Professor Mike Silver is the most noted boxing historian in the history of the sport. He is also the author of the multi-award winning book “The Arc of Boxing”. Mike’s amazing book has developed a cult following and anyone who has read it can understand why. His book is a cornucopia of “insider knowledge” available nowhere else that I know of. Reading “The Arc of Boxing” is like taking a graduate course in the “sweet science”. Truly, you will never look at another boxing match the same way after reading this book.
He is in the Doghouse to give us his unique view of the Mosley/ Pacquiao bout. Every interview with Mike Silver is a lesson in boxing history. Enjoy!
David Tyler - Mike, let's start the interview with your perspective of Shane Mosley's career to date?
Mike Silver - I think his career has been spectacular; he has lost some fights but has surprised us with some big victories. Of course his biggest accomplishments were his two close wins over De La Hoya and his crushing knockouts of Fernando Vargas. And just as it appeared his career was over, he came back to take apart Antonio Margarito. But his last fight with Mora indicated that Shane’s best days are definitely behind him. He had difficulty keeping pace with Mora. Shane became visibly tired and vulnerable. In his prime Shane would have stopped Mora without breaking a sweat. At almost 40 years of age it is time to call it a career.
DT - Mike, how would Mosley fare in the glory days of boxing?
MS – Shane was a natural. He was born to be a fighter. From the beginning of his career you could see he had tremendous potential. His natural speed, reflexes, and flashy combination punches made him a standout in his era. He possessed a solid punch and was difficult to hurt. But if you throw him back 50 or more years ago Shane’s competition would be much tougher. In his prime he lost to Vernon Forrest (twice) and Winky Wright (twice). They were good fighters but Forrest lacked seasoning and Wright’s style was flawed. They would not have stood out during the golden age of the 1920s to 1950s—and neither would Shane. Those four defeats and his loss to Miguel Cotto indicated to me he was lacking the ring generalship and experience necessary to effectively deal with different styles. Years ago Shane would have required more experience and boxing savvy to stay competitive with an Emile Griffith, Luis Rodriguez, Tippy Larkin, Billy Graham, Kid Gavilan, Willie Joyce, Tommy Bell, Freddie Dawson and many other top fighters of the golden age. Let’s not forget that back then there were only 10 champions for 10 weight divisions and the competition to gain a top ten contender spot was brutal.
Let me clarify what I’m saying: If Shane had fought during the golden age of boxing his exposure to the type of superior training and tough competition that was part and parcel of that era would have given him the opportunity to reach his full potential. He definitely had the ingredients and potential for true greatness within him if it could have been brought out. But the way boxing is structured today no fighter can reach his full potential. It is really unfair to compare the best fighters of today with the best of the golden age. The reasons are too long to go into during this interview. If anyone is interested in truly understanding why the best boxers today do not compare to the old timers they should get a copy of my book, “The Arc of Boxing: The Rise and Decline of the Sweet Science”. It will raise their boxing I.Q. by at least 100 points.
DT - Mike is it fair to say Mosley's pinnacle was during the time period he wasfighting Oscar De La Hoya? How would that Mosely have done against Pacquiao?
MS - Yes, that was his prime but he was still good five years ago. If this was the Mosley of the De La Hoya fights I would give him a decent chance to outpoint Pacquiao. He was very effective with aggressive fighters who pressured him. In his prime Shane had the speed, power, footwork, toughness and boxing skill to give Pacman a very tough fight. His hands were just as fast as Pacquiao’s and he could step quickly in and out of range, although sometimes he appeared a bit stiff. It’s a toss up but it would have been a helluva fight. But that is not the Sugar Shane we are going to see. At nearly 40 years of age he will not be able to keep pace with Manny. The only question is can he last the 12 rounds? That depends on how much he has left—always a question with an aging fighter. Shane is a class guy and has been very good for the sport. I am not looking forward to this fight because I don’t think Shane should be fighting. I don’t want to see him take unnecessary punishment. In his last fight Shane struggled to a draw with a very ordinary fighter (Mora) and he is not getting any younger. Still, if Shane doesn’t fall completely apart I think he will surprise many people with his effort but he will still lose a decision. He has that great chin and fighting heart but he doesn’t have the legs, speed, stamina or reflexes to pull off an upset at this stage of his career.
DT – Do you think Mosley’s admission that he took performance enhancing drugs at some point in his career hurt or helped him?
