Shane Mosley “Sugar”: A Biography!

Shane Mosley
Date of Birth:September 7, 1971
Place of Birth:Lynwood, California, United States
Nationality: American
Gym(s): Pomona Gym
Location: California
Coaches: Jack Mosley (his father) until 2004, Naazim Richardson from 2007
Boxing Career: Amateur, Professional
Nicknames: Sugar
Height: 5 Ft 9 inches. 175cm.
Reach: 74 inches. 188cm
Stance: Orthodox
Weight Class:Lightweight, Welterweight, Light middleweight.
Professional Record: Total Fights: 61, Wins: 49, Wins by KO: 41, Losses: 10, Draws 1
No contests 1
Notable Fights:Shane Mosley vs Oscar De La Hoya I & II, Shane Mosley vs Vernon Forrest I & II, Shane Mosley vs Ronald ‘Winky’ Wright I & II, Shane Mosley vs Fernando Vargas I & II, Shane Mosley vs Miguel Cotto, Shane Mosley vs Antonio Margarito, Shane Mosley vs Floyd Mayweather Jr, Shane Mosley vs Manny Pacquiao, Shane Mosley vs Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez


It is tacit but undisputed boxing truism that if “Sugar” prefixes your given name then you are a little bit special. Speed, skill and showmanship are a given when you accept the ‘nickname’ Ray Robinson and Ray Leonard simply turned into legend. Shane Mosley garnered that moniker and had the attributes mentioned – this is his tale. 

Shane Mosley: Early Life and Amateur Career

Shane Mosley’s interest in boxing was as unusual as he was special. With two older sisters for company, Shane Mosley’s boxing desire stemmed from watching his father Jack Mosley fight in street fights. Jack Mosley noting his sons interest, took up the roll of trainer and manager from the age of eight. The pair were some team with Shane Mosley completing a simply outstanding amateur career by capturing various titles and medals including becoming,

  • The 1989 United States Amateur Champion at Lightweight 132 lb (60 kg)
  • Silver Medalist at the 1989 World Junior Championships in San Juan Puerto Rico at Lightweight 132 lb (60 kg)
  • The 1990 United States Amateur Champion at Lightweight 132 lb (60 kg)
  • Bronze Medalist at the 1990 Goodwill Games in Seattle at Lightweight 132 lb (60 kg)
  • The 1992 United States Amateur Champion at Light welterweight 139 lb (63 kg)

Whilst ending his amateur career with an almost unbelievable unofficial record of 250 wins and 16 losses.

Early Professional Career

On the 11th of February, 1993 a twenty one year old Shane Mosley would make his professional debut at the Hollywood Palladium and knock out his opponent Greg Puente in the fifth round. This would be the first of 7 wins alone in ’93 for Shane Mosley with all victories coming inside the distance. Not a bad start, yet 1994 would see Mosley improve. Fighting nine times, Shane Mosley would win all but one of the fights (against Oscar Lopez) inside the distance.

1995 would see Shane Mosley slow down but still defeat Raul Hernandez by second round knockout, before also disposing of the first man ever to hold the WBO World lightweight championship, Mauricio Aceves, by KO in the 4th round. Indeed, things continued in much the same fashion for the next two years and by May, 1997 Shane Mosley’s record stood at 23 wins with 22 inside the distance.

First World Title and Early Defences

With such a phenomenal start to his career it was inevitable ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley would earn an early title shot and on the 2nd of August 1997, Mosley would take an opportunity to defeat the previously undefeated Philip Holiday (31-0, 16 KOs) via unanimous decision (116-113, 117-111, 115-114) to become the IBF Lightweight Champion of the world. The bout took place at the Mohegan Sun Casino in Connecticut and some brief highlights illustrating Mosley’s blistering hand speed and speed in general are viewable here

Shane Mosley Title defences – Eight (lightweight)

Some relatively easy first defences of the title would follow for Mosley with him accounting for Manuel Gomez and Demetrio Ceballos by KO and TKO respectively. Former world super featherweight champion, John John Molina (45-4, 30 KOs) would similarly be knocked out in round 8 in May 1998 at the Trump Taj Mahal, in Atlantic City. Whilst Colombian Wilfredo Ruiz (25-3, 19 KOs) would suffer a knockout in round 5 of their bout on the 27th of June 1998. Eduardo Bartolome Morales (26-0, 21 KOs) also would be stopped in the fifth round of their fight at Madison Square Garden on the 22nd of September, 1998.

It would take until the 14th of November, 1998 and the 6th defence of Shane Mosley’s IBF title (in less than two years) before Mosley faced any opposition which caused him difficulty: former WBC super featherweight champion Jesse James Leija succumbing to knockdowns in rounds 6,7, and 9 as the fight progressed longer than usual, before being unable to answer the bell in the tenth. 

Shane Mosley, continued to defending his title at remarkable speed, taking just two months out before returning to knock out American Golden Johnson in 7th round, at the Civic Center in Pensacola, Florida in January 1999. Shane Mosley’s 8th and final defence of the IBF Lightweight title occurring on the 17th of April, 1999 when he defeated former USBA super featherweight champion John Brown by TKO when the ringside doctor intervened and stopped the fight after round eight.

