PACQUIAO WATCH: The hard sell begins

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews/12 February) — Eight-division champion Manny Pacquiao will thread into several unknowns when he goes up against American Shane Mosley although ‘oddsters’ are making him a prohibitive 7-1 favorite to win, probably by knockout.

For one, it will truly be the first time Manny goes up against an Afro-American boxer whose style Bernard Hopkins said will pose problems for the Filipino boxing phenom.

Second, at 39 years old, Mosley will be the oldest boxer Manny will fight.

And third, their May 7 fight will be aired by Showtime, the first time in Manny’s pay per view career after being a regular HBO staple.

While Mosley is a regular among American boxing fans having fought the likes of Oscar de la Hoya, Floyd Mayweather Jr and the late Vernon Forest (twice), he has never been a PPV main headliner.  He never sold a million PPV buys on his own.  In fact, the only time he hit that mark was when he fought Mayweather.  Everybody knows it was Mayweather’s PPV event, of course.

Mosley is also coming off two disappointing fights.  One, a dull draw against Sergio Mora and the other, a loss to Mayweather in 2010 although he kayoed Pacquiao victim Antonio Margarito in 2009.

Technically, however, Mosley is one of the best big men Pacquiao will ever face apart from bitter rival Juan Manuel Marquez.  During his prime, Mosley possessed one of the quickest hand and foot speeds and he packed power in both hands.  Those days however are undoubtedly behind him now.  Mosley now fights in bursts and his age is showing.  When he fought Mayweather, he didn’t have the stamina to finish off Floyd whom he staggered with a vicious right in the second round.  He was already puffing and huffing in the fifth round and went on to lose via unanimous decision.  But if there is anything, Mosley should be credited for his durability.  After all, not many went on to box at his age now and still boasted that they never were stopped in their careers.  Shane is one of the few marquee boxers that were never defeated in an abbreviated fight.

But perhaps the biggest onus of proving that he can sell this fight rests on Manny Pacquiao.

In the absence of Mayweather who is cooling his feet from boxing while facing legal problems, Pacquiao is now boxing’s biggest draw.  In fact, apart from Floyd, he owns the biggest PPV numbers during the last three years, averaging a million buys in his last five fights including one he had with de la Hoya in 2008.

The shift from HBO to Showtime however is unknown territory for Manny.

Showtime has been inactive in boxing for a long while and it has been known to feature so-so fights although it did produce one of the greatest fights in the history of boxing in the first Diego Corrales-Luis Castillo epic encounter.

Showtime however is giving an A-side to its PPV offering of the Pacquiao-Mosley fight – a chance for Manny to be seen in a mainstream television network through CBS in a build up to the fight.

CBS will be airing before its estimated 115 million American free TV audience a three-episode special to include an appearance of Manny at its widely watched 60 Minutes program.

The last time Manny appeared in 60 Minutes, he out ’minuted’ Barrack Obama.  Obama, of course, is the President of the United States.

No wonder, Top Rank’s Bob Arum is pulling no stops to make the obvious mismatch sell like it is one of the biggest fights of the year.

The press, in fact, now also gives attention to Manny’s new hairdo instead of his view on how he will stop Mosley.  Mosley of course is getting all the exposure he needs and the spin doctors from all sides are giving his down-sliding career a needed boost just to sell the fight.

Regardless of what quality and surprises the May 7 will bring, however, people will still flock and buy PPV just to see Manny thrill them again.

The beauty with Manny is his ability to entertain regardless of his opponent’s skill set.

Don’t look now but we are yet to read, see and hear many twists, sidebars and angles to make the this fight sell.

Enjoy and relax.  And until fight time. (Edwin G. Espejo writes for Asian Correspondent).

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