LAS VEGAS – Shane Mosley was surrounded by a small cadre of reporters and a gaggle of television cameras seconds after the news conference to hype the big fight had concluded.
It was a familiar scene for the welterweight champion, who for more than 10 years has been one of boxing's most recognizable personalities.
But as the crowd thinned, Mosley leaned close to the person seated next to him and whispered, "This is a little different, isn't it?"
It was hard to disagree with him. Mosley, after all, won't be fighting Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden.
He is a partner in Oscar De La Hoya's Golden Boy Promotions, which is staging Saturday’s blockbuster for the super welterweight title between De La Hoya and pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather Jr.
But Mosley spent the better part of an hour responding to taunts Mayweather had directed toward him and explaining why he's never faced Mayweather.
To the brash Mayweather, the answer is simple: Mosley simply doesn't have the nerve.
"Shane Mosley, he had his chance and he didn't want any of it, because he knew. He knew what would happen," Mayweather said before a recent training session in a boxing club that bears his name just a short distance from the lights of the Las Vegas Strip. "The mistake I made was, I didn't call his wife.
"You know who wears the pants in his family? Of course you do. It's his wife (Jin). That's the mistake I made. When we had a chance to fight, we should have called Jin. We made the mistake of asking him. Jin wears the pants in that family."
Mayweather, who is about a 9-5 favorite at the MGM Grand sports book to defeat De La Hoya and remain unbeaten, then went into an extended discourse about Mosley's flaws as a fighter.
He taunted Mosley mercilessly, getting more riled up, it appeared, by the thought of Mosley than De La Hoya.
Mosley spent a few weeks mimicking Mayweather in De La Hoya's training camp in Puerto Rico, which didn't escape the notice of Mayweather.
"Oscar made a great choice, because that's all Shane Mosley is, a sparring partner," Mayweather said.
Mosley is the type of guy who beams after getting clipped on the chin, so taunts from a man he's never faced don't bother him.
He insists he once tried to arrange a fight with Mayweather and said Mayweather declined.
On Feb. 17, 1999, Mayweather successfully defended his 130-pound championship for the second time, winning a unanimous decision over Carlos Rios.
Mosley was, by that point, one of the most dominant champions in the game. Just a month earlier, he had run his record to 30-0 by scoring his 28th knockout in a lightweight title fight with Golden Johnson.
Making the lightweight limit of 135 pounds, though, was increasingly becoming a chore. He told his then-promoter, Cedric Kushner, that he couldn't do it any longer after an April 17, 1999 knockout of John Brown.
"My body was physically unable to do it any more," said the thickly muscled Mosley, who was so devoted to developing his body that he was a member of his high school weight lifting team in Pomona, Calif. "I remember the day of the weigh-in for that fight with Brown, I had to go in a hot shower and work to try to get the last three pounds off."
Mosley knew that Mayweather had no problem making 130 pounds, and with a move up imminent, he felt it would be best to challenge Mayweather as soon as possible before too many weight classes got between them.
He said he asked Mayweather at the Rios fight if he wanted to fight and was shocked by the response.
"He told me he was staying where he was because he wanted to break Monzon's record," Mosley said.
Carlos Monzon is a boxing Hall of Famer who once held the middleweight division's record of 14 consecutive successful title defenses.
Mosley, who was eyeing what he knew would be a lucrative fight against De La Hoya, shrugged it off as no big deal.
"He had his goals and I had mine," Mosley said. "I was OK with that. I asked him if he wanted to fight. He had the chance, but he had other plans."
But Mayweather said Mosley said no by pricing himself out of the fight. On a night when Mayweather was earning $150,000 to fight Rios, Mosley's father, Jack, who was then serving as his manager, asked for a $10 million payday for a potential Mayweather fight.
Mayweather's estranged father, Floyd Sr., rarely agrees with much his son says these days, but he backed Junior's contention that Mosley wanted no part of a fight between the two.
"You can say no by just saying 'No,' or you can say no by asking for crazy money," Mayweather Sr. said. "He asked for crazy money. What do you think he's telling you?"
Mosley doesn't have much interest in debating it and said he's willing to meet Mayweather after De La Hoya gets finished with him.
But Mosley said he's not sure if the fight between them will occur because he thinks De La Hoya's likely to defeat Mayweather.
Mosley is convinced Mayweather, who is one of the best defensive fighters in the history of the game, is going to try to prove his manhood against De La Hoya. That, he predicted, will lead to his downfall.
Though Mayweather is guaranteed $10 million plus a share of pay-per-view revenues – De La Hoya is guaranteed $23.3 million plus an upside – he's the 'B' side of this fight.
Mayweather, who travels with an entourage about the size of a big-time college football team, desperately wants the acceptance as the game's preeminent figure, a spot firmly held by De La Hoya.
"It's not about money or titles or any of that," Mayweather said. "It's about respect." And that, Mosley pointed out, could bring a problem. De La Hoya is the bigger puncher of the two and his best shot to win is to catch Mayweather on the end of one of his left hooks.
Though Pat Burns, the highly regarded trainer who coached both De La Hoya and Mayweather on the U.S. Olympic team, said Mayweather has an excellent chin, the fight won't reach the final bell if Mayweather is hit repeatedly by De La Hoya's hook.
"Floyd's the 'B' fighter but everyone in this room knows he wants to be the 'A' fighter so badly," Mosley said. "He's going to go out there and try to prove a point. If you go out and try to prove a point, then there are times you lose focus and get out of your game plan.
"He can't stand there flat-footed and trade with Oscar. If anyone understands that, it's me. And it's going to be a sad story for him if he tries to prove something and he gets caught."
Mosley thought about what he said for a second, then laughed out loud.
"If he gets caught and gets knocked out and that kills a fight between us, how do you think he's going to blame that on me?" Mosley asked. "You know he will. He'll lose and if we don't fight, he's still going to say it was something to do with me."
- Shane Mosley
- Oscar De La Hoya