Looking Back Almost As Good as Looking Ahead

As we head into 2018, it has been well chronicled just how great 2017 was for the sport of boxing. There were several big fights that captured the public’s attention along with the emergence of some special fighters who may be on their way to being remembered as all-time greats. However, there has been one story that’s been overlooked – and that is how many potential Hall of Fame fighters announced their retirement in 2017. Here are eight, listed according to the date on which they turned pro.

Shane Mosley

Turned pro 2-11-93 and last fought 5-28-16. Won world titles at 135-147-154, skipping junior welterweight which he no doubt could’ve won. His career record is 49-10-1 (41) and he went 15-7 (12) in title bouts. He defeated eight former or future world champs and was stopped only once.

Mosley never lost as a lightweight and is best remembered for his two-fight series against Oscar De La Hoya, Vernon Forrest, Winky Wright and Fernando Vargas. Mosley at his best was a terrific boxer-puncher during his days as a lightweight and welterweight, losing only to Forrest, who was a bad style match-up for him and to Winky Wright who was just too big for him. Mosley was no doubt one of the greatest lightweights since Roberto Duran relinquished the title in 1978. Sadly, Mosley’s record is a little misleading because he fought way past his prime, going 5-6-1 in his last 12 bouts between 2007 and 2016.

Juan Manuel Marquez.

Turned pro 5-29-93 and last fought 5-17-14. Won world titles at 126-130-135-140. Has a career record of 56-7-1 (40) and went 9-5-1 (3) in title bouts. Best remembered for his four-fight series with arch-rival Manny Pacquiao and his solid win over fellow HOFer Marco Antonio Barrera, Marquez is the third Mexican fighter to have won a world title in four weight divisions. An outstanding counter-puncher whose style evolved as he moved up in weight, Marquez’s signature win was his one-punch knockout over Manny Pacquiao on 12-8-12. He drilled him with a counter right hand, causing Pacquiao to go down face first and not moving for over a minute. Marquez defeated 13 former or future world champs and was never stopped.

Floyd Mayweather

Turned pro 10-11-96 and last fought 8-26-17. Won world titles at 130-135-140-147-154. Has a career record of 50-0 (27) and went 26-0 (10) in title bouts. Mayweather was voted The Ring magazine’s “Fighter of the Year” twice and beat 22 former or future world champs. Considered one of the best defensive boxers in history, he was also a great counter-puncher with a high boxing IQ who understood the fighting styles of his opponents. His signature win was beating the undefeated Diego Corrales (33-0) for the WBC super featherweight title. His most notable win came against eight division title holder Manny Pacquiao on 5-2-15 by unanimous decision. Mayweather’s record reads like a who’s who list of outstanding fighters met during his era. He brilliantly self-managed his career to his biggest paydays and is best known for grossing more money than any other fighter in boxing history while setting PPV buy records that only he broke.

Wladimir Klitschko

Turned pro 11-16-96 and last fought 4/29/17. Won a gold medal at the 1996 Olympics in the super heavyweight division representing Ukraine. Klitschko held the IBF, WBA and WBO heavyweight titles longer than any other fighter in history, and he is the second longest-reigning heavyweight champion of all-time. His reign of nine years, seven months and seven days is second only to the reign of Joe Louis. His career record is 64-5 (53) and he went 25-4 (19) in title bouts. His era wasn’t the strongest in heavyweight history but he did defeat 10 former or future title holders. Stylistically, Klitschko utilized his 6’6″ height and 81-inch reach fighting as a boxer-puncher. At the time of his retirement his right hand was the single shot biggest punch in boxing. Wladimir lacks a signature win but fought every worthy challenger of his era with great success.

Miguel Cotto

Turned pro 2-23-2001 and last fought 12-2-17. Cotto is the first Puerto Rican fighter to win a world title in four different divisions: 140-147-154-160. Has a career record of 41-6 (33), going 20-6 (16) in world title bouts, defeating 17 former or future world champs in the process. Cotto started his career as a swarmer who was a tremendous body puncher. As he moved up in weight, he tweaked his style and used the ring more fighting as a boxer and stylist. Cotto participated in many memorable bouts with upper echelon fighters the likes of Zab Judah, Shane Mosley, Antonio Margarito twice, Manny Pacquiao, Floyd Mayweather, Sergio Martinez and Canelo Alvarez. Cotto was a fan favorite for much of his career because of his style and usually action-packed fights.

