By T.K. Stewart
Like baseball, hot dogs, apple pie and Chevrolet - Floyd “Money” Mayweather, Jr. and “Sugar” Shane Mosley are red, white and blue through and through.
Late Friday evening, it was announced that the effort to match Mayweather, originally hailing from Grand Rapids, Michigan with Mosley from Pomona, California has resulted in success.
The fight will take place at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas on May 1. Golden Boy Promotions CEO Richard Schaefer worked feverishly to make the fight happen and he had intoned over the past week that an announcement of the bout could be imminent.
For fight fans, crestfallen when negotiations collapsed to match Manny Pacquiao against Mayweather, the prospect of seeing the two best American fighters on the planet face off against one another harkens back to a day when the United States dominated boxing and names such as Ray Leonard and Thomas Hearns reigned atop the 147-pound division.
Certainly one of the issues plaguing the sport in this country is the lack of household American names. While Americans Bernard Hopkins, Paul Williams and Chad Dawson are all rated in the pound-for-pound top 10, they are virtually unknown to the general sports fan.
But Mayweather and Mosley are familiar to most. While neither fighter has the sort of rabid fan base that makes Manny Pacquiao a phenomenon, both men have respectable name recognition.
In 2007, Mayweather was one half of the highest selling boxing pay-per-view in history versus Oscar De La Hoya. He has been able to build upon that success with his participation on “Dancing with the Stars” and cameo appearances on World Wrestling Entertainment.
Mosley has been fighting professionally for 17 years, has won titles at 135, 147 and 154 pounds and he holds signature wins over Oscar De La Hoya, Fernando Vargas and Antonio Margarito. He is perhaps as well known by mainstream sports fans for his association with the BALCO steroids scandal as he is for his accomplishments in the ring.
Put the two men together and it is quite likely one of the best match-ups of two American fighters that the sport of boxing has seen in a decade. For the first time in years, the undefeated Mayweather will be in with an opponent that has a real and legitimate chance of beating him. That fact alone makes the fight worthwhile.
“I truly feel I am the best fighter out there,” Mosley told me in Las Vegas the day of the Manny Pacquiao vs. Miguel Cotto bout. “These guys don’t want to fight me for a reason and that’s obvious. None of these guys out there can knock me off the top of the mountain.”
There may be some truth in Mosley’s grandiose view. He is ranked in the top 5 on all of boxing’s pound-for-pound lists, but he has been forced to sit idle for the past year as no marquee fighter would accept his challenge. He was to have fought today against Andre Berto, but the fight was cancelled when Berto, who is of Haitian descent, decided to devote his efforts to aid struggling earthquake victims in that country.
“To be considered the pound-for-pound best you’ve got to fight everybody,” said Mosley. “That’s why back when I was the top of the pound-for-pound it was that way - because I fought everybody. To me, it didn’t matter. I moved up to junior middleweight and fought Winky Wright and Fernando Vargas. It didn’t matter to me because I went where the fight was at and that’s the way it should be today - but I don’t see that no more.”
For those that like to punch holes in Mayweather’s claims of superiority, the spot they perceive to be his weakest is his level of competition. While he has beaten established names over the years - many make the argument that none really stood a legitimate chance of seriously challenging him. It is a view that Mosley shares.
“These guys are ducking and dodging me,” said Mosley. “Mayweather, I think, is scared. By avoiding me like they have they are only tearing their own legacy down and bringing their own reputation down. For them, the big fight is right there in from of them and it’s with me. Mayweather tries to say I’m not a pay-per-view attraction but my fight against Antonio Margarito at the Staples Center was a record. There were more fans there for that fight than had ever been there for any sporting event before or since.”
If marketed properly, Mayweather vs. Mosley could be a very lucrative prizefight. The pay-per-view line-up for the first half of 2010 is not an overcrowded one and there is not an abundance of high-profile bouts. Action starved boxing fans will likely be in the mood to see an intriguing fight such as this that pits two well-established fighters in a match-up that will have significant ramifications for the winner and the loser.
For the first time since he faced Diego Corrales in 2001, there is a real and significant danger for Mayweather in a bout versus Mosley. After the talks for the Pacquiao fight imploded, Mayweather was left with very few options when it came to facing an opponent that could provide a bankable payday. Furthermore, Mosley was the only legitimate American name at 147-pounds. It is a fight that makes sense on a number of levels.
“Mayweather keeps saying that he’s only fighting for money now and that he only wants the big fights,” said Mosley. “Well, here I am.”
Aside from the myriad of intangibles that makes this fight an attractive one, the fact that it will result in crowning the best American fighter in the world is another reason it needs to happen. In this day and age of outsourcing, one thing that is somewhat difficult to outsource is live entertainment. Mayweather and Mosley should bring that as both guys have a strong belief they are the best in the world. The fact that both have a strong belief in their country will also make the fight one of pride.
For long lost and beleaguered American boxing fans, who have grown weary of trying to pronounce names like Pacquiao, Povetkin, Klitschko and Wlodarczyk - Mayweather vs. Mosley has come along at just the right time.