Two stellar pugilists exited the stage this weekend, though, we must caution, this being boxing, retirement announcements are always best taken with a lump of caution. Shane Mosley on Sunday night made it known that he was hanging up the gloves, after nearly 20 years as a professional, and Winky Wright earlier in the day told the world that he was through.
The Mosley news broke on the Ring website, as Lem Satterfield reported he got the word from Mosley's camp coordinator that his loss to Canelo Alvarez on May 5 would be his final scuffle. His record stands at 46-8-1. He didn't address the news on his official Twitter account right away, so I initially wanted to add a note of caution: boxers contemplate comebacks until they head for that final dirt nap. But on Monday morning, he Tweeted this: "Good Mourning everybody Just want to thank you for showing me so much love. Had a great career and loved every moment of it. win, lose or draw."
Mosley didn't look horrid against Canelo, and in fact could beat a fair number of folks at that weight class, even at age 40. But as of today, you can start the countdown to his entrance into the Hall of Fame, in 2017. The ex lightweight ace, who also held crowns at 147 and 154 pounds, will be remembered for truly emerging on all radar screens when he went from 135 to 147 and beat Oscar De La Hoya, via split decision, in June 2000. His star dimmed a bit from back to back losses to Vernon Forrest in 2002, but he regained his shine with another win over Oscar, in 2003.
It emerged in 2008 that Mosley used an illegal PED prior to this bout, an admission the California boxer made in grand jury testimony. His rep took a hit, as he told one and all--including me, looking me in the eyes as he said it during a one on one for a then cancelled Mosley-Zab Judah fight-- in defending himself that the accusation of PED use was bogus, that he must've been dosed unknowingly, before admitting under oath that he knew what he was doing when receiving chemical aid from Victor Conte at BALCO.
Back to back losses to Winky Wright in 2004 had many pundits proclaiming that clearly Mosley's best days were far behind him. But he proved doubters wrong, to an extent, with back to back wins against Fernando Vargas, in 2006. Vargas, though, was near the end of his line at the time. Many thought Mosley got the better of Miguel Cotto when they met in NYC in 2007, but the judges said otherwise, giving the Puerto Rican a UD nod. Now 37, Mosley's late-career apex came when he whacked Antonio Margarito around, and scored a TKO9 win in 2009, right after inspectors found hardened hand pads in the Mexican's mitts prior to their bout.
Critics of Mosley will say that Margarito wasn't the monster many thought, and was in fact an ordinary boxer if not able to use a PED in his gloves. Mosley didn't have much luck against Floyd Mayweather in his next bout, though he did buzz Money on the way to a wide decision loss. Mosley next engaged in a dreadful waltz with Sergio Mora, and followed that with a pick-up-the-paycheck effort against Pacquiao in May 2011. But he regained fans with a spirited effort against the phenom Canelo on the Mayweather-Cotto undercard. "Canelo can go a long ways," Mosley said after the loss to a man 19 years younger than he. "When the kids start to beat you, you might need to start going to promoting."
Indeed. Mosley says he has ample money in the bank, despite the theory that a divorce picked his pockets. He was always willing to take on an immense challenge and he must be lauded for never being a ducker. It could be argued that he maybe didn't live up to the sum of his parts, losing a bunch of efforts to fighters many experts thought he was more skilled than, but his willingness to test his personal boundaries will never be questioned. Best of luck to Shane Mosley in his retirement, and staving off that inevitable urge to test himself in the ring just one more time.
While Mosley's Hall call seems imminent, Winky Wright's will be up for more debate. He came back to the ring on June 2 after being away for three years, and looked OK against young gun Peter Quillin. But at 40, the reflexes weren't as cooperative as they once were for a man whose real name is "Ronald" but was tagged Winky by his grandma as a toddler. Once of the best defenders of his era, Wright was knocked down in round five and hurt a few other times. Sunday morning, after sleeping on it, he Tweeted: "It was fun while it lasted I did what I set out to do and that was to be great. Part of being a good boxer is knowing when to call it quits.
If I can't be the champion again theres no need to keep boxing. But I thank all of u from the bottom of my heart for always supporting me & I'll still be ringside at all the fights!"
He will be known, as will Mosley, as one who sought stiff challenges. (Though he also had a rep as a "too tough" negotiator, with some thinking he often asked for more many than his popularity called for.) Wright, who debuted in 1990, built up a nice record in Europe, as he fought for the Acaries brothers. He was known to hardcore fights fans as he wracked up title defenses of the IBF 154 pound crown he won against Robert Frazier in 2001. In his fifth defense, when he downed Shane Mosley, his time had really arrived. "A lot of people always told them that I was good but they didn’t believe it because I never fought one of the big dudes. Now that I beat one of the big-name, pound-for-pound so-called fighters, you gotta give it up to me. I did what I said I can do,” he said then. Another win against Mosley and his thorough domination of Felix Trinidad in 2005 gave him pound for pound cred in a big way. No, he wasn't a bomber or a trader, and therefore his skills were best appreciated by true fans of the sweet science. His jab and impenetrable D, featuring the longest elbows known to man, were frustrating even for the most skilled sharpshooters. Wright didn't agree with the judges who saw his 2006 clash with Jermain Taylor a draw, and he stubbornly clung to a dollar figure he thought he deserved, which squashed a rematch. Instead, he bettered Ike Quartey in December 2006, in Quartey's last bout.
Wright went out of his comfort zone, and paid for it, when he agreed to go to 170 to snag a payday with Bernard Hopkins. He suffered his first loss in eight years in that one, then took almost two years off. He flirted with fights, and sometimes marinated in self-pity and frustration. "Why should I go fight these lesser guys when I know I'm above them?" Wright said in 2008. "You got De La Hoya. He's a steady loser; he lost two of his last three. Taylor lost his last fight. All of these fighters lose. But they have opponents who want to fight them again. I have nobody that wants to fight me because they know they're in for a tough fight. They're ducking me, they don't want to fight. That's why I'm left out. They want me to fight Kessler. Why do I need to fight these dudes? I'm at the top." He capitulated, and took a tuneup date with Michi Munoz for December 2008, but hurt his hands and cancelled it. A face-off with Arthur Abraham was discussed but instead Wright decided to lock horns with Paul Williams. It didn't go well; Long Tall Paul outboxed Wright clearly. He licked his wounds, set up a fight with Grady Brewer, and the plug got pulled on that card at the end of 2009. Kelly Pavlik went in another direction, a crack at Sergio Martinez in April 2010, so Winky went back to the links, and waiting. A K9 Bundrage gig didn't happen, neither did a scrap with Matthew Macklin in April 2011, because of a Wright injury. He filled the time helping out Chad Dawson, while eyeing Canelo or Miguel Cotto. He got a chance against a young gun, in Peter Quillin, and in that scrap Saturday, determined that at 40, he just can't do what he used to be able to. So he bid adieu to the game.
Will he resist the inevitable lure? Hard to predict...If you had to wager if either he or Mosley would un-retire, you have to think there is a decent chance that happens. It's human nature, it's especially human nature in boxing, with no teammates around to drill the truth into you in training camp. We at TSS thank both men for their service in entertaining us, and hope that their choice does them justice, in every which way, for them, their family and their long-term health and well-being.
Who wins the WBO Middleweight title fight Dec. 19th?