The thing about a man is that you just never really know, do you? Or even if you do know about a man it’s only at a certain moment in time, a certain period of his life. Because people aren’t fixed, they’re not comic book characters, even if we’d like them to be.
Shane Mosley punked out Saturday night, but I’d never call him a punk. At one time the bastard would have cast the world in flames to get the win but that was long gone on Saturday night. It wasn’t just that he turtled and cringed, it was that he didn’t throw a punch in anger; that was the genuine disappointment. I could have dealt with the backpeddle and the cloying hand touches if I felt like there was at least an element of hope and guile behind it.
To throw yourself at Manny was perhaps too much to ask -he clearly didn’t want the deeper hurt – but I still could have been contented if I saw him throw a few in anger. Just one a round, even, and it would have changed the tenor. Because even an outmatched hero needs only a fist/chin connection in time/space to reach inspiration.
Even a blind man might’ve had more of a chance, because a fist in space CAN find it’s mark purely by accident. It can, if it’s thrown with purpose. You don't have to be a romantic or deranged to know that much is true.
But Shane wouldn’t do it. Refused to. I don’t even know that I’d say he was in it before the knockdown, but after the third round it was done. I know his legs were gone and he was tired and there wasn’t much left, but even old lions have teeth, and there’s always enough hunger to close your jaws if you were once king of the jungle, isn’t there?
Not in Shane’s case. It doesn’t fill me with special contempt, or cause me to reevaluate his career. Mosley’s honest to a fault, and that’s what we saw on Saturday night. Perhaps it is a deeper courage to know one’s limits and behave as such, but that’s not what moves us. It is, perhaps, why although Shane was a great champion he was never a particular popular or inspiring one.
I’ve argued before that fighters can be either religious – like Evander Holyfield’s madness – or secular – like Floyd and Bernard Hopkin’s scientific perfection – but I don’t think Mosley was ever quite either. You either have to tell yourself that your body and limits are a lie or you have to have someone from above tell you. When you’re honest is when you’re lost.
And Shane’s lost. I wish him well, that fine fighting champion.
And now to Manny. I know the people are angry, but I just can’t get with it. He was fighting a friendly ghost in there, and he won every second. Was he his beautiful, electric self? Absolutely not, but Mosley wasn’t going to let him perform. There is pride, to the last, and even in the muck.
If Manny had some genuine venom toward Mosley I do believe he could have got the stoppage. But he’s been a merciful God of late and I won’t really blame him. It must be dreadful lonesome atop Olympus and it’s hard to conjure inspiration from discount heroes.
So, no, I’m not particularly angry with him, or with Bob Arum either. There is no good fight out there other than Floyd. You have to know that. Berto, Bradley, Judah… c’mon. We know what Manny would have done to them. I’m still intrigued by Marquez as an unfinished narrative, but the result there is clear.
Manny’s too good for the rest, but he’s a fighter, and so he fights.
I know people want to say he showed some vulnerability, I guess so. He’s not at his best against a retreating foe, but then again, who is? This fight reminded me most of his second bout with Barrera, where Manny looked similarly uninspired against another great but unwilling champion.
That fight didn’t tell us much about Manny, and neither did this one. If Manny loses it’ll be to a great fighter (you know who I’m talking about,) not a style, he’s beyond the level of styles make fights. It’s demeaning, just stop it.
So we wait, and that’s all we can do. Every last mother will be chopped down until we get to the big boss. I don’t know when that’ll happen, but I still have hope. Until then…