Tuesday May 3rd, 2011

Great athletes need challenges. And in 1996, Roy Jones felt he was running out of them. So that June, the then-No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world decided to create one. On the afternoon of his super middleweight title fight against Eric Lucas, Jones suited up for the USBL's Jacksonville Barracudas. He played 14 minutes that day. Seven hours later, he made Lucas quit in 33.

"What would really be great would be to fight a true double-header -- two championship fights in the same night," Jones told The New York Times. "People would think I couldn't do it."

Manny Pacquiao doesn't need any new challenges. The No. 1 fighter in the world has plenty right in front of him. A day in the life of Pacquiao includes managing countless media obligations (which he rarely turns down), promoting his burgeoning singing career (his first U.S. single was released last week) and posing for pictures with the scores of fans that seem to follow him everywhere. Then there are his Congressional duties in the Philippines -- he met with President Obama in February -- and, oh yeah, training for the biggest fight of the year, Saturday's welterweight showdown with Shane Mosley (9 p.m. ET, Showtime PPV).

"That's my life, to keep busy," Pacquiao said. "I like to do a lot of things in my life. This is how I motivate myself [for] this upcoming fight."

Indeed, Pacquiao could probably use an extra dose of motivation. The selection of the 39-year-old Mosley has been roundly criticized, from the casual fans who continue to clamor for a deal with Floyd Mayweather to the diehards who insist Juan Manuel Marquez was more deserving. In his heyday Mosley was a feared fighter, but his recent resume -- a 12-round thumping at the hands of Mayweather and an uninspired draw with Sergio Mora -- suggests his competitive days are behind him.

Pacquiao, however, believes Mosley has something left in the tank.

"Shane Mosley is still very strong and he moves more like he's 30 years old," Pacquiao said. "I'm excited for this fight because Mosley can throw a lot of punches and he wants to fight toe-to-toe. He's a former pound-for-pound champion and he's a good fighter."

Pacquiao's trainer, Freddie Roach, agrees.

"Mosley brings speed, power and he has a good team behind him," Roach said. "I think we have a big challenge ahead of us. The way we go about attacking Shane is going to have a lot of thought behind it. If you just walk into Shane and attack him you just walk into the fire. He'll counterpunch the hell out of you and he has knockout power."

Ah, the knockout. That's more fuel for the fire. Pacquiao has leveled nearly every opponent put in front of him the last two years. Oscar De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Miguel Cotto didn't make it to the final bell. (Antonio Margarito did, but only because Pacquiao took it easy when referee Laurence Cole ignored the Filipino's repeated appeals to stop the fight.)

Margarito had to table negotiations for a July fight with Cotto because his post-Pacquiao face had not healed enough for sparring.

Joshua Clottey went the distance with Pacquiao but only because he spent the entire fight using his arms as a shield.

Mosley won't do that. Power is the last thing to go in a fighter and Mosley has still got some pop. He knocked out the steel-jawed Margarito in 2009. He buckled the elusive Mayweather in the second round. Mosley is a come-forward, press-the-action fighter who isn't in many dull scraps.

There's another thing about Mosley: He has never been knocked out. It's a fact Pacquiao's team is keenly aware of and is using as a tool to further motivate their man for this fight.

"It would be incredible for Manny to be the first one to stop him and just prove to the world how much better he is than that guy [Mayweather] that couldn't stop him," Roach said. "I think Manny will fight at a fast pace. I don't know if (Mosley) will be prepared to fight at that pace but we're going to force the action and we're going to go for it this time. If it comes, it comes. I think Manny is definitely the guy to do it."

Pacquiao insists that the myriad potential distractions aren't an issue. He took a lengthy break from training after the Margarito fight to commit to his political career, a hiatus Pacquiao says has made him hungrier. Roach claims this has been Pacquiao's best training camp ("From Day 1 he has been on fire") and says they are "100 percent ready" with a game plan to beat Mosley. To avoid overconfidence, Roach has spent most of his time reviewing Mosley's best fights (specifically the one against Margarito) and not his most recent body of work.

"If Mosley brings his best we're ready for his best," Roach said. "I don't think there is any room for an upset. We've done everything we can to get ready for the fight."

Gone through everything, too. As Jones would probably agree, when it comes to challenges outside the ring, Pacquiao has more than enough.

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