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LAS VEGAS – Their goals are the same, but the motivation for fighting each other on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden Arena is vastly different for Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Shane Mosley.
Mayweather sneers and snarks at a reporter who asked him about his relationship with his father and his uncle.
"You people are always trying to get into my business," he said. "I'm not looking into your business. Why are you worrying about mine?"
It's not long, though, before Mayweather is volunteering much about his personal life. He tells you how much he's made, and what he believes he potentially could still earn. He boasts about his five homes – "All paid for," he says, proudly – and his fleet of cars.
And he's brutally frank about his reason for climbing into the ring. He is almost incredulous when he learns that Mosley accuses him of fighting just for the money.
"I'm a prizefighter," he said. "A prizefighter. You understand that, right? I'm a prizefighter. Of course I fight for the money. Duh."
He figures he'll make around $40 million for Saturday's bout that will be broadcast on HBO Pay-Per-View and is almost a cinch to sell in excess of one million units. Richard Schaefer, the fight's promoter and the chief executive officer of Golden Boy Promotions, predicted an astronomically high four million sales. That would surpass the current record of 2.45 million, set in 2007 by Mayweather and Oscar De La Hoya by nearly 40 percent.
"I say that we're going to break records," Schaefer said at Wednesday's news conference as Mayweather beamed and shook his head affirmatively. "Not to only break three million homes, my goal is to break four million homes. When you have corporate America behind you, when you have HBO 24/7, it is possible."
It's the kind of talk Mayweather loves. Boxing, he said, is a risky business and he's not risking serious injury just to please someone else. He's fighting for the payday that will, he says, secure his family's future.
"I don't want my kids to ever have to work for someone else," he said. "And I don't want their kids to have to or their kids' kids. That's what it's about. Family and my family's future."
With endorsement deals, Mayweather said he'll increase his payday for Saturday's bout perhaps by half.
Mayweather is not fighting for the World Boxing Association welterweight title that Mosley won when he stopped Antonio Margarito on Jan. 24, 2009. He's got no interest in paying a three percent sanction fee to the WBA for the right to compete for its title.
"How is he the champion when I beat the undisputed champion (Carlos Baldomir, in 2006) and I ain't lost?" Mayweather asked.
Mosley professes to care about the belt, though it's not certain that the title will be at stake. Mosley signed a rematch clause when he agreed to fight Mayweather and sanctioning body rules generally don't allow for immediate rematches.
Mosley wants to fight for the belt if it makes economic sense. His attorney, Judd Burstein, plans to meet with WBA president Gilberto Mendoza on Friday to try to hammer out a deal.
"The short answer is that Shane believes in the belt and is proud of the belt and if there's a way for him to defend it that takes into account that his fight schedule over the next two years isn't going to lend itself to a mandatory, then he wants to do it," Burstein said on Thursday. "He's not going to do it if it will keep him from fighting (Manny) Pacquiao and having to make a mandatory against some nobody. There is an intersection between economic sanity and pride in the belt and if we can make a deal that makes sense, Shane will defend it.
"Shane is very much fighting for the honor and the glory that he'll gain from this. That means a lot to him, proving he's the best against the best fighters. But I can't allow him to make a move that would be economic suicide."
Mosley is a proud man who is a multiple time world champion, having earned belts at 135, 147 and 154. Golden Boy has hired former champions Thomas Hearns and Sugar Ray Leonard, each of whom won a passel of belts, to help promote the fight.
They're still relevant in boxing because of the history they helped create and Mosley wants to join them in that regard. He wants to have a big place in the history books when his era is complete.
"It means something," Mosley said of the title belt. "It's going to go down in the history books."
In that regard, they share something very much in common. Mosley has been a professional since 1993 and has become one of the game's most popular stars because of his competitive nature and his willingness to fight anyone.
He's eager to defeat Mayweather to add another notch. He's already beaten many of the top fighters of his era. He lost a pair of fights each to Winky Wright and the late Vernon Forrest, but he has a pair of wins each over De La Hoya and Fernando Vargas as well as other quality wins over the likes of Margarito, Luis Collazo and Ricardo Mayorga.
He was briefly regarded as the best pound-for-pound fighter in the sport and believes he's regained that position. Fighting Mayweather, who is No. 1 or No. 2 on most pound-for-pound lists, will enable him to do that.
"I'm the best," Mosley said. "I'm the best fighter out there and I want to prove that. He's talking a lot and saying all these things, but that's OK. You don't prove anything by talking; you prove it by getting in there and fighting and that's what I do."
Mayweather is 40-0 with 25 knockouts and has been boasting that he's the greatest fighter of all-time, better even than Sugar Ray Robinson or Muhammad Ali.
He taunted Ali, for instance, for losing to Leon Spinks in Spinks' eighth professional fight.
Mayweather's trainer, his uncle, Roger Mayweather, said it's not out of line to consider Robinson, Ali and his Floyd Jr. on similar levels, but he conceded that Robinson might still be the best.
"The thing that you see is that Robinson and Floyd and even Shane or this guy (nodding to Hearns standing nearby), you consider them great because they won a lot of titles in a lot of different classes," Roger Mayweather said. "You don't do that unless you're great. But my nephew is just on a different level than most of them. It's not crazy to put him there with Ray Robinson.
"Maybe the one thing that Ray Robinson had that my nephew doesn't have is Ray Robinson could punch like a (expletive). My nephew is more of a sharpshooter. He'll get you out of there if you give him the opening, but Robinson could punch. But Floyd is right there with him."
Mayweather Jr., though, isn't nearly as focused on the history books as he is on the financial ledger. Every day he trains, he wears the t-shirt with "Money Mayweather" emblazoned across his back.
Cashing the eight-figure paychecks is the only reason he battles on after having boxed for most of his life.
"When you're young, you fight to say, 'Yeah, I'm better than this guy,' and I fight to prove I'm better than this guy," Mayweather said. "But once you've done everything that you could possibly do and you've proven you're the best fighter, you've proven you're the strongest and the fastest fighter, once you get to this level, it's about one thing: It's about that payday."
- Shane Mosley
- Roger Mayweather