Floyd Mayweather Jr. is undefeated, a six-time world champion and perhaps the biggest draw in boxing.
Shane Mosley is a great champion who's past his prime and probably couldn't carry a pay-per-view card by himself.
However, it's Mayweather who has the most to prove from Saturday night's welterweight bout in Las Vegas (HBO Pay-Per-View). He's likely the most-skilled boxer in the world. Instead of that distinction drawing him praise, Mayweather is reviled for his defense-first style, as well as his big mouth.
He prides himself on being the greatest ever (in large part to his 40-0 record) and at the same time he's in a slugfest to be considered the best boxer today.
Manny Pacquiao ostensibly holds that crown as much for his recent accomplishments as his penchant to be a warrior in the ring. Courage is what separates Mayweather and Pacquiao in many people's perceptions -- with Pacquiao being a gutty fighter while Mayweather hits and runs.
Whether that's right or wrong, it's irrelevant. That's what's out there. Mayweather's demand for Olympic-style drug testing -- previously unheard of in professional boxing -- sank a proposed mega-fight with Pacquiao and further perpetuated his negative perception.
"I don't care about shutting anybody up," Mayweather said during a recent conference call. "I don't care about shutting anybody up. I'm happy with myself. I'm happy with my career and I'm happy with my family."
It's true and it's not. He certainly marches to his own tune, but for a cocky and ego-driven athlete like he is, it must irk him that he's slighted (at least in his own mind) by the boxing community.
I can never question another person's heart. Just stepping through the ropes and putting your life on the line shows fortitude.
Fans think Mosley's power will hurt Mayweather and test his courage. Can Mayweather push through and find a way to win without running is what they want to know.
That isn't entirely fair. To ask Mayweather to stand there and slug it out would make for an appealing bout but at a high cost. Mayweather's trainer and uncle Roger defended his nephew's style in a chat with FOXSports.com readers on Wednesday , saying "Boxing is an art, it's about skill. Not getting beat upside the head. In boxing, the No. 1 thing is to win."
And I can tell you Floyd Mayweather doesn't get hit upside his head very often.
This doesn't even take into consideration that the odds of Mayweather winning a slugfest are extremely low. So how does he begin to shed his label as a runner?
By not only beating Mosley on Saturday but destroying him. He needs to dominate his opponent to the point that Mosley was sorry for even getting in the ring with him. In essence, Mayweather actually has to deliver the performance that his mouth promises before each fight.
He said this fight is about enhancing his legacy; well he had better take full advantage of it.
He can't afford to do just enough to bank rounds. He must use his speed and superior boxing ability to craft a memorable performance. A big knock on Mayweather is that there's nothing memorable about his fights.
A ho-hum decision win Saturday won't earn him any more love or respect from the public. Reaching down to really put an exclamation point on a victory however would shut a few critics up and maybe put him back atop the boxing world.