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Mayweather-Mosley: A reason to celebrate

30
Jan

The sport finally has a true feel-good story. Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Shane Mosley have agreed to fight on May 1 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, as Yahoo! Sports first reported. It’s not Mayweather-Manny Pacquiao but it’s a heck of a consolation prize.

All those who care about boxing were disgusted only a few weeks ago when the Mayweather-Pacquiao fight fell apart over the timing of random blood testing. And a lack of worthy opponents for Mayweather afterward only added to the frustration.

Now, however, we have a matchup that can be described as an event. Richard Schaefer of Golden Boy Promotions, which represents Mayweather and Mosley, compared the All-American matchup to Leonard-Hearns. That might be a stretch but it does have a similar feel.

Mayweather is either the No. 1 or No. 2 fighter in the world, a sublimely skilled boxer who has rarely been challenged in his career. That, his critics will say, is in part because he has been reluctant to accept genuine challenges.



Well, Mayweather has taken away some of their ammunition by first agreeing to fight Pacquiao – yes, he really intended to go through with the fight – and now signing to face someone deemed by almost everyone a legitimate threat.

“All these people who called Mayweather a coward, all these names, saying he’s avoided this and that ÔǪ this is a reality check,” Schaefer said. “The reality is that Mayweather hasn’t avoided anyone and he certainly isn’t afraid of anyone. The fights just have to make sense.”

This fight made sense. Mayweather won’t enjoy the wind fall he was expected to receive against Pacquiao but will make a fortune nonetheless.

Schaefer, who correctly predicted that Mayweather-Juan Manuel Marquez would exceed 1 million in pay-per-view buys, believes this one could approach the record 2.15 million buys of Mayweather-Oscar De La Hoya in 2007. That translates to a lot of money for both fighters.

And, more important to the fans, Mayweather has a live opponent who contrasts sharply from the blown-up, much-too-slow Marquez that was embarrassed by him last year.

Mosley, in effect, has won the lottery. He lobbied aggressively for a lucrative fight against either Pacquiao or Mayweather with the knowledge that his career is winding down at 38 years old.

One of boxing’s true nice guys more or less gave up by accepting a lower-profile fight with Andre Berto. However, Berto pulled out because of the earthquake in Haiti – his ancestors’ homeland — and the door was opened for a fight against Mayweather.

Thus, Mosley will receive the payday of a lifetime and get the chance to prove that he remains one of the best fighters in the world pound for pound.

And yes, Mosley, who admitted to taking performance-enhancing drugs before he fought De La Hoya in 2003, will happily submit to the Olympic-style testing upon which Mayweather insisted in negotiations with Pacquiao. That’s a small price to pay for an opportunity like this.

As De La Hoya said, “I believe Shane will raise his hand and say, ‘Take me the laboratory.'”

Some experts believe Mosley will provide a stiffer challenge to Mayweather than Pacquiao would’ve because he has similar hand speed and ability but is naturally bigger than the Filipino fighter. Mayweather has opened as about a 2-1 favorite.

The many Mayweather haters, fed up with his arrogance, are licking their chops at this very moment wondering whether the time for comeuppance is at hand.

Others might look at Mosley’s career-invigorating knockout of Antonio Margarito last January as an illusion, a victory over a slow-handed opponent ideally suited for Mosley’s style. Remember, before that, Mosley’s performances against Miguel Cotto and Ricardo Mayorga raised speculation that he was in decline.

The many Mayweather fans scoff at Mosley just as they scoffed at Pacquiao, the thinking being that no one is capable of beating their man.

The bottom line is this, though: It will be fascinating to find out who’s right. And fascinating is the last word we’d associate with a Mayweather matchup against the likes of Kermit Cintron, Paulie Malignaggi, Nate Campbell or any of the others mentioned as possible opponents.

Mayweather-Mosley isn’t Leonard-Hearns but it might be De La Hoya-Trinidad, which was an enormous fight that captured the attention of even casual fans. This is about as big as it gets in boxing short of Mayweather-Pacquiao.

Yes, boxing appears to have survived the Mayweather-Pacquiao debacle. First, Pacquiao picked a credible (although less-than-exciting) opponent and could fill Cowboys Stadium on March 13. And, now, fate provides Mayweather with an opponent who translates into big money and is acceptable to everyone.

Let’s enjoy this.

Michael Rosenthal can be reached at [email protected]