It’s a duel a decade in the making, and it’s here: Floyd Mayweather, Jr. and Shane Mosley have both signed to fight one another May 1, giving 2010 the best and most important boxing match on its calendar so far.
The welterweight showdown won’t heal all the wounds left by the abandonment of Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao, but as consolation prizes go, it’s hard to get much better. The top fight that can be made in boxing is Mayweather-Pacquiao, and the next best fight that can be made after that is Mayweather-Mosley or Pacquiao-Mosley. And at long last, Mayweather will be ending a seven-year run of not fighting someone who could arguably be considered the best opponent in his division; Mosley’s achieved a lot at welterweight, and some would rank him above both Mayweather and Pacquiao. Even with the general public and hardcore fans angered by the Mayweather-Pacquiao fallout, Mayweather-Mosley is a fight everyone can get at least pretty excited about — it’s a big enough fight that the UFC moved one of its events off the May 1 date to get out of the way, even.
You can say a lot about who has come out looking prettier from the failed Mayweather-Pacquiao negotiations. I think both men came out with battered mugs. But with this move, Mayweather definitely has seized the upper hand going forward. Pacquiao took a nice fight for March 13 against Joshua Clottey, but Mosley’s better than Clottey, and a considerably bigger star. As big an attraction as Pacquiao has become, it’s really been neck-and-neck who’s been the bigger star between Pacquiao and Mayweather, with Pacquiao getting the edge because he’s a more exciting fighter and he’s been taking the harder challenges. Maybe Pacquiao-Clottey ends up being a more exciting fight than Mayweather-Mosley, but Mosley is out-Pacquiaoing Pacquiao in the “harder challenges” category, for once. Mayweather-Mosley almost assuredly will out-sell Pacquiao-Clottey on pay-per-view. Of course, if Mayweather loses, the Pacquiao fight assuredly doesn’t happen next, and Mayweather will certainly make less fighting Mosley than he would have fighting Pacquiao.
Will Mayweather-Mosley be a good fight? I suspect it will, actually. It might be a little tactical, but I don’t think Mayweather’s going to be able to get too defensive with Mosley coming at him. Mosley has the speed, strength, chin and skill to force Mayweather to fight. There are many who have long thought Mosley’s physical traits and skill set combine to make him the most dangerous foe Mayweather could pick.
That should make it a competitive fight, too, although there are legitimate questions about Mosley’s age and his long layoff. Mosley is 38 to Mayweather’s 32. Mosley hasn’t fought since Jan. 2009. Long layoffs like that are no good for any boxer, let alone 38-year-olds. Bernard Hopkins, an ageless wonder who is still a top fighter at 45, had a more than year-long layoff recently, and when he came back, he looked out of rhythm for the first four rounds or so. Mosley has looked good every other fight or so for the last few years, and he’s coming off a good one, his route of Antonio Margarito, but there are some who think that was just a favorable match-up, as Margarito’s slow-handed brawling style was made for Mosley’s. Some even believe that Mosley’s been over the hill for a while.
I wouldn’t be surprised if age and rust came into play in the fight, and truth be told I wish this fight would have happened before now. If you watch Mosley at welterweight toward the beginning of the last decade compare to near the end of it, it’s clear Mosley’s had a drop-off in speed. But Mayweather is the #2 pound-for-pound man in the sport right now, and Mosley is #3 in my book — even at his age. I think there’s a case to be made that Mosley might be better in some ways now, having finally picked up a trainer, Nazim Richardson, who is one of the best in the biz and can help him make adjustments mid-fight, something he’s not done much of before. And I think Mosley, even at this advanced stage of his career, has to count as the best opponent Mayweather will ever have fought. So it’s a legit fight, even with a potential asterisk.
Oh, and Mosley is going to be hun-gry for this one. These two have history, having been constantly mentioned in the same sentence for forever — the magazine cover at the top of the entry is from 1999 — with the most recent run-in being the picture above, when Mosley challenged Mayweather following Mayweather’s September win against Juan Manuel Marquez. Mayweather has taunted Mosley for his steroid use (unwitting, says Mosley) and the two have accused one another of running from the other for years. Mosley’s been wanting a megafight for a while, and now he has it. He willingly submitted to random blood tests to make the fight, something he’d refused to do for Zab Judah a couple years ago, so that ought to show how much he wants this. Mayweather has plenty to prove himself. We all know about his gifts. His critics have been asking for him to maximize those gifts for a long, long time, and if he wins this fight he can answer those critics. Hell, he’s already answered me. Just fighting a top challenge is all I’ve ever wanted. If Mosley beats Mayweather, well, that’s what happens sometimes when top fighters take on challenges. I will respect Mayweather more in defeat to Mosley than I would had he taken on the likes of Nate Campbell — a lightweight in 2009, and an opponent considered for Mayweather until recently — and beaten him. I’d love it if he made a habit out of this kind of behavior, win or lose.
