They won't meet in the ring until May 1 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, but the first stop on a whirlwind, three-city publicity tour Tuesday included plenty of pomp and pizazz.
After lengthy introductions that would have made silver-tongued Michael Buffer blush, the unbeaten Mayweather and the welterweight champion Mosley sauntered to the middle of the stage and stood face to face. Jawing turned to pointing, pointing turned to shoving, and before long, promoters from both camps were rushing forward to separate them.
Perhaps the altercation was staged, but it's hard to fake the animosity between them. "The thing is this: He may be the champ, but we all know belts don't do nothing but collect dust," Mayweather said, smiling. "I'm in the check-cashing business, baby."
Both should be able to cash hefty cheques after this fight, arguably the biggest in the sport not involving Manny Pacquiao. Mayweather and Mosley have been circling each other for years, and the possibility they would meet gained traction when Mosley crashed a post-fight interview after Mayweather defeated Juan Manuel Marquez last September.
Richard Schaefer of Golden Boy Promotions brazenly predicted the fight will do three million pay-per-views, which would shatter the record set by Mayweather and Oscar De La Hoya in 2007.
The fight came together after weeks of negotiations between Mayweather and Pacquiao failed to produce an agreement. The Filipino fighter refused Olympic-style drug testing and he will instead fight Joshua Clottey on March 13 at Cowboys Stadium.
When potentially the richest fight in boxing history fell through, Mayweather (40-0, 25 KOs) turned to the next biggest attraction in the loaded 147-pound division.
"It's been a long time since I got a chance to show the world that I'm the best fighter, and that's all that I really want, to be the best," Mosley (46-5, 39 KOs) said.
Both fighters will undergo blood testing, which they claim will set a new standard for safety in boxing. Such an agreement perked some eyebrows considering Mosley has acknowledged unintentionally using steroids before defeating De La Hoya in 2003.
"This fight reminds me of back in the days of Sugar Ray Leonard and Tommy Hearns, the fights we saw back in the day, the classic fights that brought boxing back," said De La Hoya, president of Golden Boy Promotions, which counts Mosley as a partner.
De La Hoya wasn't shy about a prediction, either. "I've fought both fighters and I already know what's going to happen," he said, invoking Mayweather's former "Pretty Boy" nickname. "I already know there's going to be a knockout, I already know, and it ain't going to be 'pretty."'
-- The Associated Press