Big fight preview: Floyd’s just too sweet for Sugar Shane

“All I did was constantly beat whoever they put in front of me, I’m never going to get my just due. All these fighters they put in front of me, they’ve all been cake walks for me.

“I’m Floyd Mayweather - all the rest of them are just fighters.”

Floyd Mayweather, April 2010.

EVERY once in a while, a sportsman or woman emerges who is so gifted, so outrageously talented, that they reduce competition to choreography, a beautiful dance with an inevitable finale.

‘Pretty Boy’ Floyd Mayweather is just such an athlete. And boy, does he know it.

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A five-weight world champion who boasts an unbeaten 40 fight record, Mayweather should be loved and revered as one of the greatest fighters to ever throw leather.

But he’s also the undisputed king of trash talk and posturing which means, sadly, that his in-ring achievements are somewhat demeaned in the mind of many a fight fan, who watch his bouts in the as-yet unsated hope that Floyd will one day endure a painful lesson in ego-realignment.

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Tonight, under the gaudy, unblinking lights of Las Vegas, Mayweather may finally have found a dance partner who will step on his toes.

He faces fellow American Shane Mosley in a welterweight bout which has been years in the making and, ironically, only came about after Mayweather’s hugely-anticipated tussle with Filipino icon Manny Pacquiao fell through.

No matter. This match-up is almost as mouthwatering and offers several fascinating parallels. Both men have, at one time in their career, been handed the mythical title of pound-for-pound best fighter in the world. Both seem to have a genuine dislike for the other.

Both have blurring, video-game-like hand speed, which they put to good use in throwing flashy combinations. And, perhaps crucially, both have recently taken extended leave from the sport which made their millions.

Mayweather, 33, returned from a 21-month retirement to totally dominate the world-class Juan Manuel-Marquez last September, while Mosely (46-5, 39KO) hasn’t fought since upsetting the heavily favoured Antonio Margarito back in January last year.

It will be interesting to see how former multi-weight world champ ‘Sugar Shane’ has been affected by his lay-off. Five years older than Floyd, his once-glittering career appeared to be winding towards retirement before he turned back the clock so spectacularly in his nine round demolition of the feared Margarito.

If that Mosley turns up again tonight, betting-favourite Mayweather (40-0, 25KO) will find himself in deep water. Shane is the naturally bigger, stronger man and has twice beaten the legendary Oscar De La Hoya, who ran Floyd very close in their May 2007 superfight.

Boxing experts will tell you that De La Hoya had the blueprint to beat Mayweather, but couldn’t last the pace. One assumes that Mosely, now a close friend and business partner of the Golden Boy, will follow a similar gameplan.

He has to crowd and bully his foe, unleash a strong jab to force him to the ropes and engage him in a fast-paced, breathless battle.

Mayweather’s famed defence - chin tucked into shoulder, reflexes removing him from danger - is so impenetrable that he has rarely been troubled in a fight, but on those few occasions when he has been flustered, relentless pressure was the cause.

The 38-year-old Mosley certainly has the tools to rattle Mayweather, but can he keep up the attack for 12 rounds? He will, after all, have to be the one to force the pace as Floyd never takes risks in the squared circle.

That, for me, is the key to this battle. If Mosley can use his speed and power effectively to keep Mayweather under constant pressure, he can spring another upset.

But I just can’t bring myself to pick against Floyd. His brilliance may make for largely dull and predictable fights, but he is just that - utterly brilliant.

I can see this being a very close fight for the first six or nine rounds, but ultimately Mayweather’s ability to adapt his tactics on the fly, coupled with his superior accuracy and conditioning, will win the day.

Floyd to claim a tight, but unanimous decision. And then Mayweather-Pacquiao has to happen, doesn’t it?

I DIDN’T have space to mention it last week but, in case you missed it, sport in Suffolk got a real boost with news that the Tour of Britain, the country’s biggest cycling race, will pass through the county in September.

While we remain lamentable at most of the so-called ‘major’ sports, our cyclists continue to excel, though generally well below the radar of the mainstream.

Such shameful overlooking of our genuine talent has to stop, and events like the Tour of Britain will hopefully help sell the sport to the uneducated.

The penultimate stage of the tour will start from Bury St Edmunds on Friday, September 17 and wind around the region to a Colchester finish.

Team Sky’s Bradley Wiggins - fourth in last year’s Tour de France -and sprinter nonpareil Mark Cavendish will likely be among the British riders in the peloton.

Top-level cycling is a breathtaking spectacle - a lung-bursting, dizzying blend of speed, athleticism, courage, drama and colour. I don’t care if you follow it or not, as a sports fan you owe it to yourself to be there.

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