Thursday, July 8, 2010 | 6:12 p.m.
Shaquille O'Neal refused to answer any questions regarding Lebron James during a press conference Thursday inside Caesars Palace.
Considering the 38-year-old NBA star is planning to step into a boxing ring to take on former world champion Shane Mosley on Friday, O'Neal figures he's got bigger things to worry about.
For the second year in a row, O'Neal has come to Las Vegas to shoot an episode of ABC's 'Shaq VS.,'. which pits the 7-foot-1 basketball center against world class athletes in their own sport.
Last year, O'Neal dropped a decision loss to Oscar De La Hoya. He'll look to grab a win this time against Mosley, who he said is a close friend of his.
"For myself, it's an honor and a dream come true," O'Neal said. "A long time ago, the great Wilt Chamberlain challenged Muhammad Ali. That fight never happened, so I'm the first professional basketball to actually have two fights against pro fighters. It's just beautiful for me."
Despite the efforts of one reporter at the press conference, O'Neal made no comment on the situation regarding his former Cleveland Cavaliers teammate James, who announced Thursday he is signing with the Miami Heat.
When asked what it would mean to Cleveland fans if James were to leave, O'Neal responded immediately with a statement on Mosley.
"I think 'Sugar' Shane is a first-ballot Hall of Famer and I will be there at his induction," O'Neal said. "Thanks for being my friend, Shane."
"Shaq VS." debuts Aug. 3 on ABC. In addition to fighting Mosley, O'Neal has arranged to race NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. and will take on professional eater Joey Chestnut in a hotdog eating contest Saturday at Serendipity 3.
He's also added some slightly less competitive episodes for this year's version, including a dance-off against pop singer Justin Bieber and a cook-off against celebrity chef Rachel Ray.
Whereas some of the challenges are designed to be more fun, it's clear that O'Neal is taking his trip to the boxing ring serious.
He's enlisted the help of boxing trainer Freddie Roach, who trains WBO welterweight champion Manny Pacquiao. Roach also helped O'Neal train for last year's fight against De La Hoya.
"Well last year with Oscar, I thought we won the fight," Roach said. "I thought the judges were off. This year, he's going to lock (Mosley) and cut the ring off."
Despite a record of 0-1 when it comes to boxing, O'Neal feels so cheated by last year's decision he's added a new wrinkle to Friday's version to motivate him more.
"If I win, I can put a tattoo on me that says I beat 'Sugar' Shane," O'Neal said. "If I lose, I'll walk from one end of Caesars to the other in a pink bikini and fly home to Orlando."
Friday's fight is located at The Roman Plaza at Caesars Palace and is free and open to the public. Doors open at 7:30 p.m.
Brett Okamoto can be reached at 948-7817 or [email protected].