Roberto Guerrero.

Turned pro 4-22-01 and last fought 7-15-17. Guerrero held world titles at featherweight and junior welterweight. His career record is 33-6-1 (18) and he went 5-3 (4) in title bouts. Guerrero was a very durable and tough grinder who was always in great condition and was a tireless bell-to-bell worker. What he lacked in natural skill he made up with heart and grit. He even went the distance with two much bigger men in Floyd Mayweather and Keith Thurman in welterweight title bouts. His most notable win came against former welterweight title holder Andre Berto, fighting above his natural weight and retaining his WBC interim welterweight title. Guerrero defeated seven former or future world title holders and was only stopped once during his career.

Timothy Bradley

Turned pro 8-20-04 and last fought 4-9-16. Bradley held world titles at junior welterweight and welterweight. His career record is 33-2-1 (14) and went 10-1 (2) in title bouts, defeating 11 former or future title holders along the way. Bradley defeated Lamont Peterson, Devon Alexander and Joel Casamayor as a junior welterweight and Juan Manuel Marquez and Manny Pacquiao as a welterweight. He is most remembered for his trilogy with Pacquiao between 2012-2016. His signature win occurred on 6-9-12 when he defeated Pacquiao via split decision in their first encounter. Bradley tried to fight as a boxer-puncher but was often forced to box instead due to his lack of finishing power. He is also known for having a great chin, having never been stopped during his career.

Andre Ward

Turned pro 12-18-04 and last fought 6-17-17. Ward won a gold medal fighting as a light heavyweight at the 2004 Olympics representing the United States. As a pro he became the undisputed champ fighting at super middleweight and light heavyweight. During his reign as light heavyweight champ he was ranked as the best pound-for-pound fighter in boxing by The Ring. His career record is 32-0 (16) and he was 9-0 (2) in title bouts. Fighting during the years 2009-2011, Ward defeated every opponent he faced to win the “Super Six” tournament created by Showtime with the intent to crown the best super middleweight in the world. After defeating Carl Froch in the finale, Ward made two more title defenses and then, after some managerial issues, moved up to light heavyweight. In his third bout at 175, Ward defeated undefeated Sergey Kovalev, the supposed baddest light heavyweight in the world, to become the undisputed champ. Six months later he defeated Kovalev in a rematch and then retired shortly afterward. During his career Ward fought as a counter-puncher who had the capacity to morph his style into whatever it took to beat the man in front of him. There’s a strong case to be made that Ward ranks anywhere between the first and third greatest super middleweight in boxing history.

That’s an incredible amount of Hall of Fame worthy fighters to all retire in the same calendar year. Today being voted into the HOF doesn’t mean as much as it used to, but Shane Mosley, Juan Manuel Marquez, Floyd Mayweather, Wladimir Klitschko, Miguel Cotto and Andre Ward would qualify as first ballot HOF’ers in most eras.

Mosley, fighting as a lightweight, was a physical beast and never lost at the weight. Shane is clearly one of the top-10 fighters ever as a lightweight and was considered the pound-for-pound best fighter in boxing circa 1998-2000. Marquez fighting between featherweight and junior lightweight is definitely among the all-time greats based on his resume and longevity. Mayweather’s best win against an undefeated fighter was as a junior lightweight, and he’s in the conversation as one of the greatest 130-pound champs ever. Floyd also reigned at the top of the pound-for-pound list for more than a couple of years during his career.

Cotto is one of the greatest Puerto Rican fighters in boxing history and his resume will stand the test of time. As stated above, Andre Ward is in the conversation as the greatest super middleweight in the history of the division and left boxing when he was considered number one pound-for-pound. And Wladimir Klitschko, having participated in more heavyweight title bouts than any other man to hold the title, along with being the most dominant fighter in the division for a decade, is a sure first ballot Hall of Famer.

As for Bradley and Guerrero, they aren’t on the level as the previous mentioned but they most certainly deserve to be on the ballot and are worth a look.

Frank Lotierzo can be contacted at GlovedFist@Gmail.com

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