Monday, July 17, 2006 | 7:17 a.m.
Shane Mosley and Floyd Mayweather Jr. agree that they're on course to collide in the ring.
They agree such a meeting would shape up as a megafight, a box office success and a pay-per-view bonanza.
They're even amenable to fighting at either welterweight or a "catch weight" of about 150 pounds.
What they don't see eye to eye on is when the bout should take place, or whether Mayweather should take a fight in the interim.
After he dismantled Fernando Vargas in a junior middleweight rematch Saturday night at the MGM Grand, Mosley suggested Mayweather fight Antonio Margarito in the fall. Then Mosley could fight the winner next year .
Mayweather essentially said thanks, but no thanks. Margarito, the WBO welterweight champ, evidently doesn't fit into Mayweather's plans to establish himself as a "name brand" athlete who transcends his sport.
"Antonio Margarito is a good fighter, but he's not a household name," Mayweather, of Las Vegas, said. "Right now, Antonio Margarito is not a top-notch fighter. Antonio Margarito is a guy I can beat easily.
"I'm looking for a guy who can take me to the next level. Antonio Margarito is not that guy. Shane Mosley is a household name. Fighting a guy like Mosley is going to take me to the next level."
Margarito (33-4, 24 knockouts), a hard puncher originally from Tijuana, recorded decisive early stoppages in his past two fights - against Manuel Gomez at the Aladdin and against Kermit Cintron at Caesars Palace.
Even so, Mayweather said, a matchup with Margarito lacks much appeal after his unanimous-decision victory against Zab Judah in April at the Thomas & Mack Center. That bout drew 15,170 fans and an estimated 350,000 pay-per-view buys.
"Look at Antonio Margarito," said Mayweather, the IBF welterweight champ who is widely considered boxing's best pound-for-pound fighter. "How can you possibly sell a pay-per-view with a guy like this?
"Antonio Margarito's got four losses on his record to journeymen. He's got one world title, he fights straight up and down, no special effects, and you talk about wanting to get in there with a guy like me? I've got way too much for him. Get some more world titles under your belt, get some much more known opponents, then pick up the phone."
Alas, Mosley said he doesn't plan to begin training again until November; so a showdown this fall - which Mayweather wants - appears highly unlikely.
Asked about his next potential opponent, Mosley said, "Mayweather, and that's about it. Mayweather would be the one I'd want to get in the ring with, next year."
Snapping off jabs, working the body and using his speed and power to subdue Vargas, Mosley (43-4, 37 KOs) won the first five rounds on all three judges' scorecards Saturday night, then flattened his opponent with a sensational left hook in Round 6.
Vargas struggled to regain his footing, but Mosley finished him off quickly. Referee Kenny Bayless called it off at 2:38 of the sixth.
Mosley, before a crowd of 9,722 at the Grand Garden Arena, erased any doubt that might have been lingering after his 10th-round TKO victory in their first fight in February.
"I think he was weaker in this fight," Mosley said. "He was breaking down, and I knew if I hit his body, he would break down even more."
Vargas (26-4) is finished fighting at 154 pounds, and said he'll meet with his family and advisers before determining his next step. He admitted he never saw the left hook that floored him until he watched a replay on the arena's jumbo screen.
Mayweather was complimentary of Mosley's performance, to a point.
"Shane Mosley fought a good fight, but he made some mistakes," Mayweather said. "He throws too wide sometimes. You can't afford to make one mistake against me."
Mayweather (36-0, 24 KOs) projected that he'd be the betting favorite in a matchup against Mosley, and he's correct. As brilliant as he looked Saturday, Mosley would probably be installed as at least a 3-2 underdog against Mayweather.
"Now they'll probably move Shane Mosley up in the pound-for-pound (rankings), but he shouldn't be in the top five or six. He's probably about No. 12."
Give ya one guess who occupies the No. 1 spot on Mayweather's list.
"I'm definitely the drawing ticket for any fight right now," Mayweather said before leaving the MGM for a late-night workout Saturday. "All Shane Mosley did was motivate me."