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Thursday, March 4, 2010

Mosley, Mayweather bring out fans in force

Mayweather vs Mosley
WASHINGTON -- Your weekly random thoughts …

• Wednesday in the nation's capital was a nasty, rainy, cold day, so I wasn't sure what to expect in terms of turnout when I made the half-hour drive from my house in Northern Virginia into the District (that's what we locals call it) to attend the second of three Shane Mosley-Floyd Mayweather promotional tour stops ahead of their much-anticipated welterweight title showdown May 1 at the MGM in Las Vegas.

It was a nice surprise to see the weather sure didn't keep any of the fans away. The Lincoln Theatre was packed to capacity (about 1,000 people) with fans and media for what I'll refer to as more of a pep rally than a news conference. Even after the doors were closed, there must have been at least another 500-plus people standing around outside wanting to get inside. Washington is definitely a good fight town.

The folks who did make it inside were treated to video presentations about both fighters, music, and an endless loop of audio and video hyping the fight's promotional theme, "Who R U Picking?" (I'll disclose my pick the week of the fight.) Then the fighters were introduced, which included Mosley and Mayweather standing nose to nose and jawing at each other for the second consecutive day before they had to be separated.

Unlike the previous day in New York, however, they didn't put their hands on each other. You have buy the pay-per-view to see that. I just hope Mayweather is as aggressive during the fight as he was when he went right to Mosley's chest after his introduction.

The "news conference" was standard fare but I am sure quite exciting for fans who have never attended such an event.

Golden Boy's Richard Schaefer and Oscar De La Hoya and Mayweather adviser Leonard Ellerbe hyped the pay-per-view and their impressive array of sponsors. HBO's Mark Taffet said his piece. So did the MGM's Bob Halloran (including an unexpected but very kind shout-out to yours truly). Naazim Richardson, Mosley's trainer, spoke eloquently. And the fighters spoke amid cheering (and some booing) from the crowd. Everyone spoke about what a great match it was and what a great fight it will be.

What I thought was great was that both Mayweather and Mosley did their best to sign every autograph, pose for every photo and chat with the fans after the formal program. In what other sport can a regular Joe get so close to the stars?

This fight is going to be huge. Maybe not Manny Pacquiao-Mayweather huge, but huge. Like all promoters, Schaefer loves to predict big numbers for his PPV fights. He should. He's trying to sell as many units as he can. He predicted that Mayweather-De La Hoya would break the all-time PPV record in 2007, and it did. Last year, he predicted that Mayweather-Juan Manuel Marquez would crack a million buys, which few believed. It did. So when Schaefer predicted Wednesday that Mosley-Mayweather would break the Mayweather-De La Hoya record, I didn't laugh this time. It could.

• Whoever made the decision not to allow Roger Mayweather to talk during the formal program: Thank you. He adds nothing constructive whatsoever, unless you consider a stream of profanities and insults to other trainers who are not even there constructive.

• It was nice to see Paul Williams get such a rousing ovation from the fans who attended the Mosley-Mayweather tour stop in Washington. Williams lives part time in Washington, and I think if he would fight there he could become an attraction in a city that hasn't had a big fight since Mike Tyson's career ended against Kevin McBride.

• Not sure what to make of this, but I have been hearing rumors for a couple of months that Telefutura is going to get back into boxing with Golden Boy, which used to have dates on the network before it axed boxing at the end of 2008, getting most or all of the dates. I asked Schaefer about it and I got a very stern, "I'm not commenting." I pressed him. "I'm not commenting," he said. I later talked to De La Hoya and asked him about it well. He also gave me the stern no comment. Hmmmmmm.

• So, James Toney is going to the UFC to try his hand at mixed martial arts. Yeah, like that's going to work out well, right? At least if he's in UFC, we won't have to listen to him yammer on and on in indecipherable language about how he deserves a shot against Vitali or Wladimir Klitschko.

• I've enjoyed watching featherweight Antonio Escalante fight for years. Once again, he turned in an exciting fight last week on "Friday Night Fights" when he won a decision against childhood rival Miguel Roman in a terrific match. Escalante (22-2, 14 KOs) has won nine fights in a row against mostly solid opposition, and I believe he deserves a title fight. He's good. He's exciting. He's become a strong ticket seller in El Paso, Texas. And he comes across as a humble young man. "Miguel Roman gave me one of my toughest fights ever and it was an honor sharing the ring with him," Escalante said after the win. "This is the type of fight I always want to give my fans, and I think I showed that I'm willing to leave everything in the ring in order to get the victory. Now, bring on the best in the division, because I'm ready for them." How can you not root for a guy like that?

• Congratulations to Tavoris Cloud, this year's valedictorian at the Winky Wright School of Boxing Business.

• The WBC announced that it will begin offering "youth world titles" for women younger than 24 years old. Couple of thoughts: just what we need, more titles, and are there even enough quality female fighters to fill the actual world titles? Just another pathetic money grab by the WBC and its president Jose Sulaiman, who undoubtedly will be re-elected unanimously in the organization's next balloting.

• The hideous WBA is at it again. This time the worthless organization has approved a vacant interim welterweight title bout between Souleymane M'Baye and Antonin Decarie, who will meet April 10 in Paris. What an absolute disgrace. Mosley is the WBA's titleholder and he happens to be defending it against Mayweather in a huge fight May 1. There is absolutely no call for an interim title. But that has never stopped the WBA. Decarie at least is undefeated, although against average-at-best opponents. But for M'Baye to get a title shot is preposterous, especially considering he has never even had a welterweight fight. Excuse me, I'm going to be sick.

• How big of a month is April for the super middleweight division? Huge. All four titles will be up for grabs in a two-week period. On April 17 in Montreal, Lucian Bute defends against Edison Miranda while Robert Stieglitz defends his strap against Eduard Gutknecht in Germany. A week later, the other two belts will on the line in a pair of Super Six tournament fights on April 24 as Andre Ward defends against Allan Green and Carl Froch defends against Mikkel Kessler. If you're a fan of the '68 pounders, that's a tremendous two weeks.

• What does Timothy Bradley Jr. have to do to get a significant fight?

• Where in the world does Kendall Holt go from here?

• Former heavyweight champ Riddick Bowe is working as a trainer at a gym in Fairfax County, Va., where I live. When I heard about that, I found it ironic because Bowe never liked to train very much when he was fighting.

• Happy belated birthday to German promoter Wilfried Sauerland, who turned 70, or 17, if you ask him. Sauerland was born on Feb. 29, in a leap year, and jokes that he has celebrated only 17 "real" birthdays.

• Is it possible for Rodel Mayol to have a fight that simply ends in a decision or a knockout?

• DVD pick of the week: This one never gets old. In fact, before I made a DVD of this fight, my original VHS tape was specially marked so I could easily find it among my thousands of tapes because I watched it so often. Back to Las Vegas' Mandalay Bay on Feb. 19, 2000, for an all-time classic: the first battle between Erik Morales and Marco Antonio Barrera. The junior featherweight championship fight began an epic rivalry that produced an all-time great trilogy and ignited a golden era of action fights between 122 and 130 pounds. Morales won the split decision in one of the greatest slugfests ever, which includes the legendary fifth round. Whenever I watch the fight it takes me back to what was going on in my life at the time. I vividly remember watching the fight live on HBO while sitting on the floor in my upstate New York apartment packing boxes in anticipation of my move to Virginia a few weeks later. I had just been hired to become the boxing writer at USA Today. I was fortunate enough to be ringside for Barrera-Morales 2 and 3, but the first one was the best.

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