LAS VEGAS?The collegial vibe of the fight was too much for Manny Pacquiao?s trainer Freddie Roach.
What had been billed as a tough fight that would end with Pacquiao possibly knocking out Sugar Shane Mosley had turned into a virtual sparring session, with the American often on the run to avoid the Filipino?s punches.
The ultra-friendly demeanor of the two fighters included touching gloves before every round?something usually saved for sparring sessions?and hugging before the 12th round.
?Why are you touching gloves? Is he your friend?? Roach asked his fighter. ?I hate that. You?re supposed to be trying to knock this guy out.?
?I told him in the last round, ?You?ve got to knock this guy out, because it?s embarrassing,?? Roach said. ??Make it personal and knock this guy out. Show the world how good you are.? He said to me he was trying but that his leg hurt?He told me, ?Coach, I?m trying, I?m trying.??
Pacquiao returned to his corner before the 12th round to an unfamiliar soundtrack of steady boos rising from the MGM Grand Garden crowd.
The fans weren?t jeering their beloved Filipino congressman. They were incensed that Mosley apparently was scared to fight him.
With Mosley in full retreat from the opening round, backpedaling and scrambling simply to avoid getting knocked out, Pacquiao won his 14th straight fight by a lopsided unanimous decision.
Pacquiao knocked him down in the third round and never stopped chasing him, but Mosley survived on his feet and even got credit for a bogus knockdown in the 10th. Many experts thought Pacquiao?s fall was the result of a push.
Referee Kenny Bayless admitted later he had made a mistake in ruling it a knockdown and apologized after the fight, said Roach.
Marquez is next?
The signs of the fight?s pacing and style came early, perhaps as early as the sixth round, when someone in Mosley?s corner yelled, ?He?s not your friend, Shane!?
Still, Mosley continued to engage far less than expected.
?He backpedaled the whole night,? Roach said. ?He never took one step forward to try to press the action. His jab is in mothballs. I never saw it?I like Shane, he?s a nice guy, but he?d better quit before he gets hurt.?
The atmosphere likely won?t be so friendly in Pacquiao?s next fight. The three main candidates for Pacquiao?s next bout haven?t usually been the hugging types.
A third fight with Mexican star Juan Manuel Marquez apparently is promoter Bob Arum?s first choice, fulfilling the dreams of fans who thoroughly enjoyed their 2004 draw and 2008 split-decision win for Pacquiao.
Choice is Mayweather
If Marquez doesn?t like the deal, Arum will turn to bruising 140-pound champ Timothy Bradley or veteran Zab Judah, who would both welcome the chance to be on the sport?s biggest stage.
But Roach would prefer to fight Floyd Mayweather Jr., believing it?s the most intriguing matchup and the most lucrative opportunity for a Filipino fighter who says he?s likely to retire after a few more big bouts, although Roach believes Pacquiao could fight into the deep end of his 30s.
But if Mayweather still won?t answer Pacquiao?s calls, Roach hopes they?ll face Marquez.
?All I hear from him and Nacho (Beristain, Marquez?s trainer) is how they got robbed,? Roach said. ?I?d like that fight one more time, see how much they?ve both changed since that time. I think we?ve gotten a lot better.?
A meeting with Bradley, the two-belt champion from Palm Springs, California, would be a brutally physical bout against a fighter with a reputation?deserved or not?for throwing elbows and head-butts.
?It?s not an easy fight for Manny, but I feel (Bradley) is just not big enough,? Roach said. ?He would need a miracle.?
Roach said Pacquiao could meet Bradley or Marquez at a catch weight around 144 lb, but Pacquiao doesn?t want to get much smaller than that.
Roach also wouldn?t put Pacquiao in against British 140-lb champion Amir Khan, saying Khan ?is getting better, but he?s not at that level yet. Manny would be too much, too soon.?
Yet the discussion always comes back to Mayweather, who?s facing many more upcoming court dates than fight dates as he whiles away his mid-30s in his Las Vegas mansion, trashing Pacquiao on Twitter and gambling heavily on sports.
Pacquiao has won eight fights since the end of 2007, beating an array of quality fighters and veteran greats from Oscar De La Hoya to Marquez and Miguel Cotto. Mayweather has fought just twice in that time, enjoying a brief retirement before beating Marquez and dominating Mosley on May 1, 2010.
?There isn?t a day in my life that goes by that somebody doesn?t ask me about that fight,? Roach said. ?People say, ?Make that fight.? I wish I could.?
Dropping like flies
Pacquiao?s 12-round demolition of Mosley may have sent another of the sport?s all-time greats into retirement.
His opponents are dropping like flies as four of his last five foes?before Mosley?have not fought since losing to him. Mosley could very well continue that trend.
De La Hoya retired after losing to Pacquiao while Antonio Margarito, Ricky Hatton and Joshua Clottey haven?t been seen in the ring since.
Pacquiao has not lost a fight in six years, leaving many boxing observers to wonder what challenges there are out there for him. Reports from Agence France-Presse, Associated Press and New York Times News Service