Mutual respect flowed both ways when Filipino Manny Pacquiao and his US challenger Shane Mosley discussed their May 7 WBO welterweight title fight in front of a packed audience on Thursday.
The two fighters are known for their aggressive and entertaining approach in the ring and also for their reluctance to indulge in the pre-bout trash-talking so common in the sport.
“Manny is a special fighter because he goes out there and he puts 100 percent into what he is doing,” Mosley said after he and Pacquiao held a joint news conference at Beverly Hills Hotel on Thursday. “People, they feel it and they see it when he is out there working in the ring. He always tries to fight, tries to win and tries to knock the guy out. He has a love of the sport.”
“We are very similar and I think that’s what is going to make this fight very exciting,” said Mosley, smartly dressed in a pale green suit. “I want to win, he wants to win and it will be a fight to the finish.”
Pacquiao, an eight-times world champion in an unprecedented eight weight classes, agreed.
“I am excited about this match-up,” said the 32-year-old, who wore jeans and sported a new look with his hair grown down to his collar and a silver cross dangling from his left ear. “We both like to keep coming forward in the ring and we like to entertain the people who love boxing. I have to train hard because I don’t want to disappoint them, the people who will watch the fight.”
Pacquiao, who recorded a ruthless points victory over Mexican Antonio Margarito in his most recent fight in November, has been installed as an odds-on favorite by Las Vegas bookmakers for the May showdown at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
However, three-division world champion Mosley fancies his own chances of causing an upset.
“A lot of people are going to be rich, a lot of people are going to make money from this fight,” he said with a smile. “The people that follow boxing know. The people that don’t, they might bet the wrong way.”
For Pacquiao, (52-3-2, 38 KOs), being made a heavy favorite simply gives him extra incentive.
“I know it’s more responsibility for me and that’s why I have to train hard and get myself in 100 percent condition so that I won’t let down the fans,” he said.
Pacquiao’s shrewd trainer Freddie Roach scoffs at the notion that his fighter faces an easy task against an opponent who has a loss and a draw in his last two fights.
“That’s the worst thing in the world you can say because this is definitely not an easy fight,” Roach said in front of a packed banqueting room. “Shane has been there many times and he’s going to rise to the occasion. He is fighting Manny Pacquiao and he will fight the best fight of his life, I feel. We would be fools to underestimate Shane and we will not do that, I promise you.”
Mosley, like Pacquiao renowned for his hand and foot speed, is 46-6-1 with 39 knockouts and believes he suffered in his last two bouts against fighters renowned for their ultra-defensive style.
He dropped a unanimous decision to the undefeated Floyd Mayweather Jr in May and had a draw with Sergio Mora in September.
“It was very frustrating to fight guys that were real defensive, especially with Sergio Mora who was moving around a lot,” Mosley, 39, said. “It was just hard to get anything done. I’d like to thank Manny for taking this fight. It shows what type of fighter he is, what type of person he is. He fights all the best [opponents]. This is one of the biggest fights of my career, if not the biggest.”