Mayweather - Mosley DC Press Report: On Lucky Devils and Learned Dervishes
By JD Camacho on location (March 4, 2010) Doghouse Boxing  
“Life, we’re fond of saying, is unfair, and even unfairer it sometimes seems in the game of fame and fortune. Why is it that some great fighters become stars and others, perhaps equally great, are largely ignored in the world beyond the ropes?” - Jim Lampley

In the boxing sense, Floyd Mayweather and Shane Mosley are superstars. Boxing fans know them, boxing rewards them, and the hall-of-fame will beckon for both when the time is right. But what about outside the boxing realm? What about the casual consciousness and the mainstream media? On those flows, Floyd and Shane may ride different waves entirely.

The line for the open-public press conference wrapped around the Lincoln Theatre in Washington, DC. Lots of people – some in suits, some in jeans, almost all of them male – stood around. Some chitchatted about boxing. Most stood silent. For many, the hushed dynamics of the DC Metro still ruled.

I eyed the fight poster for Mayweather vs. Mosley, entitled “Who R U Picking?” – a label I felt missed the mark. Who talked like that, exactly? The title was somewhere between proper English and slang. I started thinking “Who U Pickin’?” would have been better.

Once I received my press kit from a young lady named Lisa, I headed on down to the front of the theatre. The theatre exuded an old-time, mid-20th century feel, complete with two levels and balconies on either side of the stage. A group of reporters were shining lights and pushing pencils in front of pound-for-pound Paul Williams, boxing’s analogue for Mr. Fantastic. I caught Williams’ favorite phrase, “Y’know what I’m sayin’?” in his talks with all the writers around. Williams also mentioned that he was a Cowboys fan – a preference not looked upon too kindly in the national capital. After Williams sat down behind me, the master of ceremonies announced the attendance of former DC Mayor Marion Barry. The cheers were delayed.

I noticed several promotional officials mingling with the media. Golden Boy President Richard Schaefer spoke at length with ESPN scribe Dan Rafael. They whispered and scribbled and laughed together for quite awhile. HBO PPV man-in-charge Mark Taffet and ESPN podcaster Kieran Mulvaney shared a similar conversation. Schaefer and Taffet chatted with few others.

The aforementioned master of ceremonies tried to keep the crowd hyped while we all waited for the particulars. He started a five-minute countdown until the press conference opened. “Mayweather vs. Mosley, everybody!” said the MC. “It’s champion vs. champion!” He then paused, as if reconsidering himself. He went up on stage after the countdown ended to offer guidelines and rules for the viewing public. It was a ruse, though, because the press conference didn’t begin right afterward. The MC then reintroduced “the honorable Marion Barry.” A writer turned around to his friend seated next to me. “Honorable?” the writer said. “That’s…questionable.”

A longer period of waiting ensued. Some of the personnel around me suspected Floyd arrived late. The lights gradually grew dimmer, to give the illusion that a marked time approached. The fighting Peterson Bros., Anthony and Lamont, were in attendance, but that announcement barely elicited a head-turn. Twenty minutes passed. I looked over at the MC, who appeared dumfounded.

A promotional video signaled the opening of the press conference. A large screen projected on stage a montage of both fighters, rife with dramatic narration and fast hands. Video’s alright, I thought. It needed 24/7 narrator Liev Schreiber, though.

“The hardest, fastest, strongest fighter that Mayweather’s ever fought!” said the non-Schreiber narrator.

“People must forget that Oscar hit pretty hard himself,” I muttered.

The video proceeded to spend a lot more time on Mayweather than Mosley. Strange, when Mosley has scored many, many more eye-catching knockouts in his career than Mayweather.

After the presentation, both fighters were to enter, one at a time, from the back of theatre upon being introduced. A series of spotlights and smoke highlighted one of the backdoors behind the audience before Mosley’s name came from the MC. A portly fellow in an off-white three-piece suit ran down the aisle instead of Mosley. I raised an eyebrow. Then, the man himself emerged into the corridor and walked down the aisle alone to the front of the stage, shaking hands along the way. When he stood on stage, I noted that Shane happened to own very large fists.

Floyd surfaced from the smoke next, flanked by three massive bodyguards dressed like Mixed Martial Arts fans. Floyd offered no handshakes or smiles as he ambled toward the stage. Floyd made a fuss when he climbed up level with Mosley and gave his future opponent a mean-mug. The fighters met at the center and exchanged words and expressions before the curtain opened to the decorated dais. The curtain revealed Oscar De La Hoya sitting on Mosley’s side of the podium. Hip-hop music blasted while Mosley and Mayweather continued to jaw at each other. Mayweather trainer and uncle Roger Mayweather strolled to his nephew’s side while wearing a highly ostentatious peach and mango pseudo-patchwork suit.

Several of the promotional officials then approached the podium to verbally glad-hand their sponsors and sell their fight with the usual hyperbole. Schaefer mentioned that phone giant AT&T would “activate” this fight more than any fight in history. A high-ranking MGM Grand official, an older white gentleman, went up to the stand and commended one of the world’s “greatest boxing writers,” Dan Rafael. The proclamation elicited a boo chorus from the audience. Rafael seemed to shrug it off. The MGM Grand representative followed by praising the media.

“Thanks to the media,” he said. “One…was down there talkin’ about fights from the 40s and who fought who. That’s just how you people are.”

