LOS ANGELES-Inside the pristine walls of the Biltmore Hotel former world champions Sugar Shane Mosley and Zab Judah shoveled enough verbal dirt at each other to sully the downtown hotel forever on Monday.
The skies were blue, the temperature about 82 degrees, but inside the Biltmore it was much hotter than the outdoors as Mosley and Judah fired barbs and hit below the belt in their press conference to announce their May 31 fight at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas. The fight will be televised by HBO.
Judah ignited the talking war with several taunts as he waited for Mosley to arrive inside the press conference room.
“Somebody look for Shane under the bed,” shouted Judah before Mosley arrived. “Tell him to come out. It’s war time.”
After Judah’s team spoke briefly, Mosley stepped to the podium to speak about their upcoming fight and was interrupted several times.
“I want to show I’m the best welterweight in the world,” said Mosley (44-5, 37 KOs), whose last fight against WBA welterweight titleholder ended in a close decision loss to Miguel Cotto last November. “It’s going to be a spectacular fight.”
When Mosley began talking about his goal of a rematch with WBA titleholder Miguel Cotto, Judah cut in.
“You’re not going to make it. You’re never going to see Cotto,” Judah shot.
The usually ultra calm Mosley explained that Judah’s weakness is his emotional outbursts and chastised the New Yorker for talking out of turn.
“There he is getting too emotional again,” said Mosley to Judah who was sitting next to the podium. “Come on now. Let’s grow up.”
Mosley, though seemingly calm, was slightly agitated by Judah’s outbursts.
Both fighters, though small for welterweights – both are under five feet, nine inches in height – are known for their explosive speed and power. It’s that blend of knockout speed that has enabled them to grab several world titles. Mosley is a former lightweight, welterweight and junior middleweight world champion. Judah is a former junior welterweight and welterweight world champion.
Speed is their primary weapon.
Judah (36-5, 25 KOs) was reinstated by the Nevada State Athletic Commission after being suspended for rule violations during his fight with Floyd Mayweather in April 2006. During that world title fight he hit Mayweather on the groin and ignited a free for all in the ring that involved trainers and other persons. Roger Mayweather was also suspended.
In Judah’s last mega fight against Puerto Rico’s Cotto in June 2006, the speedy Brooklyn southpaw hurt Cotto with several stifling uppercuts early in the fight, but was pummeled by the Puerto Rican later on. Judah was stopped in the 11th round.
Judah won his last two fights by decision in 2007.
Many feel Judah held back from looking impressive so he could secure a big fight against the elite boxers.
“These two fighters are superstars,” said Richard Schaefer, CEO for Golden Boy. “They’re both elite fighters.”
Pomona’s Mosley began 2007 with a convincing win over another Brooklyn fighter Luis Collazo who is a southpaw like Judah. Then he fought Cotto at Madison Square Garden and lost by a close decision.
“I learned a lot from fighting Cotto,” said Mosley who refuses to dispute the decision. “He was pretty clever in the ring. I picked up a few things from him.”
But when talk came to fighting Judah, who constantly interrupted while Mosley spoke, all pretense of cordiality was dropped by the Pomona fighter. Especially when Judah bet Mosley that he couldn’t knock him out.
“I bet $100,000 that you can’t knock me out,” Judah, 30, shouted. “You’ll never knock me out.”
Mosley hunched over the mike and calmly said, “I’m not going to take your little money. You’re a stepping stone.”
After that came the verbal blows below the belt.
“I promise he’s not going to fight no more,” Judah proclaimed. “He’s got a problem.”
Judah claimed that he conquered the East Coast and now he’s conquering the West Coast. And also commented that Mosley’s taking of strength enhancing drugs in the past will not help during their fight.
“Shane has all kinds of flaws,” said Judah, adding that Winky Wright and Vernon Forrest told him that Mosley doesn’t hit that hard as a welterweight. “His punching power is gone.”
Mosley said that Judah’s chin is his weakness and cited the Brooklyn fighter’s inability to finish the fight against Cotto. He also added that after their fight Cotto probably went to the hospital while Judah was told by the referee “I love you too much.”
Judah said Cotto didn’t go to a hospital after fighting Mosley but went to “a Latin party.”
Mosley didn’t smile.
“You’re too little for me,” Mosley told Judah and the media. “Zab Judah will be my next victim. One of my problems recently has been I’m too nice in the ring. I’m not going to be nice any more. I’m going to destroy my opponents from now on.”
Mosley looked over at Judah and promised a short night.
“I’m knocking you out,” Mosley said.
Judah shook his head at Mosley’s words.
“It’s do or die,” Judah said. “It’s going to be cracking. Trust me.”