fighter whom Mosley won't have to find. When he fought Mayweather last year, he badly hurt Mayweather in the second round, but was unable to catch up to the defensive master the remainder of the fight.
This time, though, it's a different scenario. Pacquiao will be in front of him, available to be hit. He won't have to look for Pacquiao, because Pacquiao will bring the fight to him.
That's made Mosley highly confident of victory.
"Well, I look at different fights and I see in the (Pacquiao)-Margarito fight that Margarito landed the most punches ever on Manny Pacquiao," Mosley said. "So if Margarito is fast enough to land punches on Manny Pacquiao, then I know I am fast enough to land punches on him."
A win in the ring would land Mosley, who is earning a guarantee of $5 million, at least a few more multi-million-dollar paydays. But Mosley was chosen mostly for his ability to turn a boxing match into an event.
Privately, Top Rank officials are optimistic that the fight can exceed the best pay-per-view performance of Pacquiao's career, when he sold 1.25 million for a 2008 fight with De La Hoya.
And if Mosley can help push the number close to 1.5 million, that would be the ultimate victory regardless of what happens in the ring.
- Manny Pacquiao
- Shane Mosley