MS - Mosley's career was stained somewhat by taking steroids which I think is detrimental to the fighter both in the short term and long term. The steroids do not add to a fighter’s boxing ability or experience and they give him a false confidence. Fernando Vargas ruined himself taking steroids and it didn’t help him in his fight with De La Hoya who beat him because he was the better fighter. The fighter gains unnatural weight and additional muscle but when the he goes off steroids he never seems able to get back to the fighter he was before taking the drugs, which is what happened to both Mosley and De La Hoya, who also admitted taking steroids.
DT - Your thoughts about Pacquiao's career to date?
MS- He has had a spectacular career to date. What I like about him is that he is a bit of a throwback to the old timers in his work ethic, mental toughness, and conditioning. Manny has a “now you see me, now you don’t” southpaw style that is very difficult to deal with. He’s done everything asked of him. He is a great representative for our sport.
DT - Would Pacquiao have also have been competitive in any era of boxing?
MS – I believe he would have been competitive but let’s keep things in perspective. We are far too quick to label a fighter “great” today without sufficient evidence or analysis. I give Manny tremendous credit for what he’s done but he has succeeded far more today than would have been possible years ago. First of all, professional boxing has over 60 world champions and at least four champions for each weight division, providing many more chances to win multiple titles today. Also, a thin talent pool is stretched even thinner because of all the “alphabet groups” naming their own set of champions and contenders. Years ago Pacquiao would be defending his title against a serious contender not a near 40 year old has been who hasn’t won a fight in over two years. If the Pacquiao that we know today had been active in the 20's, 30's, 40's, 50's he would have developed into a more well rounded boxer out of necessity. Fight fans who have not studied or lived through that time period just don't understand how tough the competition was during those days. Pacquiao is a very entertaining and exciting fighter. He moves around nicely and places his punches well but he is easy to hit and despite his puzzling helter skelter southpaw style he is not a great boxer. He is great for his time but not for all time. Today there is only one Manny Pacquiao. Years ago there were about 20 Manny Pacquiao’s in the featherweight, lightweight and welterweight divisions. But those days are long gone. Most media types are clueless as to what constitutes a great boxer so they jump to the conclusion that Manny is an all time great in the class of a Henry Armstrong. That is over the top in my opinion. I will throw out two names that few remember today who would have been favored to beat Manny if we time travelled him back a few decades. A lightweight contender named Percy Bassett was a terrific fighter of the sort that Manny has never encountered. He was a shifty seasoned boxer with a great jab and footwork who would have Manny missing all over the place while piling up the points. Another boxer who would be too slippery for Manny is welterweight contender Bernard Docusen, who gave a prime Sugar Ray Robinson all he could handle. But I can understand why Manny appears to be great to so many people. It is because he reminds us of the great fighters of the past in that he is closer to a throwback fighter than any other active boxer today .
DT – Mike, we can’t mention Pacman without discussing Floyd Mayweather Jr. Is Floyd one of the best fighters of this generation?
MS – I think he was one of the best but I place Oscar De La Hoya a step above him. Off what I saw in their fight a few years back I think a prime Oscar would have beaten him. Floyd was dominant for so long due to his superior speed and quick hands that were used to defeat slower opponents with third rate boxing skills. He dominated with his athleticism, just like Roy Jones Jr. did. But years ago you needed more than speed to dominate really good fighters. I devote several pages in my book analyzing Floyd’s style and how the old time champs and top contenders would have handled him. If Floyd had been born 50 years earlier his athleticism and natural ability would be the foundation—not the end product—for his development into a seasoned and technically proficient fighter. But in a fistic population that lacks both seasoning and ring savvy fighters with superior athletic prowess will automatically rise to the top. Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Roy Jones, Jr., were the two best fighters of their time because they also happened to be the two most athletically gifted fighters of their time.
DT – I have had several e-mails that Floyd is in discussions for a possible fight with Sergio Martinez later this year……
MS - Dave, I don't want to discuss that because it’s like arguing how many angels can fit on the head of a pin. It’s a waste of time to talk about it because Floyd Mayweather Jr. will never fight again.
DT - Mike, I can't let that statement go...why will he never fight again?
