Saturday, April 9, 2011

SNB Nuggets (Pacquiao-Mosley, Moreno, Marquez-Concepcion)

Most boxing observers expect Manny Pacquiao to defeat Shane Mosley rather easily.  If Pacquiao were facing a prime Mosley of five years ago, then this fight might be a different proposition.   My only question about the fight is this:  Will Pacquiao survive his Floyd Mayweather moment?

In the second round of the Mayweather-Mosley fight, Shane Mosley uncorked a vicious right hand that buckled the knees of Mayweather.  It may have been the single best punch ever to land on Mayweather.  I'm not sure that Mosley could have thrown it any better.  Mayweather was immediately hurt by the punch and Mosley landed two additional right hands that caused damage.  By the end of the round, Mayweather had collected himself and was out of imminent danger.  He boxed beautifully against Mosley throughout the rest of the fight and went on to win a dominating points victory.

Pacquiao will face a similar moment against Mosley.  Mosley can still punch and Pacquiao's defense is not on the same level as that of Floyd Mayweather's; Mosley will land some big right hands.  Pacquiao has met some real bangers at welterweight and above (Cotto and Margarito), but he has yet to meet a fighter with one-punch knockout ability at the higher weights.  Mosley will not be able to chase Pacquiao around the ring and it is very unlikely that he will win a points decision.   His only way to win is by a knockout.  If Pacquiao can withstand Mosley's right hand, like Mayweather did, then the fight will be easy.  If not, then Mosley may have a real shot.

Two months ago, Anselmo Moreno was a fairly anonymous bantamweight titlist from Panama.  Known as a mover and definitely not a puncher, Moreno had made eight title defenses against solid competition.  Two points about his title reign: he had defeated opponents in hostile territory (France, Germany) and four of his defenses were won by narrow, split decisions.  He had never fought in America or Mexico and his overall exposure within the sport had been limited. 

Today, Moreno surprisingly finds himself in the middle of a fierce bidding war between Top Rank and Golden Boy.  As Nonito Donaire (who as of now fights for Top Rank) and Abner Mares (Golden Boy) emerge as stars in the sport, their promoters need to find suitable opponents, because Top Rank and Golden Boy fighters will not face each other.  

Reportedly, Moreno is on the verge of signing a long-term contract with Golden Boy, but he seems to have an internal management problem, whereby multiple people claim they have managerial rights to negotiate on his behalf.  What looked like a case of Moreno magically finding himself at the absolute right place at the right time has taken some additional strange turns.  

Moreno has a short window to make some real money.  Up until now, American promotional entities and networks with their finite resources weren't clamoring to enlist a slick, seemingly anonymous boxer.  If his management situation gets cleared up, he may have some great fights ahead of him.  It would be a shame if he squandered this wonderful opportunity. 

Hernan Marquez and Luis Concepcion engaged in a vicious war last Saturday night in Panama.   Fighting for a flyweight title, both fighters scored knockdowns in a wild first round.  Subsequently, Marques dropped Concepcion in the third and tenth rounds.  Throughout the fight, there were multiple round-of-the-year candidates, with both fighters throwing constant barrages of power shots.  The ringside doctor examined Concepcion's eye after the tenth round and stopped the fight, giving Marquez the TKO victory.

As an offensive battle, this fight most reminded me of the Arturo Gatti-Micky Ward matchups.  Like Gatti, Concepcion dances on his toes on the outside but in the pocket he stands flat-footed throwing punishing right hands with reckless abandon.  With his white shorts and wide ring stance, Concepcion even looked like a smaller version of Gatti, inching forward, walking down his opponent and taking two shots to throw his straight right hand.  Marquez moves a little more than Ward did and he is a southpaw not an orthodox fighter.  He lacks Ward's signature hook, but Marquez displays the same willingness to take punishment.  Like Ward, he believes that despite all incoming fire, eventually his power shots will determine the outcome of the fight.

Like the Ward-Gatti fights, Marquez-Concepcion exhibited virtually no defense.  Concepcion's only defense was his chin – not a good strategy for a long career; Marquez would at least circle a little bit.  A major component of boxing is not getting hit.  Marquez and Concepcion abandoned that important precept during their fight.  Consequently, their matchup was not fought at the same skill level as the Israel Vazquez-Rafael Marquez or Diego Corrales-Jose Luis Castillo fights. 

That's OK. If their fight only met the quality of the first Ward-Gatti fight, that lofty standard is still more entertaining than 99.9% of the fights in boxing history.  If Marquez and Concepcion aren't great fighters, they made a great fight. 

All-out wars are a lot of fun to watch.  It's what makes us boxing fans.  Too many fighters today lack the willingness to engage in such fierce battles.  I applaud the competitive spirits of both Marquez and Concepcion.  It was a great fight to watch and both fighters gave career-defining performances.  If they can adequately recover from last week's savagery, there will be big fights for both on the horizon.  Without additional commitments to defense, I think the ceilings for both fighters have been set.  Again, so be it.  There's a huge market for entertaining, offensive-minded sluggers.  If only we could find a dozen more.

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