The ink was barely dry on the paper that Floyd Mayweather Jr. had signed Wednesday to finalize the year's biggest bout, a May 1 match with Shane Mosley at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in Las Vegas, when Mosley began imagining the possibilities that lie ahead.
For more than a decade, Mayweather and Mosley have hurled accusations at each other, each accusing the other of ducking a fight.
Mosley, a man who has fought all of the best fighters of his era, often moving up in weight to do it, had seemed to be the odd man out in the loaded welterweight division only a few short weeks ago, however.
The unbeaten Mayweather seemed to be on a collision course for a fight with the reigning pound-for-pound king, Manny Pacquiao. Each fighter was looking at upwards of $40 million in purse for that bout.
Mosley signed for a difficult, but far less lucrative fight to meet Andre Berto on Jan. 30 in Las Vegas and was simply trying to stay relevant in boxing's deepest division. The top four men in the Yahoo! Sports rankings – Pacquiao, Mayweather, Mosley and Paul Williams – are all welterweights, but Mosley was the one who seemed to be getting brushed aside.
But with the stroke of Mayweather's pen on Wednesday, Mosley now has the ability to not only prove that he's the best fighter in the world, but to more importantly prove he's a clean athlete.
He's been linked to performance-enhancing drug usage since 2003 when he was implicated in the Bay Area Laboratory Co-Operative scandal. He admitted in testimony to a federal grand jury that he used two anabolic steroids as well as EPO, a blood doping agent.
He insisted he was tricked by BALCO founder Victor Conte and said he used the substances unknowingly. The two are in the midst of an ongoing lawsuit.
Mosley said Wednesday he not only quickly agreed to Mayweather's demand for random blood and urine testing to be administered by the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, but that he welcomed the opportunity to be tested.
"They can test me every day, twice a day, if they want," Mosley said. "I'm a clean athlete and I've been a clean athlete. I'm willing to do this for every fight I have for the rest of my career. I want it so you guys (in the media) know, so the public knows, so everybody knows. I'm clean, I've been clean and I have nothing to hide."
And though he's 38 and hasn't fought since a destruction of Antonio Margarito a year ago, he said he'll go into the Mayweather bout at 100 percent. He insists he's lost nothing to age, including not a shred of speed or quickness, and sees the bout with Mayweather as a way to prove his point.
Mayweather is 40-0 and has long been regarded as the most skilled fighter in boxing. Mayweather has often ridiculed Mosley, who is 46-5 with 39 knockouts, particularly needling him about his five losses.
Mosley has lost twice to the late Vernon Forrest, twice to Winky Wright and once to Miguel Cotto.
"I lost to guys he wouldn't fight," Mosley said, proudly.
And though Mosley was sensational in his win over Margarito in front of a record crowd at the Staples Center in Los Angeles on Jan. 24, 2009, he was far less than sensational in a middling win over Ricardo Mayorga before a sparse crowd at the Home Depot Center in Carson, Calif., on Sept. 27, 2008.
He admits he wasn't himself in that fight, but said he had blood blisters on his feet from the new shoes he was wearing that limited his movement.
"After about the fifth or sixth round, I was stuck in one spot and couldn't move pretty much," he said. "But it all worked out in the end. I think I got the Margarito fight because he saw that and thought I was (vulnerable). It's all a domino effect.
"The bottom line is, I'm the best fighter in the world. I know that. I believe I've proven that. But this is a great fight, a big fight against a guy who is very talented. When I get my chance, I'll show you who deserves to be the best in the world."
Promoter Richard Schaefer, the CEO of Golden Boy Promotions, was ecstatic to finally get what shapes up as the year's biggest fight made. Both Mosley and Mayweather come off far better than Pacquiao.
While Mayweather and Mosley are each in the top three, Pacquiao is fighting Joshua Clottey, a strong guy but a decidedly lesser opponent who is coming off of a loss. In addition, Pacquiao has brought swirls of suspicion around himself by refusing to submit to the testing that Mosley and Mayweather have agreed to do.
There had never been suspicion surrounding Pacquiao before, but his adamant refusal to consent to testing that would have conclusively proven he's clean put doubt in more than a few minds.
And Mayweather, who has been dogged by some fans and others in the media as being afraid of a tough fight, will finally be able to shed that label. There is no tougher fighter he could have taken. A bout with Pacquiao would have been difficult. So, too, would a match with Williams. None, though, would have been more demanding than the one he took against Mosley.
"I'm happy for Shane, because he's waited a long time for this opportunity," Schaefer said. "But you know, I'm really happy for Floyd, too. What this does is, it shuts up all these critics who have called him a coward and all these awful names. Now, they have to eat their words.
"Floyd Mayweather is not a coward. He's not afraid to fight anyone and now he's proving it. This is a great day for boxing. We love making these kinds of fights. These are the kinds of fights that help the entire sport and I'm so pleased it's finally done and we can get to work on it."
Mosley had to abort his training camp when Berto was forced to withdraw from their Jan. 30 fight because of the earthquake in Haiti. Berto's sister and nephew, as well as other family members, were in Haiti at the time of the Jan. 12 quake.
That time in camp wasn't wasted, as it got Mosley back into the ring and into the flow of boxing. And he now has a big carrot dangling ahead of him. He knows that if he beats Mayweather, he'll likely get a fight with Pacquiao.
"I'll fight him with or without a blood test," Mosley said. "I just want to fight these guys to show everyone that I'm the best fighter in the world."
- Shane Mosley
- Manny Pacquiao