A Career Remembrance: "Sugar" Shane Mosley Officially Retires From Boxing
Published: August 16, 2017
Boxing has added another fighter to the list of this summer’s retirees. This time we have a fighter that too many should have long ago retired but has yet to make it official until now. California’s “Sugar” Shane Mosley (49-10-1, 41 KOs) announced that he was now retired from the sport of boxing. Mosley will no doubt make it into the hall-of-fame as soon as he is eligible as one of the best fighters of this era. Not only was Mosley one of the best fighters in the era but also one of the most exciting with a penchant for taking on tough match ups that most fighters would have avoided.
In the 1990’s Mosley was on the outside looking in, to the biggest stars in the sport. He was not on the big stage fighting on pay-per-view (PPV) like his California rival Oscar De La Hoya. He did not have a loyal fan base like Felix Trinidad or was ranked as the best pound-for-pound like Roy Jones Jr. The first chapter of Mosley’s career was etched in the lightweight (135) division. At lightweight, Mosley was able to capture the IBF lightweight championship from Phillip Holiday in August 1997 by unanimous decision. From that point, Mosley would go on to make eight straight title defenses and win all by knockout. This portion of Mosley’s career is one of the reason’s he will be getting into the hall-of-fame. There may not have been many high-profile opponents at lightweight when Mosley ruled the division but his level of dominance there make him competitive with any lightweight in history.
After ruling over the lightweight division, Mosley took a chance by moving up two weight classes to try his hand at welterweight (147). After two victories at welterweight, Mosley got the match he had waited for his entire career in June 2000 against Oscar De La Hoya (39-6, 30 KOs). With Felix Trinidad departing the division for Super Welterweight (154) at the beginning of the year, De La Hoya-Mosley would determine the best welterweight and settle a rivalry that started in the amateurs.
There are fights, and then there are events, and the event of De La Hoya-Mosley taking place at the Staples Center in Los Angeles with several celebrities in attendance did not disappoint. However, most importantly the fight lived up to and exceeded expectations. Mosley won a split decision that night and gained the notoriety as one of the best fighters in the world. This would be the highest point of Mosley’s career as his biggest and most important victory.
After making three title defenses of his welterweight crown and being ranked by many publications as the number one pound-for-pound fighter, Mosley took a challenge by facing the man that kept him out of the Olympics in Vernon Forrest (41-3, 29 KOs). Forrest was a six-foot tall welterweight who fought behind a jab. The Atlanta, Georgia native would be an issue for any welterweight currently. He is the type of fighter that most fighters avoid. Mosley chose not to avoid Forrest and paid the price by losing convincingly twice losing his title and his aura of invincibility.
After the fights with Forrest, Mosley was positioned for a rematch with De La Hoya this time at super welterweight. The second fight was not the all around celebration that the first fight was as Mosley won a controversial decision that would only be the tip of the iceberg of backlash that he would receive. In the aftermath, Mosley was found to have taken performance-enhancing drugs before the rematch with De La Hoya. Mosley testified to doing so to a Grand Jury after a raid to BALCO found Mosley’s name on calendars with instructions on when to take certain substances. This portion of Mosley’s career has for many put an asterisk on many of his accomplishments.
After the second fight with De La Hoya, Mosley bypassed a rubber match with his California rival and once again decided to take an opponent that most had avoided. In March 2004, Mosley faced Saint Petersburg, Florida’s Ronald “Winky” Wright (51-6-1, 25 KOs). Mosley would go on to lose a wide unanimous decision to Wright and lost a rematch by majority decision. While it seemed that Mosley made a huge mistake in facing Wright, Mosley told ESPN that it was something he wanted to do.
The fights with Wright put Mosley back into somewhat of a rebuilding stage as he fought on undercards against the likes of David Estrada and Jose Luis Cruz. In 2006, Mosely fought two-times against Fernando Vargas (26-5, 22 KOs) regaining some of his past form stopping him two times consecutively. These victories and a win over solid welterweight contender Luis Collazo (37-7, 20 KOs) in February 2007 led Mosley to another big fight with Puerto Rican super star Miguel Cotto (40-5, 33 KOs). The two met at Madison Square Garden in New York in November 2007 in another fight that lived up to expectations as a great match. This time Mosley lost a unanimous decision, but the fight showed that Mosley had plenty left in the tank to challenge the new era of welterweights.
Mosley sat out most of 2008 before facing Ricardo Mayorga (32-9-1 26 KOs) in September of that year. The fight was much closer than most expected with Mosley putting in a lackluster performance. However, Mosley was able to score a knockout in the last few seconds of the fight. Every great fighter has at least one more great performance in them before they retire.
Mosley’s next fight would be the last great performance of his career as he came in as the underdog against Cotto’s conqueror Antonio Margarito (40-8, 27 KOs) in January 2009. Margarito was coming off of the biggest win of his career stopping Cotto in July 2008. Margarito was seen as too big and strong for Mosley whom many felt was on the decline. Controversy ensued before the fight started as illegal substances containing elements of plaster of paris were found in Margarito’s hand wraps. Beforehand there were reports that Margarito had trouble making weight and looked horrible in training camp. These circumstances along with Mosley fighting a perfect fight allowed him to dismantle Margarito dominating him in every way conceivable to a ninth round stoppage. It was another crowning moment for Mosley to hang his career on. After the stoppage, Mosley took a bow in the ring as a reflection of his performance that night.
From this point, Mosley’s career would go on a steep decline although with some big money fights that were certainly financially beneficial. Mosley would sit out the rest of 2009 and then get a huge money fight with Floyd Mayweather in May 2010 (49-0, 26 KOs). The fight is most famously known for Mosley hurting Mayweather twice in the second round. After Mayweather was hurt, he was able to dominate Mosley for the rest of the fight. Mosley lost a unanimous decision to Mayweather, but the big fights kept coming for him.
Mosley faced Manny Pacquiao (59-7-2, 38 KOs) in May 2011 in arguably the most lopsided loss of his career after getting knocked down in the third round and losing almost every round. The next year on the Mayweather-Cotto undercard in May 2012, Mosley faced Saul “Canelo” Alvarez (49-1-1, 34 KOs). Mosley again lost a unanimous decision to the younger fighter leaving him out of the main event landscape of the sport.
After Alvarez, Mosley had his share of wins and losses including a rematch with Mayorga on PPV and a stoppage loss to Anthony Mundine (47-8, 27 KOs) in Australia in 2013.The last fight for Mosley was another attempt to regain a world championship at welterweight against David Avanesyan (22-2-1, 11 KOs) in May 2016. Mosley lost to Avanesyan by decision leaving him with few choices of relevancy left in the sport.
The career of Mosley in totality was a great one. He was able to win titles in three divisions and establish himself as one of the best to ever compete at lightweight. The first De La Hoya and Margarito fights will be seen as his crowning achievements. However, his willingness to take on the toughest opponents like Forrest and Wright will be remembered. Mosley’s career is about the risks he was willing to take whether he won or loss. There have only been a few men in boxing to hold the moniker of “Sugar” in high regard. Mosley may not have been Robinson or Leonard, but he was good enough to wear the title of “Sugar.”
(Feature Photo: Harry How/Getty Images)