A Long Time Ago, in a Boxing Ring Far, Far Away…

Remember about a year ago when big fights were still being scheduled on a regular basis along with standard ESPN broadcasts? The upcoming fight schedule is unusually full for such a short period of time, and even more unexpectedly, the fights are worth watching. The obvious match to anticipate includes the biggest star in the business, Floyd Mayweather Jr. and one of the biggest fan favorites in the business, Miguel Cotto. Not to short-change buyers who shell out $65+ for the pay-per-view event, the undercard for Mayweather-Cotto will be as much of a co-feature as any match could be. Saul Alvarez is already posing a legitimate challenge at 154 though he inspires trepidation in enthusiasts based on his past competition and lack of defensive flare. His opponent in Shane Mosley is, at worst, one of the best fighters of his era, certainly one of the best welterweights. While he might not adjust to deficiencies of age like Father Time Bernard Hopkins, Mosley has never looked old. While the win would mean the immediate revitalization of Mosley’s career, a win for Alvarez, especially a decisive one, would be even more important. There are many obstacles to overcome in the loaded Jr. Middleweight division, but defeating a skilled, well-respected veteran at his natural weight in Shane Mosley would grant Alvarez access to big money deals with the best in boxing. As one of the most impressive fighters to break into the scene in recent years, winning a title before turning 21, I could hope to see Alvarez in that position.

That said, Mosley has a lot more for a guy like Alvarez than he did in his only briefly thrilling bout with master Mayweather. In that fight, Mosley came out sharp and surprised an overconfident Mayweather with hard straights and impressive speed, being much closer to Mayweather’s skill level than his past competition. Mayweather, however, was undaunted by the miscalculation. Mosley landed a lightning bolt straight right hand that compelled Mayweather to hold on to regain his composure. As thrilling as the turn of events was, Mayweather quickly gathered himself and declared “This is not the punch you are looking for,” and proceeded to undermine all of Mosley’s further efforts. Demonstrating to me for the first time that he had the ability to fight with real heart and destructive intent, rather than just standing back and relying on speed, many critics claim Mayweather showed his age. I, on the other hand, think Mayweather showed just how good he really was against an opponent who really was good competition. If nothing else we saw that Mosley can still muster the impressive ability to quickdraw on masters of speed. I also saw that Mosley’s straights are still formidable and that his defense was good enough to leave his hands by his waist for most of the fight. What does that mean for Alvarez? Alvarez has been criticized for his defensive skill and he’s never been in the ring with a fighter as dangerous or as precise as Mosley. Power is said to be the last element of an aging fighter’s game to go, so precision straights could spell defeat for Alvarez. What it really means is that Alvarez has to find the right range to fight Mosley, probably staying inside and possibly neutralizing his speed with body shots. What it means is that both fighters have enough tools at their disposal to win. It means that the fans will be getting a great night of boxing. Check my fight predictions page for my educated guess.
But wait, there’s more.
The overdue rematch between Hopkins and Chad Dawson will be about a day’s wages cheaper than the first fight and still important to the division. The name “Bad” Chad Dawson took on a different meaning after his deplorable tirades in response to the “no contest” ruling. I hope he loses so we can see him degrade himself further with the excuses and accusations that are sure to follow. Based on his past competition (what relevant fight was he in recently?) and his barely impressive record (30-1) I think he’s lucky to be getting a fight with a historic figure like Hopkins.
The buzz must be causing some jealousy because it seems Pacquiao is trying to compete with an exciting undercard of his own. Before the entirely predetermined result of Pacquiao-Bradley is revealed, fans will be presented with a selection of great talent including Jorge Arce (60-6-2), Guillermo Rigondeaux, Mike Jones and the highly-anticipated Jesse Hart. As I see it, the upcoming fights will reinvigorate fans who may have lost interest in the purgatory of uncompetitive matchups they have subjected to since late last year.  All the fighters scheduled for the next two weeks are important to boxing.  When the dust has settled, we’ll have entirely new perspectives on many of them.  Hopefully, these perspectives won’t stifle further freedom to create competitive fights.  Boxing is back.

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