By Jason Pribila: Have the contracts been signed? Check. Has there been an official press conference to announce the fight to the public? Check. Have tickets gone on sale? Check. Does the Promotion have a name? Umm, next question.
At the time of this writing we are only 57 days away (who’s counting?) from “Sugar” Shane Mosley facing Floyd “Money” Mayweather in the second biggest fight that could be made in boxing. No it is not Mayweather – Pacquiao, and I’m not going to pretend that I wasn’t disappointed when negotiations between the two fell through. However, for me personally this is my dream fight.
In June of 1997, my boxing idol, Mike Tyson disgraced himself and the sport when he was DQ’d for biting Evander Holyfield’s ears during their second meeting. Once again the un-silent majority showed up in droves with shovels in hand in an attempt to bury the sport for good. Boxing’s cash cow just had a meltdown on the sport’s biggest stage and the barbaric nature of his act turned away fans that never came back.
The man who would eventually pick up that torch was still two years away from gaining the respect of fight fans that still weren’t convinced that he was anything more than a media creation. Oscar de la Hoya was coming off a close debated decision over the popular Pernell Whitaker. Beating up an old Julio Cesar Chavez did as much to alienate fans as it did to inspire them. It was not until a series of fights in 1999 against Ike Quartey, Oba Carr, and Felix Trinidad that Oscar had truly struck gold.
Eventually De la Hoya brought old and new fans back to the sport. However, for me that credit went to a lightweight from Pomona, California. I read an article in The RING magazine bracing fans for Mosley’s arrival. I was already on board the Mosley bandwagon when he won his first title on HBO against Philip Holiday. Paying for his PPV victory against De la Hoya in June of 2000, while at a friend’s engagement party, proved to be a much smarter investment than the champagne flutes I purchased earlier that day off their wedding registry. Mosley is still fighting, while my friend and his ex-fiancé decided to go their separate ways, and in essence stop fighting.
Last year I flew to Los Angeles for the Mosley – Margarito fight. I figured that the bout would either be Mosley’s last fight or his greatest victory. I had completed my report on the undercard before the fighters were announced, and I was able to enjoy the main event as a fan. Fortunately the demand for press credentials was so great that my seat was reserved in the rafters of the Staples Center. Apparently “Prib Notes” had yet to make a splash on the West Coast.
The question of who Mosley should fight next only had one answer. Floyd “Money” Mayweather. The man, who retired the pound for pound king and linear welterweight champion, now had a fight that would make enough dollars and sense to end his hiatus.
Of course I didn’t predict that it would take 16 months to happen. Nor did I think Manny Pacquiao would become a cross-over star so soon. But at the end of the day I got the fight I wanted all along.
Mosley and Mayweather are both elite athletes, but each handles their business as polar opposites. Each has also carved out a niche that has worked best for them.
Mosley remains humble and is rarely seen without a smile. He stays out of trouble, and has always been a favorite of the media. That not only helped him when he suffered two losses apiece to Vernon Forrest and Winky Wright, but it also helped him get a relatively free pass when his involvement with the BALCO Company became public.
Mayweather has become the most popular fighter in boxing by selling a completely different image. He has a love/hate relationship with the media. He changed his name from “Pretty Boy” to “Money” during the worst economic climate his country has faced since the Depression. He boasts that he is not only the greatest fighter of this generation, but of all time. Up until this moment he has come up with excuses not to fight the best in his own division. And, let’s face it; he does not have a crowd pleasing style.
Yet, he is the most recognizable active American fighter in the world today. And he has one thing going for him right now that no one else could claim. Love him or hate him, you gotta watch him!
There was once a time that I was considered an athlete, and when I was competing I conducted my business like Mosley, but there is a big part of me that would have loved to have been more like Mayweather.
The emotions that Mayweather stirred led me to respond to Thomas Hauser’s piece following the Mayweather –Hatton fight. I wrote that I’m drawn to guys that talk trash in contact sports because they are not afraid to put a target on their backs. If people don’t like what they are saying, get in line and shut them up.
