By Jake Donovan
There was plenty of buzz through social media after Shane Mosley and Ricardo Mayorga engaged in a brief scuffle during Tuesday's press conference in Inglewood, California. According to Mayorga, that was precisely the idea.
Towards the end of the presser, Mayorga looked down and noticed Mosley's girlfriend bent over. The former welterweight and super welterweight champ took the opportunity to cop a free feel, issuing a quick open-hand slap. Mosley immediately charged after Mayorga before the two fighters were quickly separated.
Following reports of the incident, the volatile brawler from Nicargua now claims it was staged to help sell their rematch. The card airs live on Pay-Per-View this Saturday from The Forum in Inglewood, California, but admittedly can use all of the help it can get to drive sales.
Mayorga claims his actions were merely following orders and doing his part.
“It was all a show,” Mayorga (31-8-1, 25KOs) said in a
video sent to and distributed by Nicaragua Canal 4
. “Many people have labeled me as vulgar. It’s true that I slapped the hip of Mosley's girl, but I told them I’m not a vulgar, disrespectful man; it was wrong. I’m a man who admires women.
Given recent events, the confession can be placed in the "for what it's worth" category when it comes to Mayorga, especially considering his previous comments on the incident. Mayorga claimed in an interview with TMZ Sports that he did so "to get inside Mosley's head."
When told that Mosley's girlfriend—still distraught over the incident—would pay Mayorga an extra $10,000 to tie his hands behind his back and have her punch him for five minutes, the never-shy brawler countered the offer.
"How about I for another $25,000, I get to slap her in the ass again," Mayorga replied.
The press conference—which was already scheduled to take place regardless of the fight's status—came hours after a court ruling in Miami denied Hall of Fame promoter Don King's request to enjoin the fight. King claimed that there still existed a valid promotional contract with Mayorga, and his peformance on Saturday night could potentially harm Don King Productions' ability to properly promote the remainder of his career.
Judge Kathleen Williams wasn't buying the story, though not after kicking several holes through Mayorga's suggestions that any such agreement exists without his knowledge. Mosley's testimony went a long way in convincing the courts to allow the matchup to stand pat.
However, the time spent fighting to keep the fight alive also meant pulling the former three-division champ off of the campaign trail to help sell his first event as a lead promoter. Mosley revealed in court that less than 3,000 tickets had been sold and that he had been leaving tickets in various locations throughout the Greater Los Angeles area, a faux scavenger hunt of sorts to help drum up public interest.
If nothing else, Tuesday's press conference at least got people talking.
"It was all for the cameras. Mosley told me to do it to sell the fight," Mayorga claims. "Mosley’s father (Jack, who has also trained Shane for most of his career) reacted strongly because he didn't know it was a publicity stunt.
"I don’t need to sell the fight in Nicaragua because everyone will see it, but here in the United States they have to do everything. It was already planned that she would bend over and then Mosley would aggressively shove me.”
While that version of the truth is sorted out, they still have a weigh-in and fight to get through on Saturday. Assuming the rest goes off without a hitch (relatively speaking), the two longtime rivals fight in a rematch to their Sept. '08 clash at Home Depot Center (now StubHub Center) in Carson, Calif. Mosley scored a literal last-second 12th round knockout of Mayorga to set up a career-resurrecting win over Antonio Margarito four months later
The middle-aged Californian has since fallen on hard times in the twilight of his career, with just one win in his past six starts. Losses to Floyd Mayweater, Manny Pacquiao and Saul 'Canelo' Alvarez came in the span of two years, if only speaking to Mosley's career-long willingness to take on all comers.
However, having to quit on a corner stool in Australia was hardly the manner in which Mosley wanted his career to end. A back injury prevented him from coming out for the 7th round of a disappointing showing versus Anthony Mundine in Nov. '13, his last ring appearance to date.
The loss was believed to be the end of his career—although having previously announced his retirement once before—but he instead spent the better part of the past year searching for the perfect opportunity to stage a rematch with Mayorga. The two have feuded through social media to the point of choosing to settle their differences in the ring.
Mayorga has won two straight, albeit against tissue-soft competition since returning to the ring late last year. The comeback came more than three years after a 12th round knockout loss to Miguel Cotto in March '11, after he which he claimed to be done with the sport.
His declared retirement was referenced in his ongoing court case with King. While Saturday's show will go on sans further interference, King still plans to sue Mayorga for breach of contract, as evidenced by documents showing Mayorga—through a translator—agreed to extend his current contract.
While that lawsuit is pending, the 41-year old needs to make the most of his upcoming rematch with Mosley, for which he will reportedly earn $250,000.
At least one more potential hurdle remains in the form of the pre-fight weigh-in this Friday. Reports from his native Nicaragua have suggested that he was at least 15 lbs. above the contracted limit for Saturday's show and that little to no real training has taken place, in line with his career-long lack of discipline. Specified penalties are in place in the event Mayorga does not make weight, at which point it will be at Mosley's discretion as to whether or not to proceed with the fight.
Mosley has insisted for the past week that contingency plans were in place in the event Mayorga would not be permitted to fight, and such reserves would likely take effect in the event a replacement opponent is needed at the 11th hour.
For now, the hope is to just get through with the rest of the promotion without any more shenanigans taking place—unless of course, they are believed to help sell the fight.
Jake Donovan is the managing editor of BoxingScene.com.