Happy 45th birthday Sugar Shane Mosley. Today marks his 45th birthday and despite being a bit old in the tooth he has fought as recently as a few months ago, still chasing the dream of another world title before he hangs up his gloves for good. Let’s take a moment to glance at the surefire Hall of Famers career as a three weight class champion and one time pound for pound best fighter in the world.
Sugar Shane grew up in the amateur boxing hotbed of Los Angeles. He won multiple U.S. championships as an amateur and also medaled in international competitions. Although coming up short at the Olympic trials to Vernon Forrest, whom we will get to a bit later, he still racked up an amazing 250-10 amateur record.
Despite clearly being a top level talent, Mosley flew a bit under the radar when turning professional at lightweight. He was not on the Olympic team and despite the great amateur record he never got any gold at the world level which diminished his stature. It really wasn’t until a sudden IBF lightweight title shot on HBO against fellow undefeated Philip Holiday that Mosley really got on the radar. The two men had a combined 54-0 record and Mosley won the clear decision with his superior boxing skills.
Shane then went on a tear, stopping ten opponents in a row with his famous “power boxing” style that he and his father/head trainer invented before challenging Oscar De La Hoya for the vacant WBC belt (Felix Trinidad having relinquished it to move up in weight). The fight against De La Hoya was an instant classic, one of the best top level match-ups of the 21st century and in this writer’s opinion one of the best twelfth rounds you will ever see as both men went for the knockout. Mosley would win a hard-earned split decision and with it all the prestige that came with beating the top draw in the sport on boxing’s biggest stage.
After three stoppage victories following the De La Hoya win, Shane would test himself against a familiar foe in Vernon Forrest – the man who knocked him out of the Olympics. The combined record of the two elite fighters was 71-0 with a whopping 61 knockouts between them. Despite Mosley entering the bout as the best pound for pound fighter in the world and betting favorite, he left the ring with the first loss of his professional career after getting knocked down for the first time in his pro career not once, but twice, early in the fight. He would immediately rematch Forrest against the advice of many people and lose the rematch six months later in a closer fight that was still a losing effort. He just couldn’t get past the excellent jab of Vernon Forrest.
The Forrest losses begat a string of bad luck for Sugar Shane, as he had a lackluster “no contest” against Raul Marquez followed by a rematch win over Oscar De La Hoya in a bout that did not nearly live up to the hype of their first meeting. His second victory over De La Hoya was followed by back-to-back losses to Winky Wright.
Shane had ups and downs after that. He beat Fernando Vargas twice, beautifully out-boxed Luis Collazo, then dropped a decision to the rising star Miguel Cotto. In that bout, despite losing, Shane showed signs that he still had fight in him as he looked the fresher of the two men in the championship rounds and ended the fight backing up Cotto around the ring.
Shane’s last big win was an upset knockout over Antonio Margarito. Margarito was the boogeyman of the time, having just stopped Miguel Cotto’s seemingly imminent rise to superstardom. This was the infamous bout where plaster of Paris was found in Margarito’s hand wraps after Mosley’s trainer Nazim Richardson questioned a strange powdery substance. The bout went through despite the unknown material being found and suddenly Margo was not so indestructible. In fact it was quite the opposite, as Sugar Shane put on the performance of a lifetime in beating up and stopping the iron-chinned (and apparently iron-fisted) Mexican.
Post Margarito, Sugar Shane lost to a who’s who list of fighters such as Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather Jr and Canelo Alvarez. No doubt he was past his best at those points but this writer will always remember Sugar Shane for being a throwback fighter — not just because he fought all comers, but because he would immediately rematch anybody he lost to, even if he was the “A-Side” and he didn’t have to fight such big threats.
Happy 45th birthday Sugar Shane Mosley / Check out more boxing news and videos at The Boxing Channel.