Boxing: Mayweather takes diversion while Pacquiao lies in wait
Money Man bides time before showdown to find best pound-for-pound fighter
He used to be known as Pretty Boy but now Floyd Mayweather Jnr wishes to be called Money – no doubt because it is a commodity he loves above everything else, apart from himself. Boxing's supreme craftsman returns to the ring in Las Vegas next Saturday against Sugar Shane Mosley, one of the game's great warriors, in the biggest fight of the year so far.
Yet Mosley's WBA welterweight title will not be at stake because the Money Man has refused to pay the sanctioning fee. "I don't need titles," says the undefeated five-weight world champion and former WBC and IBF welterweight belt holder. "At this stage of my career it's all about enhancing my legacy."
Not since Muhammad Ali has a fighter been as much a law unto himself as Mayweather, who, like Ali – and to the annoyance of his contemporaries – has the ability to justify his arrogance. He even proclaims himself the greatest boxer of all time.
"Things change, it's out with the old and in with the new. Muhammad Ali was one hell of a fighter but Floyd Mayweather is the best." This, of course, is highly contentious, but what we must agree upon is that the 33-year-old Mayweather, last seen boxing the ears off Juan Manuel Marquez, is an artist on canvas, a Gauguin in gloves. Ask Ricky Hatton.
A curious contest, this. Mayweather should have been settling the argument with Manny Pacquiao about who currently is the world's best pound-for-pounder. But he refused to sign a contract for a fight set to gross $250 million because the Filipino would not accept Olympic-style blood testing. Yet he has now agreed to meet Mosley, who last October admitted in court while suing Balco's Victor Conte for defamation that he knowingly used the banned substance EPO during the build-up to a 2003 contest with Oscar De La Hoya. Not a peep from Mayweather about this, which suggests he was creating controversy to build up more interest for when he and Pacquiao do meet, probably later this year.
Mosley, who has undergone five blood and urine tests, is himself a three-weight world champion and claims that Mayweather has been avoiding him for years. He has the pedigree to scupper what would be the richest fight in history, but at 38 he could be a little leg-weary by the time Mayweather, supreme master of the art of backfoot boxing, has manoeuvred him around the ring for a dozen rounds. "This is a competitive sport and I'm ready to go into the history books as the guy who beat the great Floyd Mayweather," he says.
Mayweather counters: "Like I have always said, there is no remedy on how to beat Floyd Mayweather. It's like a difficult maths problem that no one can solve."
Mayweather loves money like Goldfinger loves gold. He likes to flaunt his wealth, collecting the huge price tags on the jewellery he wears like some collect stamps. The King of Bling is a big betting man and seldom leaves his Las Vegas mansion without tens of thousands of dollars in gambling money. This fight is something of a gamble for him but at 4-1 on, one he should win without much discomfort.
It takes place at the MGM Grand, where 14 years ago Herbie Hide pocketed £2m when losing the WBO heavyweight belt to Riddick Bowe. On Friday, Hide will be back at the venue where he began his career 21 years ago, York Hall in London's Bethnal Green, to take part in Barry Hearn's Prizefighter cruiserweight tournament, hoping to do an Audley Harrison and propel himself towards another world-title fight at 38.
The Dancing Destroyer has had 48 bouts, winning the last 13, most of them in Germany, where he is now based against hand-picked pushovers from Eastern Europe. Herbert Okechuka Maduagwa came to Britain from Nigeria and was adopted by a Norwich family. He went to private school and college but turned into a bad lad. Yet he became one of only three Brits to hold a version of the world heavyweight title in the last century, with Frank Bruno and latterly David Haye.
I can count on the fingers of one hand fighters who I would hesitate to invite round for tea. The unpleasantly bumptious Hide is one of them. He is not without talent but his fortitude was found wanting against quality opposition such as Bowe and Vitali Klitschko. It will be interesting to see if our Mr Hide has become a Dr Jekyll.
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