Make no mistake; Manny Pacquiao is a global figure and the face of boxing. In fact, it would be safe to say only Muhammad Ali could make the same claim.
Then why was it necessary for the Filipino legend to make his way to the Beverly Hills Hotel last Thursday and launch the first of three press conferences announcing his welterweight bout with Shane Mosley at the MGM Grand Garden Arena?
In truth, it wasn’t, but it never hurts to shed light on the manly sport.
“I’m excited to fight on May 7,’’ Pacquiao said, who has strung together 13 consecutive wins after losing to Erik Morales in March 2005. “I don’t want to disappoint the fans when they watch this fight. I pray no one gets hurt.”
As a 7-to-1 favorite, Pacquiao (52-3-2 with 38 knockouts) should inflict most of the damage, but was gracious when speaking about Mosley, a four-time champ in three weight divisions.
“I’ll train hard for this fight,’’ Pacquiao said. “He’s not an easy opponent. Shane’s a great fighter and a champion. It’s hard to say right now what will happen. It’s going to be a good fight. It’ll be a good show.’’
Top Rank President Bob Arum presided over the event, and thinks the odds are too high.
“Styles make fights,’’ he said. “I know how great Manny is, but Shane’s strong and a champion. Shane’s going to shine. Manny’s going to shine. They’ll provide entertainment.”
This may be true, but Mosley, at 39 years old, is nearing the close to his Hall of Fame career, and has fought only four times since September 2008.
“I’ve had a couple of layoffs,’’ said Mosley, who has won 46 of 53 bouts with 39 knockouts. “I had a layoff before the [Antonio] Margarito fight. It’s interesting how fights are.”
The clash with Margarito took place in January 2009, ended in the ninth round and was the best Mosley — who has six losses and a draw — has looked since his two victories over Fernando Vargas in 2006.
Mosley is pleased at the chance to meet the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world.
“This is one of the biggest fights of my career, maybe the biggest fight of my career,’’ he said. “We’re both competitors. I’m very thankful that Manny has given me the opportunity.’’
Mosley was candid when asked how many fights he has left, but didn’t offer a prediction. “I have four or five, including this one,’’ he said. “Manny’s faster. I have heavier punches.”
In his last two bouts, Mosley was lackluster. In his most-recent outing last September at the Staples Center, he earned a draw with Sergio Mora, but should have won.
Mosley lost a unanimous decision to Floyd Mayweather Jr., and was effective only in the second round when he twice buckled the legs of the undefeated welterweight king.
Pacquiao is trained by Freddie Roach, who feels the fight will be a challenge.
“I look forward to this,’’ he said. “It’s a whole new game plan. This is not going to be an easy fight. If they think it’s going to be easy, they’re foolish. He’ll rise to the occasion. I’m not going to underestimate him.’’
Roach said Mosley is dangerous.
“Shane has speed and power, and is a very intelligent fighter. He’s a counter puncher. He’s wanted this fight for three years. He will fight the best fight of his life.”
Of course, Roach said his charge will win.
“I don’t know if he’s going to knock him out,’’ he said.”If he does, we’ll be the first to stop him, and that will be the icing on the cake.”
Rick Assad has been a sportswriter for more than two decades. He has a political science degree from UCLA, a journalism degree from CSUN, and is a staff writer for diamondboxing.com, and is a columnist for socalboxing.wordpress.com. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.