Two days left. Two days! We’re just that close to what’s, thus far, the event of the year in Shane Mosley vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr.
It’s almost like being a little kid and waiting for your birthday; you know it’s coming and you can’t believe it’s almost here. The anticipation is near-boiling when wondering what exactly you’re gonna get. A new bike? The hot new video game platform? Gift cards? Money?
Until further notice, boxing has a new birthday. It’s May 1st.
And barring anything from a failed P.E.D. detection test to “V”s suddenly showing up to abduct Brother Naazim Richardson (or to give Leonard Ellerbe a lift back home), it’s our birthday too.
To think that the whole package just came to fruition in mere months, is staggering, knowing what both Mosley and Mayweather have had to weather to get here. For Mosley, it was a unification battle against fellow welterweight titlist Andre Berto, aborted in the aftermath of the devastating Haitian earthquake. For Mayweather, it was the proposed megafight against pound-for-pound (if you subscribe to that sort of just-for-fun category) king Manny Pacquiao that fell through, when Mayweather proposed Olympic-style drug testing, with the fight serving as the inauguration for his suggestion. Pacquiao’s refusal, coupled with a multi-page defamation lawsuit rendered by Pacquiao (in response to allegations from Mayweather and Company) against Mayweather and Golden Boy Promotions, was the proverbial nail.
Just as surprising is the fact that the public challenge Mosley made to Mayweather, shortly after Mayweather’s tune-up victory over World Lightweight Champion Juan Manuel Marquez, actually paid dividends for the Pomona, California fighter. This isn’t to say that Mayweather leapt at the chance to face Mosley after the Pacquiao fight fell through, but that the cards were laid out just right at just the right time. Mayweather, seemingly as brilliant a strategist outside the ring as he is inside, simply played the right hand of “Hold ‘em.” With the several years of banned substance allegations nagging away at Mosley and the debate as to what was legal or not (Let’s not split hairs. EPO is an always been a synthetic hormone and athletes have used it for years to improve their performances.), at the time they were introduced to him, still ringing in our ears, there was no better mark for Mayweather to validate his anti-doping crusade with.
He certainly didn’t raise the flag against Marquez. For one, Mayweather knew he could beat him. And there wouldn’t have been any urine samples available because “Dinamita” probably would’ve drunk them anyway.
And had not the fight against Mosley come to fruition, would Mayweather have suggested the same measures be taken against Matthew Hatton or Paul Malignaggi?
Floyd insists he’s cleaning up the sport. OK, that’s all well and good. Hey, it’s about time someone did. But you can’t say his reasoning was entirely altruistic. And you can’t even say he feels Mosley is unbeatable, when comparing him to Pacquiao. Mosley’s lost five fights, all to three very good boxers. Knowing this, if Mayweather is truly superior to Sugar Ray Robinson and Muhammad Ali, as he claims, he’d have no problem defeating Mosley, banned substances or not. Should Mayweather continue to fight, regardless of Saturday night’s outcome, I wouldn’t be surprised if the need for pre-fight random testing wanes, because he has to perceive some sort of threat with each subsequent opponent.
That is (barring a rematch against Mosley), unless that opponent is Pacquiao.
But, as Mosley alluded to on the second episode of HBO’s “Mayweather-Mosley: 24/7,” there’s possibly a flicker of intimidation in place, thus the relentless bluster that accompanies the constant talk of being the cleaner fighter. It’s actually the same behavior the typical bully employs when his own true resolve suffers. And it’s a little weird, in Mayweather’s case, because he’s not exactly lacking in confidence. But somewhere deep inside, he knows he can be beaten. Anyone with any sense in his or her head knows there’s always someone out that has his or her number. How they deal with them is an entirely different story.
The chances are good that Mosley knows Mayweather can beat him too, but he’s dealing with it in extreme contrast to his opponent’s methods. It’s a lot like thumbing his nose at Isaac Newton’s third law of motion. Where it’s logical that Mosley could verbally give back as well as he takes, it’s never really been proven because it’s not his style to be mouthy. Instead, he’s more like- and always has been- boxing’s version of a Fulling-Davies mirror, absorbing negative energy.
These two vastly different approaches really define what this fight is all about. From Floyd’s boastful display of pocket money and gigantic bodyguards (which begs me to ask: Is Mayweather having them take blood tests? I mean, if you want to pay for the best, shouldn’t you know whether or not your security force is pure to the point to where you’re not worried that their possibly less-than-adequate endowment fuels an Incredible Hulk-like rage, taking out Gabriel Montoya in the process? I’m just-a-speculatin.’) to Shane’s weekly respite at the local keggling establishment, there’s an apparent representation of nouveau riche vs. lunch pail mentality. Style vs. substance (and don’t take that wrong, Floyd fans. I’m not saying he’s not talented).
