The debacle that was the rematch between Bernard Hopkins and Roy Jones on Saturday was an illustration of what can happen when a previously compelling fight doesn't take place until years later than it should have.
There's little fear that May 1's welterweight showdown between Floyd Mayweather and Shane Mosley will unfold in the same barely watchable manner -- both men are younger and far nearer their peak than either Jones or Hopkins -- but the two have been circling each other warily for almost as long.
"It's shaping up to be one of the best fights of the decade," Jack Mosley, Shane's father and former trainer, told reporters during a conference call on Wednesday. "It should have happened a long time ago, but better late than never."
As the elder Mosley recalls, the two camps first discussed the possibility of a meeting when Mosley was at the tail end of his lightweight title run, and Mayweather was junior lightweight champion -- in other words, a little over a decade ago.
"Shane was getting ready to go to [welterweight], and he asked Floyd if he wanted to come up to lightweight and meet him and then Shane could go on to 147," Jack Mosley said.
For reasons that the elder Mosley could no longer recall, Mayweather demurred, and Mosley made the jump in weight. In his third fight in his new division, Mosley memorably defeated Oscar De La Hoya.
"And shortly after that, Floyd moved up to [the lightweight limit of] 135," Jack Mosley said.
Because of the bout's lengthy gestation, the elder Mosley asserted, the plan to beat Mayweather has been in place for a long time.
"We've had a strategy to fight Floyd since Floyd's been boxing," he said. "So it won't be a surprise to me when Shane beats him because we already studied him over and over again."
Naturally, Mayweather's father, Floyd Sr., dismissed that claim out of hand when he spoke to journalists immediately afterward.
"Shane going to get his ass whupped," Floyd Sr. said. "I don't really think this is going to be Floyd's toughest fight. All that [Antonio] Margarito stuff? Margarito was a walking mummy. He was tailor-made for Shane. Floyd's got too many things he can use. Shane's not smart. He doesn't use his jab enough. And when he does use it, he's going [to] get countered."
Mayweather did insist that Mosley would be a tougher fight for his son than Manny Pacquiao -- or, as he described the Filipino in an apparent, deliberately nonspecific reference to his earlier claims that the seven-weight world champion's rise has been fueled by performance enhancers -- "that 'whatever' over there who fights like a machine."
But, he continued, "I don't think Shane's the biggest puncher my son ever faced. I don't think Shane punches as hard as Oscar De La Hoya. He might swing them a little wider."
Shane Mosley is now trained by Nazim Richardson, and Jack Mosley says he hasn't been up to his son's training camp in Big Bear, Calif. But, he says, the relationship between the two of them "hasn't changed at all. I'm his father. It'll never change."
Conversely, Mayweather Sr. reported that he visits Floyd Jr.'s Las Vegas gym every day, even though his brother, Roger, will again be the chief second for the contest. Asked how important it was for him to once more be a part of his son's life given their much-documented past disagreements, Mayweather initially recoiled at the suggestion that reflecting on the issue on previous editions of HBO's "24/7" series had brought him to the verge of tears.
"I ain't never almost cried on TV. Nobody ever saw me almost cry on TV. If I'm ever going to almost cry, it's going to be personal."
But, he admitted, being once more on good terms with his son mattered to him a great deal.
"It's very, very important," he said. "I would be lying to you if I said I wasn't happy to be back with my son. I love my son."