Polar opposites set to collide in Vegas
LAS VEGAS -- Opposites attract, right?
That is clearly one of the major reasons for the significant interest in the Shane Mosley-Floyd Mayweather Jr. fight, the biggest bout of the year so far.
Of course, Mayweather and welterweight champ Mosley rank among the best in the sport -- Nos. 2 and 3, respectively, behind Manny Pacquiao on most pound-for-pound lists, including ESPN.com's. Whenever the best fight the best, there will be massive interest, as will be the case when Mosley faces Mayweather on Saturday night (HBO PPV, $54.95, 9 ET) at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.
But the divergent personalities of Mayweather and Mosley -- who are meeting because talks between Pacquiao and Mayweather fell apart earlier this year -- have certainly added to the interest in the bout.
Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer, who is promoting the fight, said at Wednesday's final news conference that not only does he believe that the fight has a chance to break the pay-per-view record of 2.46 million buys set by the 2007 showdown at the MGM Grand between Mayweather and Oscar De La Hoya, but he has dreams of 4 million.
To Mayweather, he and Mosley are "totally different" fighters, even though they each rely on considerable speed and skills.
"I think that he's a fighter that always worries about landing one big shot," Mayweather said. "He's worried about who is extremely strong and I worry about being smart and winning. So we approach fighting in two total different ways, always.
"I mean, Shane may be loading up with wide shots and kind of using not really a full jab and I use a fuller jab. You know when I shoot my shots, I look at my opponents and I look where I'm punching. When Shane punches a lot of times, he closes his eyes, if you go back and look at some of Shane's fights. So I think we are two total different fighters."
Are there any similarities?
"Yes," Mayweather said. "We're fighting May 1."
And there will be millions watching. While the fight is an intriguing matchup of well-known American stars, and also looms as Mayweather's stiffest test in years, the stark differences in their personalities is a big part of the attraction.
Mosley is somewhat modest and low-key. He isn't a big trash-talker -- never has been -- and he isn't followed around by a swollen entourage. His security detail consists of just one man. Mosley is also generally regarded as a sincerely nice guy.
Who R U Picking?
TV lineup for the Golden Boy-promoted HBO PPV card from the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday night (9 ET, $54.95):
• Welterweights: Shane Mosley (46-5, 39 KOs) vs. Floyd Mayweather Jr. (40-0, 25 KOs), 12 rounds
• Welterweights: Saul Alvarez (31-0-1, 23 KOs) vs. Jose Miguel Cotto (31-1-1, 23 KOs), 10 rounds
• Featherweights: Daniel Ponce De Leon (38-2, 32 KOs) vs. Cornelius Lock (19-4-1, 12 KOs), 10 rounds
• Welterweights: Hector Saldivia (31-1, 24 KOs) vs. Said Ouali (26-3, 18 KOs), 10 rounds
Mayweather? Modest and low-key don't go in the same sentence. Not even in the same paragraph. He flaunts his jewelry and wads of cash without being prompted. He's a huge trash-talker -- always has been. His entourage, including a presidential-sized security detail, is large. Although Mayweather can certainly be a nice guy in quieter moments, publicly, at least, he embraces the villain role and portrays it to the hilt.
There was a time, however, when Mayweather, 33, apparently wanted to be like Mosley, 38, who was a few years ahead of Mayweather in his professional career during one meeting Mosley recounted.
Mayweather claimed a bronze medal in the 1996 Olympics before turning pro, not long before Mosley won a lightweight title in 1997, the first of his titles in three divisions. Mayweather would eventually win titles in five divisions, but back then Mosley said Mayweather looked up to him.
"I think he was just out of the Olympics and he was maybe 2-0, 3-0, something like that," Mosley said. "I came to his dressing room and I was telling him that he's a great fighter. I said, 'You're going to be world champion one day. You look real good.' And he's was like, 'Oh, man, thank you.' Basically he was just saying, 'You're doing good, too.' I think I was the champion then or I was getting ready to be the champion. He said, 'Hopefully if I can be just like you, it will be great, if I can win a title and all that stuff.' So we were both giving each other props and stuff about how good we were. That was it.