And these respective approaches aren’t limited to their “24/7” selves. Despite Mosley being the actual titleholder in this fight, Mayweather has refused to pay the WBA’s sanctioning fee, deeming him ineligible to take Mosley’s belt, should he win. However, the WBC decided they’re sneaking into the MGM Grand Arena with their “diamond championship” belt, a heap of green, glittery gaudiness not even fit for Mr. T. With Mayweather’s affection for WBC hardware, it’s no surprise that Don Sulaiman and Company would see fit to offer Mayweather something so blingy. Yes, I said “offer Mayweather.” Do you really think Sulaiman put a belt on the table with Mosley in mind? The Mosley who Sulaiman once asked an apology of when the former vacated the organization’s “interim” 147-pound belt in order to face Antonio Margarito?
Such a move smacks of Don King’s alleged preparation of the “Sugar Ray Robinson Trophy” for a Felix Trinidad win, prior to “Tito’s” loss to Bernard Hopkins in 2001. I’ll put it this way; if Nadya Suleyman is “The Octomom,” Jose Sulaiman is definitely “The Octoman” for having eight times the balls of the rest of the alpha-bosses.
On the positive side, Mayweather’s refusal to cough up is admirable. It saves him an exorbitant sanctioning fee, thus keeping money out of the pockets of the vultures who run these so-called non-profit organizations. If this “diamond” occasion is anything like the last, commemorating the Manny Pacquiao-Miguel Cotto welterweight fight, there shouldn’t be a sanctioning fee attached and, to my assumption, because the belt serves as a non-defendable trophy. As it should. I don’t recall that 2001 Middleweight Championship Series trophy costing Hopkins or Trinidad anything.
Mayweather’s refusal isn’t entirely altruistic either. One can only imagine such ego wouldn’t allow him to take the first ring walk to Mosley’s second (due to Mosley being the actual titleholder). After all, isn’t this promotion broadly referred to as “Mayweather-Mosley”? With no official belt on the line, “Money” can make Mosley wait as long as he wants, further seeping into his opponent’s psyche.
But remember, Mosley is the Fulling-Davies mirror. Have we ever really seen anything get to him? Short of coming to the ring accompanied by Mosley’s ex-wife, Mosley’s probably just going to smile and shake his head at Floyd’s showmanship. However, that move might just piss off Mosley enough to deliver a Margarito-esque beatdown. After all, didn’t they separate only less than two weeks before January 24, 2009?
Look, silliness and surreally scientific observations aside, what we have here is the best possible fight we can get between two fantastic, prolific pugilists. One is perceived as maybe a little too old and past his prime. The other is perhaps a little too late to start stepping up his game. But we’ll take it because, unlike the recent grumpy grouch-off that was Bernard Hopkins-Roy Jones II, this fight has legs that are just as strong as they would have been five years ago.
Both have something to prove. Mayweather has to prove that his sublime skills can serve him just as well against another top-ten welterweight and Mosley has to prove that his pounding of Margarito wasn’t some fluke.
And Mayweather isn’t just facing a real top-ten welterweight; he’s facing the livest, most dangerous dog that isn’t named Pacquiao. Yes, his defense is near-impenetrable but in the here and now, Mosley’s drive is undeniable. Brother Naazim has taken the Mosley that faced Miguel Cotto and turned him into a focused hunter whose sole mission is to cut the head from the dragon that Richardson has so aptly categorized Mayweather as. No one is truly unbeatable and the right formula lies in each of Mosley’s still quick hands (still rather quick for 38). What’s important is that Mosley relies on his potent jab to set up powerful right hands. What’s more important is timing, knowing what Mayweather’s going to do before Mayweather actually does it. When Mosley connects, for the very first time in his career, Mayweather won’t know what to do.
And that’s horrifying for someone so dominant.
Odds are, despite how dominant Mosley might be on Saturday night, the judges might see it a little closer, mistaking Mayweather’s self-preservation for flash. But if “Sugar Shane” can hone the laser on “Money’s” head, catching him just right, like he did on Margarito (by no means, is this comparing Margarito’s skill to Mayweather’s. Just getting that out there), we might also experience not only Mayweather’s first loss, but his first loss by KO. Frankly, I see Mosley winning by a split decision for being the more active, accurate puncher, delivering the cleaner, more effective punching and controlling the ring.
Saturday’s sure to be a pretty special day, thanks to two special fighters. Whatever the real reason for the anti-doping measures or if Mosley knew he was taking something hinky or not, seven years ago, the past isn’t now. We’re getting what we want and it’s one hell of a gift...and not just because there’s “Money” or a tasteless green, Zirconium-encrusted accessory on the line.