“YOU PEOPLE!?” said a crowd of DC natives from the back. “WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU PEOPLE!?”

I chuckled.

De La Hoya took to the podium after a brief word from Taffet about “urban markets.” Oscar slapped Floyd’s hand before speaking. “I’ve fought both of them,” said Oscar. “And I’ve lost to both…I know what’s going to happen. I’ve dissected it…there will be a knockout, and it ain’t gonna be pretty.”

Naazim Richardson, fabled trainer of the ageless Bernard Hopkins and Mosley’s new confidant, spoke next. He delineated between the “elite” and “the special.” “Margarito and Hatton, those guys were elite,” he said. He went on to call Mosley and Mayweather, their conquerors, the “special” ones. “In chess,” Richardson went on, “your queen can’t do anything my queen can’t do. Your rook can’t do anything my rook can’t do. It’s all gonna be about the strategy we implement.”

Richardson’s charge and future hall-of-famer Shane Mosley finally approached the dais. He wore a smooth dark gray suit with a shimmering green tie. His oversized hands seemed to bulge from his sleeves. After a typically cordial speech, Mosley left the crowd with the following prediction: “Come May 1st, it’s gonna be May’s 1st.”

Mayweather Promotions president Leonard Ellerbe introduced the undefeated Floyd Mayweather after giving the crowd the opportunity to cheer for Roger Mayweather (and cheer they did).

“I’ve never ducked or dodged nobody,” Mayweather said.

“WHAT ABOUT PACQUIAO!?” echoed from the back.

Later on, Mayweather touched on a touchy subject. “No HGH, no steroids. Everything I got was through hard work.” The mention of performance enhancers spurned loud boos and noises from all over. He continued. “Speed, ability, agility,” Mayweather said. “He’s facin’ the best. Not facin’ Cotto, [not some] stationary [target]…so before you judge me, look in the mirror and judge yourself.” Mayweather left the podium with a wink.

The print media and television media split at this point. A throng of reporters circled Mosley like vultures. Mosley’s face up-close appeared more worn than I imagined. He had a slight swell and some discoloration on his nose. His eyes were striking, though. He outlined his wish for the fight. “Knock Mayweather out?” he said. “That’s like a dream. I can’t wait to sink my teeth into Mayweather.” When asked about his strategy for the fight, Mosley highlighted his jab. “[I have to] use my jab and touch him and touch him and touch him until…he realizes that he has to fight.” I noticed that, despite the myriad writers around Mosley, ESPN’s Dan Rafael dictated much of the roundtable from Mosley’s left side. I wanted to ask about the new blood testing procedures that Floyd had mentioned for the fight, but it was hard to get a question in edge-wise around Rafael’s queries. When someone brought up the rematch clause, Mosley paused.

“[There is a] rematch clause, ‘cause there is,” Mosley paused again, “concern.” He glanced around at the other writers, who snickered. On his retirement, Mosley claimed, “I’m on the Bernard Hopkins plan. I feel great.”

Shortly after, the writers disbanded and tried to move on to Mayweather. Mayweather, after doing his television interviews, began to amass a crowd around himself while he signed items for audience members. Mayweather propped himself on the side of the stage, dangled his legs, and placed his signature on item after item. This fanatical element made it very hard for the print writers to converge on the flamboyant Mayweather, who continued to play to the crowd.

Seeing Mayweather submerged in his own stardom, I decided to grab Roger Mayweather, who still sat at his press conference seat up near the dais, for a quick word or two.

“Has a testing agency for steroids and performance enhancing drugs been assigned for this fight, and do you feel it’s necessary?” I said.

Well, I know this,” Roger replied, “If a guy on somethin’, we gonna find out if he on somethin’. That’s the way boxing goes. If you can think you can beat somebody, you don’t need to take nothin’.

“But do you feel random testing will be enforced in this fight?”

“Oh ya, ya ya. Why wouldn’t it be? That’s why the fight didn’t happen with Pacquiao.”

“Watching some of Shane Mosley’s most recent fights, like with Antonio Margarito, he was able to throw around a lot bigger guys than Floyd – “

“He’s never fought nobody like Floyd, so how’s he gonna throw Floyd around – he’s never fought nobody with the skills of Floyd. Floyd’s a better fighter, skill-wise, period. It has nothin’ to do with weight. Skill wins fights. Two things win fights. Skill is one, luck is the other. That’s the only two things that win fights. Anybody can get lucky. More times than not, skills pay the bills.”

I thanked Roger and walked along the side of the stage. I saw Mosley on the other side, shaking hands with a few men in suits and smiling with some television media. I saw Mayweather swamped by fans and being interrogated by Rafael. All eyes were on Mayweather.

I thought about Roger’s words again. “Two things win fights. Skill is one, luck is the other.” Perhaps the same can be said of superstars. Even the best boxers don’t always become superstars. Men like Pernell Whitaker and Marvin Hagler, for all their skill, never received the same fame as men like Sugar Ray Leonard and Oscar De La Hoya. Like Richardson says, Floyd Mayweather and Shane Mosley are both “special” fighters. But only one of them is a mainstream superstar. Maybe Mayweather is lucky. Maybe not. On May 1st, Mosley has the opportunity to show that he has more skill and that Mosley – and not Mayweather – deserves to be the mainstream name that Mosley never really became.

Of course, a little luck couldn’t hurt, either.

JD at:

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