LAS VEGAS -- For the past few months, welterweight titleholders Shane Mosley and Andre Berto waged a back-and-forth war of words on Twitter. On Saturday afternoon, they came face-to-face at a news conference at Mandalay Bay to formally announce their Jan. 30 unification fight.
Their explosive styles are similar and they are both very fast, skillful fighters. That's one of the reasons HBO, which will televise the fight, pushed so hard to get the difficult deal done with Mosley promoter Golden Boy and Berto promoter Lou DiBella.
"The first time I saw Andre Berto he reminded me of a young Shane Mosley," said HBO's Kery Davis. "And the last time I saw Shane Mosley he reminded me of a young Shane Mosley. This is going to be one hell of a fight."
The last time anyone saw Mosley, 38, was when he knocked out Antonio Margarito 11 months ago to win a 147-pound title for the second time in an upset. However, it's been a frustrating year for Mosley because he could not lure any of the big names into the ring to fight him afterward.
Floyd Mayweather Jr. came out of retirement to fight Juan Manuel Marquez in September. And Saturday night, down the Strip at the MGM Grand, Miguel Cotto and Manny Pacquiao will duke it out in the year's biggest fight.
"They don't want to fight, so I'll fight these other welterweights," Mosley said. "The reason they won't fight me is because I'm the most difficult. I'm the best."
The inability of Mosley (46-5, 39 KOs) to land one of the big three -- Pacquiao, Cotto and Mayweather -- left him on the outside looking in, forcing him to eventually take on the lightning-fast Berto.
"Andre Berto's a good, young fighter but he's bitten off more than he can chew with all the talk he's been doing," Mosley said. "I've forgotten more about the fight game than he knows and the world will see that in January."
Said DiBella: "This is one of those can't miss fights in terms of action and Berto and Mosley won't have to look too hard to find each other in the ring. I think this fight represents the passing of the torch from the old lion in Mosley to the young lion in Berto and I'm expecting an early fight of the year candidate. With respect to a first ballot Hall of Famer, the Shane Mosley era ends on Jan. 30."
Regardless of who he is fighting, Mosley is just glad to be getting back to work after such a long, unwanted layoff.
"I am so excited to get back in the ring again," Mosley said. "We have the same style of boxing and he's very good. I'm very proud that he did take the fight. He's the only man to step up and take the fight. There's still some mistakes that he is making and that'll be a problem in our fight."
For Berto (25-0, 19 KOs), 26, it will be his fourth title defense but by far his biggest step up in competition.
"The time is now," the 2004 Olympian said. "This is a dream of mine, getting ready for a mega fight. I have the hunger. It's gonna be an epic fight."
Berto, who will fight in Las Vegas for only the second time and for the first time as a headliner, acknowledged that he is the underdog in the fight, but he sounded awfully confident.
"He's a future Hall of Famer, just came off a tremendous fight with Margarito," Berto said. "I'm the young buck of the crew. Since I'm the underdog, of course [I have something to prove]. But I'm going to go in there and do what I gotta do.
"He used to come and talk to me after my fights and he was amazed and said I reminded him of himself when he was coming up. My last two or three fights, when I was basically worked on some things and moved around and boxed a little bit, he probably forgot that aggressive style I have. And I think I just have to try to give him a reminder about it. I'll show him what he was nervous about a few fights back."
Dan Rafael is the boxing writer for ESPN.com.