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Manny's bout with Mosley struggled to find attention

Pacquiao's bout against Mosley took something of a back seat to talk of a contest between the Filipino and Mayweather.

Our columnist reckons even referee Kenny Bayless could have had one eye on a Mayweather fight during Saturday night's contest. Steve Marcus / Reuters
Our columnist reckons even referee Kenny Bayless could have had one eye on a Mayweather fight during Saturday night's contest. Steve Marcus / Reuters

In departing that singular zone of life called Planet Boxing, the ears ring with the unmistakable 79-year-old voice of the promoter Bob Arum:

"He would beat the [expletive] out of Mayweather. I guarantee you. I guarantee you! And the guy that knows that best is a real student of boxing named Floyd Mayweather Jr."

And while you might yearn for boxing people to share an unvarnished opinion once in a while rather than such mealy-mouthed equivocation, Arum's subject matter rings also. Here is the odd sport in which the thing that has not happened and might not happen hovers above all that has happened and does happen.

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Surround Manny Pacquiao at a press conference before he dominates Shane Mosley, and it takes about five questions for someone to wonder when Pacquiao might fight the undefeated American Floyd Mayweather.

At the weigh-in, a local security guard spots a media badge, walks right up and says: "Do you think Pacquiao-Mayweather will happen?" With the admittedly limited sweat of Pacquiao-Mosley barely dry, a television reporter in the ring asks about Mayweather as Pacquiao stands beside Mosley.

I'm no lip-reader, and the commotion of the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas made it tough to discern, but I believe that when referee Kenny Bayless gave instructions on Saturday night, he finished by saying to Pacquiao: "And are you ever going to fight Mayweather?"

The question has become a staple of the lives of the involved, as rote as breakfast or taxes. "There's not a day that goes by in my life that somebody does not ask me about that," said Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach. "Ukraine, Mexico, wherever I am."

Not too many questions boast the Ukraine-Mexico combination.

"Make that fight happen," people say to Roach with accents from Eastern Europe to Latin America and beyond, whereupon Roach says with characteristic straightforwardness: "I wish I could."

Now the unstoppable question invades the life of Mosley as the 39-year-old veteran walks around anew with the distinction - and distinctive bank balances - of having fought both Mayweather and Pacquiao, even if many inside the arena on Saturday night might quibble with the notion that he "fought" Pacquiao.

In May 2010, at the MGM Grand, Mosley used a hard right cross to stagger Mayweather in the second round before losing by a unanimous decision in 12 rounds. In May 2011, at the MGM Grand, Mosley landed not much of anything on Pacquiao before losing by a unanimous decision in 12. In May 2010, people asked Mayweather about Pacquiao. In May 2011, people asked Pacquiao about Mayweather.

On Saturday night in May 2011, people asked Mosley about both. "The fight would be interesting but I think Manny has good punching power," Mosley said. "I wouldn't say strong, but good punching power, more kinds of punches than I've felt from anybody else. Mayweather is more defensive."

Asked yet again, Mosley said: "The tougher fighter is going to be Manny but, like I said, Mayweather has a great defence, great speed, great IQ in boxing. So it's going to be a difficult fight for both strategies, to see which one works the best."

When people asked Mayweather about Pacquiao, Mayweather repeated his canard about wanting Pacquiao to take a pre-fight drugs test, as if drugs tests ever revealed much of anything given the noble sloth of testing advancement against the grisly haste of drug advancement.

When people asked Pacquiao about Mayweather, Pacquiao got a helpless look as if unsure how to answer the speculative, while ultimately stating readiness and willingness.

"I want to fight because the people want it," he said on Saturday night in the ring.

"It has to be" on his mind, Roach said. "I think he gets reminded of it every day that he travels."

So the clock clucks on ... with Mayweather at a prime 34 and Pacquiao at a prime 32 ... and with the vivid sideshow that Pacquiao happens to have sued Mayweather et al for defamation ... and with a Nevada judge allowing the lawsuit to proceed ... and with Arum saying, "they could fix everything by making a true and contrite apology" ... and with Arum goading Mayweather when noting that Mayweather "has every reason not to" fight.

Meanwhile, within their tandem of kismet, Pacquiao has requested solemnly of Roach: "He asked me if he slows down, will I tell him, and I will, but he's not even close," Roach said. "He can fight for a long, long time with his work ethic and how he trains."

He just might not ever fight Mayweather in the sport the question dominates. Roach said: "My hope level is starting to really, really fade."

 

cculpepper@thenational.ae