Forty have tried, forty have failed.
We are 57 days, two injury-free camps, a staph infection, and natural disaster away from finding out if Mayweather will remain perfect, or if Mosley will go back to the well one more time to defy the odds.
I, like many, can’t wait to find out.
PRESS TOUR: I wasn’t thrilled when I read that Mayweather – Mosley got into a shoving match in New York on Tuesday. Real or staged doesn’t matter. If I want to see two guys in a shoving match while wearing suits, I’ll ask some family members to let me borrow their wedding videos.
Best line I heard during the proceedings belonged to Mosley trainer, Brother Nazim Richardson. When talking about Mayweather’s defense he said, “He’s (Mayweather) got an ass you can’t hit with a handful of rice.” This just may be the best 24/7 yet.
And now for the worst: This promotion has been billed as, “Who R U Picking?” Really? Who are the ad-wizards who came up with that one? My questions for GBP is, “Who are you paying?” and “Who’s going to want that slogan on a T-shirt?”
When the fight was announced my fight poster read, “Pretty Sweet!” You not only pay tribute to each of the fighter’s nicknames, but you also perfectly describe the match-up.
No worries. There is still plenty of time before the first episode of 24/7, so if anyone from GBP wants to borrow my slogan, I’d be happy to give it to you for a trip to Vegas and two ringside seats. You may reach me at: firstname.lastname@example.org to go over the details.
JAMES TONEY SIGNS WITH UFC: I remember watching James “Lights Out” Toney on the ESPN2 version of the Jim Rome show (prior to his fight with Roy Jones Jr. and Rome’s incident with “Chris” Everett). That night Toney was declared the “King of Smack” and I’ve loved his act ever since.
This is a movie that can’t possibly end up with a happy ending. Even if Toney had one-punch power this would be a bad idea. He smokes cigars, ignores roadwork, and will still be considered a small heavyweight. It has been a long time since Toney was forced to fight three minutes of a round. In MMA he’ll have to fight five minute rounds, and there is not a lot of air when one is taken down to the mat.
Do you really want to walk away from boxing knowing that John Ruiz is still getting title shots?
TOP RANK’S STANCE ON BLOOD TESTING: During the recent conference call for Pacquiao – Clottey, Bob Arum said the following about random blood testing, “This fight with Mayweather was supposed to be in Nevada, and what he should have done is to go to the Nevada commission and requested it.”
My first thought was that Arum made a great point. But then I thought to myself, why was that point not expressed two months ago? Instead counter offers were made as to where to place a stop date for the blood testing.
MIKE JONES NEXT MOVE: Philadelphia welterweight prospect Mike Jones got through some rough moments before pulling away from Henry Bruseles to earn a unanimous decision. Jones promoter Russell Peltz’ working relationship with Top Rank allowed Jones to gain much needed exposure on “Top Rank Live”.
I personally would like to see Jones matched against Lou DiBella’s stable of welterweights. A bout with Antwone Smith is a winnable bout that would set him up for a guy like Carlos Quintana. If everything went well, Jones would possibly be ready to challenge Kermit Cintron and eventually Andre Berto in 2011.
It has been reported that DiBella made an offer to match Smith and Jones, but he was turned down. Mike Jones will instead appear on the untelevised undercard of Kelly Pavlik – Sergio Martinez in Atlantic City. With only a seven week turnaround I’m not expecting much of a step-up in competition. But I believe a parallel move for the chance to fight in front of the HBO suits and 10,000 people is good business.
ACADEMY AWARDS: For many years my dream was to become an award winning screen-writer. At some point during the many starts and stops of a screenplay based on a “fictional” character in his mid-20s, who was trying to deal with being alone for the first time, I declared that I would be in Sundance before I was 30.
My 30th was spent at Boardwalk Hall in Atlantic City for the Arturo Gatti – James Leija bout. And since then I focused on writing non-fiction.
March 8, 2010