In an ideal world, Mayweather or Pacquiao would be fighting Mosley after fighting one another; it wouldn’t be one of a couple smaller meals, but the dessert. This, though, is what we’ve got now. And I’ll be looking forward to it all the way to May 1.
[UPDATE: Here’s the Golden Boy news release, if you want to know what everyone’s saying.]
MAYWEATHER’S SIGNATURE SEALS THE DEAL
FIGHT WITH MOSLEY FINALIZED AS BOXING SUPERSTARS AGREE
TO MEET IN ELECTRIFYING WELTERWEIGHT MEGA-FIGHT
ON SATURDAY, MAY 1 AT MGM GRAND IN LAS VEGAS
LIVE ON HBO PAY-PER-VIEW
FIGHTERS AGREE TO PARTICIPATE IN OLYMPIC-STYLE DRUG TESTING
LAS VEGAS (February 3, 2010) – It’s official. Boxing’s biggest superstar and six-time world champion Floyd “Money” Mayweather made his upcoming fight with welterweight mega-star and five-time world champion Sugar Shane Mosley, official today when he signed the contract that pits the two fighters against each other on Saturday, May 1 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas in a mega-bout which will be televised live on HBO Pay-Per-View®.
“This one is definitely for the fans as I wasn’t going to waste anyone’s time with a meaningless tune-up bout and asked to fight Shane immediately,” said Mayweather. “I have said ever since I came back to the sport that I only wanted to fight the best. I think Shane is one of the best, but come May 1, he still won’t be great enough to beat me.”
“I have always wanted to fight Floyd and now it is finally coming true,” said Mosley, who signed his side of the deal last Friday in Las Vegas. “I am already in great shape and ready to show everyone on May 1 that I am stronger, faster and better than he is. I will have no problem beating him.”
In addition to the fight being one of the most competitive and talked about contests in each of the fighters’ careers, Mayweather and Mosley have agreed to Olympic-style drug testing for the fight.
“Floyd has been trying to make this fight for the last 10 years, so he is extremely excited about the opportunity to face Shane,” said Leonard Ellerbe, CEO, Mayweather Promotions. “He can’t wait to extend his undefeated record and perform at the highest level. More importantly, he is also happy to set the precedent for random blood testing in order to ensure fair and safe contests for all fighters.”
“When two champions of this caliber meet in the ring, you can expect nothing but excellence and that is what we are going to see on May 1,” said Richard Schaefer, CEO, Golden Boy Promotions. “Shane Mosley is one of the greatest fighters of this era and I commend him for not only agreeing to the fight against Mayweather, but also agreeing to participate in a testing process that can only help the integrity of the sport.”
“Mayweather-Mosley is a showdown of superstars that fans have been talking about for years”, said Mark Taffet of HBO Pay-Per-View. “It has all the elements of a pay-per-view mega-fight.”
A 1996 Olympic Bronze medalist for the United States, Floyd Mayweather (40-0, 25 KO’s) has since gone on to strike Gold in the professional ranks, winning six world titles in five weight classes to firmly establish himself as one of the most elite fighters of his era. With dominating wins over the likes of world champions Diego Corrales, Jose Luis Castillo, Arturo Gatti, Zab Judah, Oscar de la Hoya and Ricky Hatton, Mayweather was on a meteoric rise to hall of fame greatness when he announced his retirement from the ring in 2008. But he left the door open for a return if the right challenge presented itself and after 18 months of a much needed physical and emotional break from the ring, he returned to boxing on September 19, 2009 with a dominating and spectacular victory over future Hall of Famer Juan Manuel Marquez.
A future Hall of Famer with five world titles to his name, Shane Mosley (46-5, 39 KO’s) has ruled the lightweight, welterweight and junior middleweight divisions over his storied 16-year career and at 38 years old, the Pomona, Calif. native seems to be getting better and better as the years pass. Winner of seven of his last eight fights dating back to 2005, Mosley has defeated the likes of Fernando Vargas (twice), Luis Collazo and Ricardo Mayorga, but his most recent victory also was one of his most spectacular — a ninth round stoppage of Antonio Margarito in January 2009 to win the welterweight world title for the third time.
The 12-round welterweight battle is a highly competitive match-up that already has sports fans across the world buzzing to see two of the sport’s biggest names meet in the squared circle in the premier boxing match-up of 2010.
More information on Mayweather vs. Mosley, including ticket prices, HBO Pay- Per- View information and press tour dates and cities, will be announced shortly.