Published March 04, 2010
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Floyd Mayweather Jr. has known he was inside Sugar Shane Mosley's head from the moment Mayweather's last fight ended.
That's when Mosley jumped into the ring last September to challenge Mayweather, who had just demolished Juan Manuel Marquez in his comeback bout from a 19-month layoff. After Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao couldn't make a deal, Mayweather accepted a deal to fight Mosley, already confident he had a mental edge.
"Shane is out of character in this whole thing," Mayweather said. "He doesn't talk trash. That's not like him to call out somebody. I think Bernard Hopkins (Mosley's business partner) put a battery in his back and pumped him up to say those things."
With a whole lot more civility, Mayweather and Mosley wrapped up a publicity tour in downtown Los Angeles on Thursday before several hundred fans mostly cheering for Mosley, a native of nearby Pomona. Mayweather, a Michigan native, has long called Las Vegas home.
This stop had a definite West Coast flavor: The crowd stood in a packed grandstand in picture-perfect sunshine while a deejay bumped Tupac, Snoop and Dr. Dre over the loudspeakers at a downtown plaza. Both fighters emerged from behind curtains and smoke for a brief jaw-to-jaw trash-talking session, followed by civilized speeches to the crowd.
"This fight is going to be on May 1st, but it's also going to be May's first (loss)," said a grinning Mosley, who showed up in a tailored green suit while Mayweather wore a quilted brown jacket and jeans.
Except for the fainting Tecate Girl, everything about the event suggested a smooth, professional fight when Mayweather and Mosley meet at the MGM Grand Garden.
A scantily-dressed woman representing the fight's sponsoring beer company swooned in the mild sun, falling down in front of the podium and prompting promoter Oscar De La Hoya to call for help before she recovered and walked away.
Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer is setting a formidable standard for the fight, proclaiming HBO can sell 3 million pay-per-view buys to make it the biggest fight in boxing history. Mayweather has sold about 4.5 million buys for his last three fights against De La Hoya, Ricky Hatton and Marquez, making him the sport's top pay-per-view draw.
Schaefer also is putting the fight in movie theaters and making a litany of sponsorship tie-ins for the bout, further promoting boxing to the interest of mainstream advertisers. But none of it will work without a solid fight, and Mosley trainer Naazim Richardson believes this bout will catch every fan's interest.
"Shane Mosley can knock out anything that weighs 147 pounds," said the affable Richardson, Hopkins' longtime trainer. "If a farm animal weighed that, Shane could knock him out. We're going to have to convince this man that he has to learn how to lose. He can forget it after us, but he's going to have to learn."
The fighters' comments were remarkably civilized after the contentious start to the tour in New York, where they shoved each other and had fewer positive things to say about each other. Mayweather practically fawned over Mosley and the fight's organizers in his comments, praising everybody on the stage.
"We didn't put him down because he's a good fighter," said Roger Mayweather, Floyd's uncle and trainer. "Everybody knows what Floyd can do. We don't have to remind them. Boxing is won by skill, and Floyd is the most skilled fighter in the sport."
Although Floyd Mayweather sees an uneasiness in Mosley's eyes, Mosley claims it's all for show, noting the two have been acquaintances for years. Mosley and Richardson have watched most of Mayweather's fights, searching for weaknesses.
"We'll dislike each other before May 1 — and actually, I'm not even sure I dislike him now," Mosley said. "But after May 1, we won't dislike each other unless we have to fight again."
Richardson agrees with the criticism that Mosley only fights to his potential in his biggest bouts — but Richardson sees it as a positive.
"You've got to keep him at his level," Richardson said. "You can't ask Baryshnikov to come dance down the street and then ask him why he didn't win the contest. That's not his level. With Floyd, you've got a guy who's worthy of fighting the best like Shane, and that has got Shane's attention."