LAS VEGAS // A rowdy night in a gaudy city managed to fling a bevy of disappointment, even if Manny Pacquiao did dominate Shane Mosley to retain his WBO welterweight title and record both his 14th straight win and third straight unanimous decision.
Mosley felt disappointed at his own fecklessness. Pacquiao felt disappointed that his calves cramped and prevented peak efficiency. Both Pacquiao and trainer Freddie Roach felt disappointed at Mosley's benign effort. Mosley felt disappointed at blisters that kicked in halfway through. A major American broadcaster, James Brown, felt disappointed he had listened too much to the Mosley camp's pre-fight emotion about the veteran's energy at 39 years old.
Many of the 16,142 fans felt disappointed enough to spend the middle rounds jeering.
"Our guy trying to win against the other guy just trying to survive," went Roach's description, and the three judges chimed in accordingly, scoring it 119-108 (Glenn Trowbridge), 120-108 (Dave Moretti) and 120-107 (Duane Ford) in the emphatic decision. As Mosley looked aged after promising not to, one judge accorded him two of the 12 rounds while the two others granted him one.
In a telltale quotation, Mosley said, "I thought one of the rounds I might have won was the round that Manny slipped and then I got extra points."
That would be the 10th, during which Pacquiao toppled suddenly and referee Kenny Bayless granted a knockdown. Replays showed Pacquiao fell only from the oomph of his own left that connected with Mosley's head, Pacquiao grew irked over the decision and, according to Roach, Bayless later approached and said, "I'm sorry about the call. I missed it. I apologise."
From the get-go after the rousing entries, the bout went strangely lukewarm and the anticipated early flurries never materialised. Almost all the impetus came from one side, as Pacquiao's punches ran pretty much two-to-one throughout and, in the most glaring statistic, his combinations outnumbered Mosley's by 31 to a very mere five. For a rare exclamation point, Pacquaio sent Mosley crashing to the floor amid the third round, only the third knockdown of Mosley's stellar 18-year career.
"I was pretty hurt, pretty stunned," said Mosley, who previously hit canvas only twice, in 2002, against Vernon Forrest. "It surprised me." Echoing a characterisation often made of Pacquiao, the future Hall of Fame member said, "It didn't seem like a big shot when he took it but then the impact was very strong."
"I think he felt my power," Pacquiao said, "and that's why he didn't want to fight with me and he was running to finish the round. I wanted to fight toe-to-toe with him. I was surprised, I thought his studying, his training, the focus was to fight inside with me, but I was surprised that he ran and ran."
Roach went even more strident: "I don't think he tried to win the fight . . . and when you get to that point in boxing, it's time to call it a day, I think." Referring to American networks prone to air boxing, Roach said, "Will Showtime use him again? Will HBO use him again? No (expletive) way."
Mosley and his trainer, Naazim Richardson, referred to foot blisters that limited Mosley roughly halfway through. Richardson said Mosley needed to "take advantage of the angles, the particular angles that Manny was going to lunge at him," but that Mosley could not do so because of the right foot.
The promoter Bob Arum tried to explain it thusly: "The problem is this is becoming a pattern. Manny doesn't allow any opponent to fight his fight. He takes the opponent out of the fight because of his speed and because of his power . . . You've got to understand what you're watching. You're watching a phenomenon. I've been around for 45 years, and he's the greatest fighter that I've ever seen."
Still, Mosley offered little initiative even before the foot allegedly hurt, and when the fight concluded Pacquiao turned from Mosley as the challenger approached. Roach found that "very unusual for Manny to do" but said, "He would respect him a lot more if he tried and got knocked out trying to win the fight."
Pacquiao lamented: "I went to throw a lot of punches and he just, you know, go away . . . I tell you the truth, I'm expecting him to fight with me at least five rounds of the 12 rounds, we can test our power, our stamina. What I'm going to do if my opponent does not want to fight with me toe-to-toe? It's not my fault."
Straining for challenge, eager to display the prowess that wowed viewers in his two fights of 2010, Pacquiao found himself limited by his own body. Early on, he said, he held back a tad because he had heard incessantly before the fight that Mosley would try to knock him out early. "Yeah, that's what I heard," Pacquiao said.
Further along through the rounds, Pacquiao wanted to ring up his usual efficient pounding but suddenly his own body would not allow it. Said Roach, "He has such big calves. It does happen," meaning the cramping. Through the middle and end, especially once seeing Mosley improperly credited with a knockdown, Roach said, Pacquiao hiked his aggression and strained for a knockout. "I'm trying, you know, but my leg hurts," Roach quoted Pacquiao as saying in the corner.
Then again, that did blend seamlessly with a sigh of a night.