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Saturday, May 1, 2010

Collapse of megafight clears way for Mayweather, Mosley

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Mayweather vs Mosley

It began with a pro wrestling moment. Boxing fans hope it ends with one of the sport's best moments in years.

Shane Mosley has waited years for a chance to fight Floyd Mayweather Jr. He tried goading Mayweather into fighting him in September, crashing Mayweather's victory interview with HBO after his return to the ring against Juan Manuel Marquez.

But the reality is, it took many unforeseen circumstances to set up tonight's welterweight showdown at the MGM Grand Garden.

Mayweather (40-0, 25 knockouts) was set to face Manny Pacquiao in a March 13 megafight at the MGM Grand. Each fighter stood to make a reported $40 million. But when Pacquiao refused Mayweather's demand to submit to Olympic-style random drug testing, the fight fell through.

Mosley (46-5, 39 KOs), meanwhile, had plans of his own to fight in Las Vegas. He was to face WBC welterweight champion Andre Berto on Jan. 30 at Mandalay Bay. But Berto pulled out three weeks before the fight when a devastating earthquake struck Haiti, where he has family.

That left Mosley and Mayweather with an opportunity to finally meet, and both fighters were available. Both were in the gym. The coveted Cinco De Mayo date at the MGM Grand was open. Mosley, who had admitted to using steroids in 2003, was willing to do what Pacquiao wouldn't, agreeing to random drug testing.

HBO quickly got on board. The money got worked out, with Mayweather to make $22.5 million and Mosley $7 million. Their long-awaited confrontation was realized.

Now, the question is, can Mayweather remain perfect? Or does Mosley cap his Hall of Fame career by being the first pro to defeat Mayweather?

Both fighters made the 147-pound limit at Friday's weigh-in, with Mayweather weighing 146 and Mosley 147. Mosley's WBA welterweight title is not at stake, but he's out to prove he can still fight at age 38.

"I will knock (Mayweather) out," Mosley said. "I can see he's getting a little more nervous, a little more scared. I noticed it at the press conference (Wednesday) when we faced each other."

Mosley usually doesn't get caught up in that kind of hype. But this is a big-money fight with bigger implications to both fighters' legacies. It was also out of character for Mosley to climb into the Grand Garden ring Sept. 19 to challenge Mayweather, who had just returned from a 21-month absence to rout Marquez.

It was a WWE moment. And Mayweather, who has done work in pro wrestling, was not amused by Mosley crowding the spotlight.

"Don't go disrespecting me!" he yelled at Mosley while trying to conduct his postfight interview.

Mosley has his version of what happened.

"People forget I work for Golden Boy (Promotions), and I had a right to be inside the ring after the (Marquez) fight," he said. "I came over to Floyd because he called me over to the conversation."

Mayweather insists the incident is not fueling his fire for this fight. But it's hard to imagine he's not using Mosley's supposed disrespect as motivation.

"The ultimate goal was for him to be disrespectful," Mayweather said. "I'm not trippin', but a riot could have broken out over something that small."

No skirmishes came about, but the seed was planted for tonight. Now that Mosley finally has what he wants, can he take advantage of the opportunity?

"We've got a Plan A, a Plan B and a Plan C," he said. "If Plan A works, we won't need to go to B or C."

Mosley obviously declines to divulge that plan. But he has the speed, power and experience to make Mayweather fight. He also has Naazim Richardson in his corner, a trainer who knows how to plan for an opponent.

Richardson said the key to beating Mayweather is to force him to fight.

"You hit (Mayweather) the first time in the face and he's going to turn into a dragon," Richardson said. "He's going to be breathing fire. So what you do is step on his tail and hit him in the stomach."

But will Mosley be able to get through Mayweather's defense often enough to hurt him? Mayweather, who appears to have gained some upper body strength to offset one of Mosley's assets, said each fight brings its own set of challenges.

"You prepare different ways physically depending on who you're fighting," Mayweather said. "Mentally, it's always the same -- you want to be focused on what you're supposed to be doing. I always want to look better than the time before.

"Whatever Shane tries to do, I'll be ready. It could end in a knockout. If he comes in, it could end in a knockout. The key is for me to be smart, use my jab and do what I've always done."

Contact reporter Steve Carp at or 702-387-2913.

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