The questions are the same, the phrasing and the people asking are the only things that vary.
Do you have the speed to hang with Manny Pacquiao, Shane?
Do you think you have to get to him early to have any shot at winning this fight?
Don't your recent snoozefests with Floyd Mayweather and Sergio Mora mean you have nothing left in the tank?
Shane Mosley hears these questions, absorbs them. They have been coming at him for nearly a year, ever since he was demolished by Mayweather last May and fought to an uninspired draw against Mora in September. He has answered them so many times his responses spill out with little hesitation.
"[The questions] give me a lot of motivation to overcome [them]." said Mosley, who will challenge Pacquiao on May 7 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. "I don't read too much into [them]. I don't care that people are saying I'm an underdog or not. What matters is what happens in the ring."
Mosley, of course, has accomplished a lot in the ring. He's a former three-division champion who has defeated Oscar De La Hoya (twice), Fernando Vargas (twice) and Antonio Margarito. In an era where ducking opponents has become a polished skill, Mosley has never shied away from anybody.
• PHOTOS: Shane Mosley's Biggest Fights
But Mosley was outclassed by Mayweather and flummoxed by the awkward style of Mora, leading many to conclude that his best days were behind him. Bob Arum might be one of them. It's been widely speculated that Arum, who was critical of Mosley while he was under contract with promotional rival Golden Boy, cherry-picked the 39-year-old Mosley from a pack of candidates because of his fast-fading skills.
"Most of you saw the Erik Morales [vs. Marcos Maidana] fight," said Mosley's trainer, Naazim Richardson. "And most of you saw the [Jean] Pascal-[Bernard] Hopkins fight. And we keep counting these guys out. These aren't just old men who box. These are legendary fighters who have age on them now. There's a difference between a legendary fighter who has age and an old boxer. These aren't just men. When these guys were in their prime, they were exceptional.
"Michael Jordan could probably still come out now and make the starting five on any team in the NBA. We discount these older guys, but we forget these were special guys. When special gets old, you can still be extraordinary."
Mosley has one strategy against Pacquiao: start throwing punches and don't stop. The best defense is a good offense, Mosley reasons, a strategy few fighters have employed against Pacquiao. Watching film of Pacquiao's previous opponents, Mosley noted that none of them were able to match their usual punch output.
"You have to land a lot of punches," Mosley said. "You have to land a high percentage and more every round. It's like when I fought Margarito; before he was throwing like 1,000 punches, but when I fought him he only threw 500. It's all the angles and the way you move and how you turn him to where you make him not throw as many punches."
Power, Richardson says, is another advantage for Mosley. Though Pacquiao has tangled with some heavy hitters such as Margarito, De La Hoya and Miguel Cotto, Richardson believes he's never been in the ring with someone with Mosley's pop.
"I said something to Shane the other day and I still hold firm with it, which was, 'You've never been hit by Shane Mosley,' " Richardson said. "You see, I've been hit more times by Shane Mosley than Shane Mosley has been hit. So Shane Mosley is quick to say this guy is a gladiator and this guy is going to fight me. But it doesn't matter. I have to prepare Shane Mosley for a defensive fighter with every man he faces, because if Shane hits you solid, you're going on the defensive. I don't care how much of a gladiator or how tough you were before, when Shane tags you, you'll be a defensive fighter. So he doesn't see it the way I see it. Pacquiao could become a defensive fighter in this fight, too."
Putting Pacquiao on his heels would be a rare sight. And few expect it. Top Rank has reportedly already opened a dialogue with Juan Manuel Marquez about possibly facing Pacquiao in the fall and virtually every expert is predicting a lopsided win. Mosley already turned back the clock on his career once when he battered Margarito. This will likely be his last chance to do it again.
"I have a lot of advantages over [Pacquiao]," Mosley said. "Now all I have to do is exploit his weaknesses. Once I exploit them, I should be able to take care of business."
Kelly Pavlik's battle with alcohol reached its breaking point last year, when a family intervention ended with the ex-middleweight champ spending 60 days in a California rehab facility. He says he has been sober for seven months and will make his return to the ring against Alfonso Lopez (21-0, 16 KOs) on the Pacquiao-Mosley undercard.
"Everything has fallen right back into place quickly," Pavlik said. "I kept myself in shape, too. The last time I had a year off, it was a different situation. There was a staph infection and then we had the reaction to it. I really wasn't able to do anything constantly being on antibiotics. That wasn't really a rest or my idea of taking a break or a year off.
"This time, it's totally different. I come back now and my energy level is just totally different than what it's been in the past. I'm able to do things in the gym now where before it was a struggle. Everything came back and it's been very fluent. Granted, in the first couple of times of sparring, some of the timing was off. But that's going to happen and there's nothing you can do about it. But it all came back pretty quick this time and everything is going good right now."
Pavlik will be making his debut in the 168-pound super middleweight division. He says cutting his weight to 160 became difficult the last few fights and that he expects his power to be "the same or better" in his new weight class.
"There are a lot of great fighters out there in the super middleweight division, but with the exception of [Lucian] Bute in Canada, they're not particularly big attractions in terms of ticket sales," Pavlik said. "In order for them to make a big-ticket fight, they have to [fight] Kelly Pavlik. It's not a question of who Kelly is going to go after, it's a question of who the team wants Kelly to fight."
