Mayweather in charge after big PPV win
By Lyle Fitzsimmons,
Contributing Boxing Editor
It finally happened.
About a minute into round two of Saturday night's mega-event in Las Vegas, anyone waiting years for Floyd Mayweather Jr. to face real adversity in a ring got their wish.
Courtesy of two booming right hands from Shane Mosley -- the second of which noticeably buckled his knees -- those with a notion the former five-division belt-holder was simply a combat-averse frontrunner who'd feasted on subpar competition had their day in in-ring court.
In Mosley, they said, a Hall of Famer who'd ruled two divisions before earning lineal championship status at welterweight, the caustic windbag known as "Money" would hardly be permitted to employ the shoot-move-grab techniques that had maddened 39 previous challengers.
It was a fight he never wanted, they insisted, and, presented with a similarly quick and more powerful foil, Mayweather would either be compelled to dig into an unexplored bag of tricks, or, more likely, exposed in its absence as a mouthy made-for-reality TV wannabe.
And at the moment the second right landed and momentarily lowered their stricken villain's backside toward the canvas, you could almost hear blissful clicking as keyboard soothsayers far and wide readied their pithy "See, I told you so" submissions.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. improved to 41-0 as a professional..
But then, just as quickly... the moment passed.
Not only had Mayweather regained any lost equilibrium by round's end, he spent a majority of 30 remaining minutes beating an insistent drum both on the left side of Mosley's head and on any remaining logic that he's somehow unworthy of the title "best pound for pound."
He's a jerk. He's a punk. He's a loudmouth.
But he can fight as well as anyone. Foreign or domestic.
And as the evening faded, more people were acknowledging the fact.
Notably, as one-sided rounds piled up on cards belonging to Harold Lederman and three official ringside judges, some previous high-profile doubters -- at least in the forms of HBO blow-by-blow man Jim Lampley and analyst Emanuel Steward -- had begun the buy-in process.
Both Steward, who'd given Mosley a strong chance at an upset; and Lampley, who'd drawn notice for a wordy Pacquiao pep rally two months ago in Dallas; were complimentary enough of Mayweather to wonder aloud if a fight between the two would actually be in Manny's best competitive interest.
Larry Merchant stayed predictably in character as the crotchety old man, grilling the winner with a flawed "so, you think everyone else is on drugs" assertion before revising widespread pre-fight opinion to claim "everyone knew" Mosley had no chance to win in the first place.
Everyone, that is, not named Pacquiao, Bert Sugar, David Avila, Bobby Cassidy, Paul Williams, Kermit Cintron, David Haye and Angelo Dundee... among others.
Still, Merchant or no, the dismantling nature of Mayweather's triumph triggers a subtle shift in a public relations battle that initially surrounded failed negotiations for a March 13 get-together and has raged via media barbs since while the two camps salved wounds in divergent directions.
Because Mosley, a past user of performance enhancers, was willing to endure the irritation of stringent testing to prove himself clean, the question of "Why won't Manny agree to it?" is being asked louder than before, when it was drowned out by those with a "Why is Floyd asking for it?" viewpoint.
Additionally, now that Mayweather has overcome brief difficulty to thrash a legitimate title-holding welter, any stubborn posturing by Team Pac in pursuing other competitive options would similarly result in more momentum for the "Floyd is the real P4P champ" mindset.
Recent win streak and tremendous fan zeal aside, would anyone really be happy with the Filipino and his handlers if 147-pound retreads/offenders like Cotto or Margarito were suggested for traditionally-tested matches before a USADA- monitored meeting with Floyd?
Especially if Mayweather -- as he hinted early Sunday morning -- would really consider tasty prey like 154/160-pound champion Sergio Martinez if Manny and Co. chose not to toe the line?
While I haven't asked them all directly, the two I queried Monday leave me confident most swimmers in the "prospective Mayweather opponent" pool would gladly sign off on a few extra blood draws if it yielded the chance at extended 24/7 exposure and the accompanying windfalls it yields.
"It doesn't matter to me if we take the test or don't take the test, just make the fight," said Cintron, who'll face ex-welterweight claimant Williams this weekend at 154 pounds in California. "Whatever happens happens. Just make the fight."
Williams' trainer, George Peterson, agreed.
"Paul Williams is a fighter. He wants to fight," he said. "Regardless of the prerequisites, he wants to fight. This is a guy who wants to be considered the greatest."
Promoter Dan Goossen finished Peterson's statement with "I think that's a yes."
And ultimately, it's that reality that'll get the bigger fight made first.
Seeing potential for an immediate post-Mosley cash-in, cooler adviser heads will almost certainly prevail -- as was hinted on last week by Robert Morales, who quoted Freddie Roach saying "I'm sure negotiations can be made somewhere along the line" to bridge the testing gap that now exists.
Even promoter Bob Arum -- No. 1 contender to Merchant's irascible senior citizen crown and well-documented Floyd loather -- was said by Roach to have desired a Pacquiao match with Margarito "after Mayweather" rather than before.
Grudges notwithstanding and violated superstitions aside.
And even more so after Saturday night.
Simply, it's an event no businessman of Arum's acumen and no competitor of Pacquiao's prowess would walk away from based solely on shoddy principle or unreasonable voodoo, lest they be branded forever as "the ones who sabotaged the biggest fight in history."
It's my guess neither of them want that sort of title.
For boxing's sake... I hope they're both as smart as I think.
This week's title-fight schedule:
No fights scheduled.
Last week's picks: 2-1 Overall picks record: 188-68 (73.4 percent)
Lyle Fitzsimmons is an award-winning 21-year sports journalist, a full voting member of the Boxing Writers Association of America and a frequent contributor to sports radio talk shows throughout the U.S. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow him at twitter.com/fitzbitz and read more at fitzbitzonfights.wordpress.com.