"He just wanted to have the accomplishments that I had accomplished in my professional career. He said, 'If I can have those accomplishments then I'd be happy too, if I can be like you and have all the accomplishments that I have.' I don't know if [he wanted to be] exactly like me per se, but just the accomplishments and everything I've done in my boxing career at that time, he was impressed with and he let me know that then."
Not so much anymore.
Instead, Mayweather has belittled Mosley's considerable accomplishments and maintained absolute confidence going into the fight, usually pointing to his undefeated record, even though he's been heavily criticized for hand-picking his opponents since moving up to junior welterweight in 2004.
Mosley (46-5, 39 KOs) will be the first elite welterweight Mayweather (40-0, 25 KOs) will have faced, but Mayweather's confidence is supreme.
"There is a blueprint to beat him because he has lost five times already," Mayweather said. "But there is no blueprint to beat me. I think he feels the pressure. I don't have any pressure. I am just getting ready to fight.
"Mosley has problems with boxers. He lost to Winky Wright [twice] from a one-handed jab in his face all night long. Now he is facing someone sharp as a razor with two hands. He has been dropped [once] and wobbled on numerous occasions. If he tries to bum-rush me, he is going to get clipped. No one has a chance to beat me. All of these fighters do the same interviews, talking about how they are going to beat me. Guess what? Same interviews, same results. It hasn't happened yet."
Unlike most of Mayweather's past opponents, Mosley hasn't been goaded into trash talking. He's remained calm in the wake of vicious verbal attacks by Mayweather and his uncle and trainer, Roger Mayweather, including seemingly daily reminders of Mosley's admitted involvement with Victor Conte and the BALCO scandal.
Mosley admitted under oath at a grand jury that he had used performance-enhancing drugs before his 2003 rematch with De La Hoya, but he also agreed to Mayweather's stipulation for making the fight that they use random urine and blood testing as performed under the strict policy of the United States Anti-Doping Agency.
So far, both fighters have been blood and urine tested multiple times during the lead up to Saturday's fight. Keith Kizer, the executive director of the Nevada Athletic Commission, said Wednesday that USADA officials have forwarded him results from all of the random testing done so far and all the results have been clean. Kizer said Mosley has been tested 11 times and Mayweather 10 times, with about half for each fighter being blood tests and the other half urine tests.
"At this point, I'm not angered by it," Mosley said of Mayweather's PED talk. "I'm just trying to go to the fight and be the best I can be in the fight. Right now at this point, we're getting ready to fight now."
Naazim Richardson, who is training Mosley for the second fight after guiding him to a ninth-round upset knockout of Antonio Margarito to win a welterweight title in January 2009, steadfastly defends Mosley against the Mayweathers' attack.
"When you bring up the boxer, talk about the boxer, but if every time you crack your mouth open you're running your mouth about some nonsense from before, then everybody's going to start asking questions about everything," said Richardson, alluding to Mayweather's past admission that he had his brittle hands injected with a numbing agent before past fights.
"If we kept it on boxing, you all never heard me step out of the line of boxing because I don't care about none of this other nonsense about nothing else but boxing," Richardson said. "That's all that's important to me. I don't consider Floyd to be nothing but a great athlete. I don't consider even the kid they were talking about before, Pacquiao, to be nothing but a great athlete. If I don't have any proof on anybody about anything, I won't say anything.
"Shane has never tested positive for anything. He agreed to the test, but now every time they bring his name up, you've still got to hear about steroids this and steroids that. OK, the man already agreed to your test. What do you want him to do for you now? He's not going to lay down for you. Is that just some mental [thing]?"
Mosley simply isn't taking Mayweather's bait.
"I know me not reacting to his antics or whatever, that's just me blocking all that stuff out and wanting to fight," Mosley said. "I don't really care about the different things that are being said. That doesn't really matter. What matters is the fight and what happens in the fight. So that's my whole interest and I kind of block all that other stuff out.
"I think a lot of people who have fought Floyd have let his talking get to them and they go into the fight angry. They are fighting with their emotions when they are in the ring. I'm not going to do that. I know how I want to fight Floyd and I know what I want to happen, so I am going to do what I have to do to win."
The desire to win -- one thing at least that they do have in common.
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.