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Tuesday, March 2, 2010 - 5:16pm
By DAVE SKRETTA
AP Sports Writer
NEW YORK (AP) - Music blared over the loudspeakers, smoke
billowed across the stage, and the curtain dropped to reveal Floyd
Mayweather Jr. and Shane Mosley dressed to the nines as a crowd of
several thousand inside the Nokia Theater let out a roar.
They won't meet in the ring until May 1 at the MGM Grand in Las
Vegas, but the first stop on a whirlwind, three-city publicity tour
Tuesday included plenty of pomp and pizazz.
After lengthy introductions that would have made silver-tongued
Michael Buffer blush, the unbeaten Mayweather and the welterweight
champion Mosley sauntered to the middle of the stage and stood face
to face. Jawing turned to pointing, pointing turned to shoving, and
before long, promoters from both camps were rushing forward to
Perhaps the altercation was staged, but it's hard to fake the
animosity between them.
"The thing is this: He may be the champ, but we all know belts
don't do nothing but collect dust," Mayweather said, smiling.
"I'm in the check-cashing business, baby."
Both should be able to cash hefty checks after this fight,
arguably the biggest in the sport not involving Manny Pacquiao.
Mayweather and Mosley have been circling each other for years, and
the possibility they would finally meet really gained traction when
Mosley crashed a post-fight interview after Mayweather defeated
Juan Manuel Marquez last September.
Richard Schaefer of Golden Boy Promotions brazenly predicted the
fight will do 3 million pay-per-views, which would shatter the
record set by Mayweather and Oscar De La Hoya in 2007.
"We have the two best American fighters of our generation,"
Schaefer said. "Mayweather has become a household name, let's face
it. Love him or hate him, he's a household name. And with Shane
Mosley, you have the perfect dance partner."
The fight came together after weeks of negotiations between
Mayweather and Pacquiao failed to produce an agreement. The
Filipino fighter refused Olympic-style drug testing - Mayweather's
camp has accused Pacquiao of using performance-enhancing drugs -
and he will instead fight Joshua Clottey on March 13 at Cowboys
When potentially the richest fight in boxing history fell
through, Mayweather (40-0, 25 KOs) turned to the next biggest
attraction in the loaded 147-pound division.
Mosley (46-5, 39 KOs) was supposed to face Andre Berto in a
unification fight in January, but Berto's family was severely
impacted by the earthquake in Haiti, forcing him to back out.
"It's been a long time since I got a chance to show the world
that I'm the best fighter, and that's all that I really want, to be
the best," Mosley said. "I'm going to take my hat off to
Mayweather, because I didn't think I was ever going to get a fight
from any of these top fighters. He said, 'Yeah man, I'll take that
challenge. I'll fight you."'
Both fighters will undergo random blood testing, which they
claim will set a new standard for safety in boxing. Such an
agreement perked some eyebrows considering Mosley has acknowledged
unintentionally using steroids before defeating De La Hoya in 2003.
Mosley claims it was a mistake made by a strength coach
connected to the BALCO lab, and insisted again Tuesday that he
lives a clean life - even before Mayweather dredged up the past.
"I can't say how many fights Shane has won in the past because
we know Shane was using enhancement drugs. That's something we do
know," Mayweather said. "It's no different than Pacquiao. I
offered Pacquiao the fight. I said, 'We'll give you $25 million.' I
never met a man who wouldn't take a $25 million drug test."
While it's hard to forget about the failed fight with Pacquiao,
there are plenty of signs that the best alternative is quickly
gaining mainstream attention.
Schaefer said the sponsorship portfolio already includes AT&T
and StubHub, and that about 14,000 tickets were snatched up Tuesday
in the first 15 minutes they were on sale. HBO is also planning the
eighth installment of its Emmy-winning "24/7" series during the
weeks leading up to the fight, offering behind-the-scenes access to
each fighter's training camp.
Then there's the publicity tour, which moves to Washington,
D.C., on Wednesday before wrapping up Thursday in Los Angeles.
"This fight reminds me of back in the days of Sugar Ray Leonard
and Tommy Hearns, the fights we saw back in the day, the classic
fights that brought boxing back," said De La Hoya, president of
Golden Boy Promotions, which counts Mosley as a partner.
De La Hoya wasn't shy about a prediction, either.
"I've fought both fighters and I already know what's going to
happen," he said, invoking Mayweather's former "Pretty Boy"
nickname. "I already know there's going to be a knockout, I
already know, and it ain't going to be 'pretty."'
(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)