Pavlik says he is in complete control of his personal life and has not been overly tempted to drink since his stint in rehab.
"It was his decision to quit drinking," said Jack Loew, Pavlik's trainer. "People have to realize that. We didn't put a gun to his head and make him go to California. He did that. He's trying to make himself a better person and I don't think people are giving him as much credit as he deserves. I think everybody involved in this is going to benefit from what Kelly did. Not from what we had Kelly do, but what he did. I think everyone is going to see a whole different fighter come May 7."
Five questions for the Golden Boy Promotions president:
SI.com: We're seeing a lot of top prospects getting knocked off recently. What do you make of that?
ODLH: I would say a lot of these fighters take success for granted. These fighters don't really understand what they have. Once you have [success], you have to work even harder to keep it. These guys have to realize that boxing is not a game. Boxing is a sport where you always have to be in shape and ready to go. There are no playing games inside that ring. A lot of these young guys, they take it for granted. They think they have it all and they get comfortable. But you have to work hard for every single fight.
SI.com: Your best prospect right now is Saul "Canelo" Alvarez. He's got a big fight coming up against a veteran in Ryan Rhodes. What does Canelo have to do to avoid joining that list?
ODLH: One thing Canelo relies on his power. To him, in his young career power is everything. He's going to learn sooner or later that power isn't everything. It's part of your game plan, but it's not just about punching someone with full force. Rhodes is no pushover. He's an awkward, strong, real fighter. This is a legit fight. That's why Team Canelo is going up to Big Bear [in California] and training for seven weeks. These are the kind of fights he needs to get better.
SI.com: Ever tempted to get more hands on with these guys in training?
ODLH: I actually told myself that I wasn't going to get involved. But I think as we speak now, it might be a good idea to go up to Canelo's camp and show him a few tricks that I have up my sleeve. I could do that with our young fighters like Robert Guerrero, Jorge Linares, Abner Mares. They can listen to me and can soak it in and learn.
SI.com: Think Ricky Hatton will fight again?
ODLH: You know, Ricky is still a young guy [32 years old]. He is going to make his own decision. Do I still think he can fight and beat some of these guys? Absolutely. He would have to dedicate himself, get back in the gym and take a couple of tune-up fights. Like what Erik Morales did, starting out against lesser opposition. He needs a plan. I think if he does decide to fight again, he needs a plan. He can't just do it in one fight.
SI.com: Think you will ever fight again?
ODLH: I do have to admit one thing: A few weeks ago I was thinking about coming back. I was thinking about going to [Golden Boy CEO] Richard Schaefer and telling him to get me a fight. Then I played golf one day and my back went out on me. It goes out quite often. I'm not going to make myself look bad out there and get laughed at. But I was thinking about it, that's for sure.
Have to take issue with your statement that the cruiserweight division is one of the weakest in the sport. Maybe because only one American is rated highly in the weight class we don't take it seriously, but as it is with the heavyweights it is extremely tough to break through in. I would rate it one of the five deepest in all of boxing. Tommy Zibikowski has zero chance of beating any of the belt holders there unless he goes full-time boxing for the next three or four years. Even then, I would put it at 10 percent given his poor performance in his last outing.--Martin, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Cruiserweight stinks, Martin. And it's not just because they are as anonymous as a stock broker on Wall Street. The alphabet champions are loaded with question marks and there isn't one established star. A lot of it has to do with the fact that no one actually wants to be a cruiserweight. There's no money there. They either stay at light heavyweight, where there are big names like Bernard Hopkins, Chad Dawson and Jean Pascal, or they move up to heavyweight, like Tomasz Adamek and David Haye did. A unified champion would go a long way toward making the division credible.
That Yuri Gamboa isn't a bigger draw is interesting. All you have to do is see him fight and if you like excitement, you have to love Gamboa. Hopefully one of the big networks like HBO will give him a big push. Learning English wouldn't hurt him either.--PNUT, New Orleans
I really don't understand why more fighters don't make more of an effort to learn English. Learn English, get on more American television, get more press, build a bigger following. I bring this up with Lou DiBella all the time when we're talking about Sergio Martinez. And he agrees with me, which is why you are starting to see Sergio use a few English phrases at his press events. If Martinez had conversational English skills, he'd be a star. I really believe that. And Gamboa certainly would be a bigger name than he is.
With [Juan Manuel Lopez's] loss to Orlando Salido, will the Lopez-Yuri Gamboa fight still happen?--@jamie924
It will, eventually. Top Rank took a big chance not making that fight sooner and the gamble blew up in its face. Juanma will get another shot at Salido, probably this fall, and a Lopez victory would restore some of the momentum for a Gamboa fight. But it will never be the same level of fight it would have been if both had gone into it undefeated.
Will Pacquiao-Mayweather ever happen?--@PineyPointG
The news that Top Rank is trying to cut a deal with Marquez is disturbing. Not because Marquez isn't a worthy opponent for Pacquiao (he is), but because if that fight gets made, it means we won't see Pacquiao-Mayweather until at least next May, if at all. A source close to Mayweather insists that Floyd fully intends to return to the ring. But his crazy demands (Arum says he turned down a $50 million guarantee) and reports that he has light-hitting Paul Spadafora in his sights makes me wonder if Mayweather is really interested in a Pacquiao fight at all.