Saturday 19th January 2019,

When Prizefighting Borrows From Pro Wrestling: Shane Mosley vs. Ricardo Mayorga

mosleyAs everybody expected, the final press conference for this weekend’s PPV rematch between Shane Mosley and Ricardo Mayorga featured the compulsory scuffle and shoving match. For those who missed it, Mosley’s wife, for some strange reason, decided to stand directly in front of Mayorga and then bend over. Mayorga gave her a pat on the rear end. After a full beat pause, Mosley lunged for Mayorga and the two were quickly separated.

The incident has been widely circulated now on social media and unanimously scoffed at as fraudulent. The WBC even issued a statement condemning the incident. It’s not clear to me what Mosley’s wife was even doing at the press conference that required her to be in the middle of the fighters, trainers and promoters. It’s far less clear to me why she deliberately positioned herself in front of Mayorga and proceeded to bend over. It’s also not clear to me how a life-long boxer like Mosley’s instinctive reaction to physical confrontation is to lunge for an awkward grapple, rather than throwing a quick, compact right hand. In real brawls, boxers tend to do what they’ve spent thousands of hours training to do: throw punches.

Mosley’s better half did a better job than he did selling the incident as legitimate. As shown in the video linked in the first paragraph, she even offered Mayorga 10 grand to sit in a chair with his hands behind his back while she punched him in the face for five minutes. This merely provided Mayorga with the perfect straight line, as he countered with his own offer of 25 grand to slap her on the backside again.

Mayorga press conferences have always been wild, trash-talking spectacles. Embracing the role of entertaining villain has been a big part of Mayorga’s appeal over the years. Ring Magazine called him “the craziest man in boxing in 2003. At the press conference for his 2007 bout with Fernando Vargas, the two were seperated on stage by a giant wall of plexiglass. Mayorga called Vargas a “fat girl” and promised to win over the Mexican fans to his side after knocking Vargas out. In the end, Mayorga escaped with a majority decision win.

Manufactured hostility and even staged brawls have long played a part in the business of selling fights. Sometimes it’s part of the tactical approach for one or both fighters, as they look for some kind of psychological edge, or else to throw their opponent off his own strategy by making him mad. I’ll note that I was at the final press conference for Lucas Matthysse and Ruslan Provodnikov last April, in which neither man so much as raised his voice or said anything remotely disrespectful about his opponent. They then proceeded to put on what will very possibly be 2015’s Fight of the Year.

Still, for a fight like this one between Mosley and Mayorga, featuring two legendary warriors well past their primes and no longer relevant, the theatrics are to be expected. And the fact is, they’ve had the desired effect, creating far more publicity than the fight would otherwise have enjoyed. No matter that the incident is being widely condemned as an embarrassing fraud. This is a case of any publicity being good publicity, as both fighters hustle hard to generate every possible pay-per-view buy for a fight that isn’t really worth paying attention to otherwise.

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