MS –He got a taste of the kind of celebrity that few fighters do. He always avoided getting his pretty face banged up so now he is doing the ultimate avoiding by not even entering the ring! I think he is thrilled that he got out of the sport without any brain damage. By not fighting he guarantees that he will remain an undefeated fighter. I think his stint on "Dancing with the Stars" got him thinking he can be famous without getting hit. Floyd wants to be a celebrity without risking his life in the ring. And who can blame him. Yet, despite his millions he is a troubled individual. I don’t think it will happen but the best therapy for him is to fight again. He is self destructing for some reason. He must fight again to save himself.
DT - Back to Pacquiao and Mosley. There is a school of thought that for Mosley to win he must get Pacquiao to stand in the pocket and trade punches with him. Is it possible for Shane to win that kind of "throw down"?
MS – School of thought? Sounds more like the “school of the thoughtless”. When was the last time you saw Pac “stand in the pocket”? The guy is a perpetual motion machine. He constantly moves in all different directions, seemingly at the same time. Shane will have to tie him up to slow him down and look to land solid counters. People will watch this fight because they want to see Pac in action against anyone. He is at that status. At least Shane will get a nice payday. But as I said before, I just hope he doesn’t take too many punches. Even if Shane does get a flurry in he can't sustain it at his age and will be answered by six to ten punches by Pacquiao, putting Shane on the defensive.
DT - So we both think Pacquiao will win easily?
MS – How easily depends on what Mosley has left. We know exactly what Pac will do. We don’t know what Mosley will be able to do. He definitely has got to be better than he was against Mora. If he fights like that he will lose almost every round. And he has got to be strong at 147 pounds. On the plus side his experience can nullify some of what Pac will try to do. He will try and land hard shots to Pac’s body and head in an attempt to slow him down and then tie him up. He has the talent and ability to make Pac look ineffective at some level. I don’t think it will be a blowout if Shane can somehow muster one last great effort. But that’s a long shot at his age. He will lose but at the same time he may still be able to muster the moves that will expose Pacquiao’s flaws as a boxer and bring him down a notch.
DT - Mike, since we discussed the steroid use of Mosley, it’s probably only fair to visit that issue with Pacquiao since he also has been accused of using these drugs.
MS – There has never been any proof that Manny has taken these drugs. For now it’s all speculation. So I won’t accuse him until we learn otherwise. Mosley only admitted taking these drugs in the face of overwhelming evidence from the Balco investigation. With many athletes looking for that extra edge, it's not out of the question that both are taking illegal steroids. I’ll admit that in Pacquiao's case it's just hard to understand how he went from 130 pounds to 152 pounds so quickly. It's very rare for a small framed fighter to put on that kind of weight and muscle. It might be related to drug use but we can't say for sure. There have been a few other name fighters who’ve gone from flyweight to welterweight or even higher. Jimmy McLarnin and Georges Carpentier come to mind. Young Stribling started out as a 128 pound junior lightweight and grew into a heavyweight in less than a dozen years. They certainly can’t be accused of taking growth hormones or steroids since all three fought before they were invented.
DT - Why is Mosley getting the title shot?
MS - The only reason is because he is now one of Bob Arum's fighters and he has a recognizable marquee name. It used to be that a young fighter would take on an aging ex-champ to add a name to his record. After he won a title he did not defend against over the hill “names”. But everything in boxing is upside down and backwards today. As you know, boxing has no bottom when it comes to selling to a gullible public all sorts of scams and bullshit. Today’s promoter/managers are staging “title” fights within their own little fiefdom to ensure that all the money stays in house. They control promotional rights to the titleholder no matter who wins. But this structure stifles competition and can create a conflict of interest. It’s the type of structure that foists a Mosley vs. Pacquiao flawed fight upon the public at $60 dollars a pop for pay per view.
DT - Let's assume Pacquiao wins again against anaging fighter. Where does he go next?
MS – His style of fighting brings on a lot of wear and tear, even when he dominates. I believe that he has two or three more good fights in him before we see him slow down significantly. I guess they can keep him fighting has beens. Maybe next they’ll dig up Macho Camacho for a title defense. I think Pacquiao himself is getting tired of the sport. It’s the loss of his competitive drive for boxing that will eventually cause him to retire. He is in the driver’s seat. Pac is a multi-millionaire with a second career as a politician in the Philippines and he is involved with many other activities outside of boxing. I believe that he will hang 'em up after a couple more fights and when he does it will be a sad day for boxing.
Readers: Agree or disagree with Professor Silver? Please let me know your thoughts.
Many Thanks for reading this interview and I hope you enjoy the fight. Para sa maraning Filipinong kaibigan ni Pacquiao 1st round knockout.
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