Following the eighth defence of his title Mosley vacated his lightweight title and moved up two weight divisions to welterweight. 

Shane Mosley at Welterweight

Shane Mosley’s career at welterweight began well with him scoring two consecutive knockout victories over Wilfredo Rivera and Willy Wise, which set up the huge ‘mega fight’. Mosley no doubt had this in mind with his move up the divisions. The prize, the ‘Golden Boy’ Oscar De La Hoya and the WBC welterweight title.

Shane Mosley vs Oscar De La Hoya

On the 17th June, 2000, Shane Mosley would fight Oscar De La Hoya (32-1-0) at the newly built Staples Center in Los Angeles for the WBC, IBA & vacant lineal welterweight titles. Mosley, ultimately prevailing and winning a split decision victory 116-112, 115-113 vs 113-115. As can be seen from the following video the bout was a great fight and whilst neither fighter was in danger of going down, that did not detract from the quality of the performances. Oscar De la Hoya coming on strong in the first half of the fight, Shane Mosley doing likewise in the second and both going ‘toe to toe’ for the knockout in the final round.

The fight was named The Ring magazine Event of the Year for 2000 and one that made Shane Mosley an undefeated two division world champion.

Shane Mosley would then defend his titles 3 times over the next 7 months against Antonio Diaz, Shannon Taylor and IBO super welterweight champion Adrian Stone. All of them defeated in six rounds or less. This would lead to Mosleys next major bout(s) against Vernon Forrest 

Shane Mosley: First Professional Loss(es) vs Vernon Forrest.

Shane Mosley’s first fight against Vernon Forrest (33-0, 26 KOs) took place at Madison Square Garden in New York City on the 26th of January, 2002. Mosley, put down twice in the second round as he went on to lose a unanimous decision. An accidental clash of heads in the second round might have hindered Mosley but there was no doubting the judges scorecards: 115-110, 117-108 and 118-108.

An immediate rematch occurred on the 20th July 20, 2002, with the fight once again going the full 12 rounds and to a unanimous decision. The scorecards were closer this time, with Forrest having kept on the outside to utilise his height and reach advantage, yet still win relatively comfortably 117-111, 116-112, 115-113.

Both fights were conducted without controversy and The New York Times and The Ring both provide excellent takes on what happened during the fights,

Including the altruistic nature of Vernon Forrest and his senseless, tragic death (shot at a gas station age 38).

Shane Mosley at Light middleweight.

Shane Mosley’s instant reaction to his losses was to move up in weight. However, as is often the case after an unexpected defeat, Shane Mosley did not recover or perform particularly well. The results thereafter a somewhat poor ‘mixed bag’, complete with controversy.

  • Shane Mosleys first fight afterwards on the 8th February, 2003 against Raul Marquez ending in a no contest when Mosley accidentally head-butted Marquez twice in round three, which caused two very bad cuts above the eyes of Marquez.
  • Mosley’s second fight on the 13th September, 2003 a rematch against Oscar De La Hoya with De La Hoya’s, The Ring, WBC, WBA and lineal light middleweight championships on the line. A fight Shane Mosley would win via a very controversial 12 round unanimous decision. Although most boxing fans, commentators and pundits alike were of the belief De La Hoya had easily defeated Mosley, especially as he landed over 100 more punches. The judges however all scored it 115-113 in favour of Mosley, making Shane Mosley a three divisional world champion. Yet a major cloud over the victory (even though it stood) would surface later when Shane Mosley testified before a grand jury that he had injected himself with the notorious doping agent EPO in preparation for the fight.
  • Shane Mosleys third fight after his losses and first defence of his newly won titles, took place on the 13th March, 2004 against IBF champion Ronald ‘Winky’ Wright (after rejecting a ‘mega money’ bout to face Felix Trinidad) also appeared to be a bad decision. For not only did Mosley not receive anywhere near th money he would have, for fighting Trinidad, but he also succumbed to the 5-2 underdog – Wright, by unanimous decision 117-111, 117-111, 116-112.
  • Shane Mosley’s fourth fight thereafter – an immediate rematch at the Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas with Wright, completing a poor period for him, with another loss on the scorecards by majority decision, 115-113, 115-113, 114-144. Mosley just as in the first fight struggling to get inside or cope with Wright’s southpaw fighting style. 

Something was clearly not right, with “Sugar” Shane Mosley far from the fluid speedster fellow fighters could not lay a glove on. The fact ‘Winky’ Wright landed 100 more punches than Mosley in both fights a rather damning indictment of just that. Something needed to change and Shane made the most difficult decision he had to date – in firing the only trainer he had ever known, his father Jack Mosley. More of which can be read about here.

The Comeback Trail.

The change of personnel would be temporary but have an immediate effect. Mosley winning his next two fights by wide unanimous decisions over both David Estrada and Jose Luis Cruz before in 2006 engaging in another brace of bouts against the hard hitting ‘Ferocious’ Fernando Vargas (26-2, 22 KOs).

Shane Mosley vs Fernando Vargas (I) 

The first fight took place on the 25th of February 2006, Shane Mosley winning the fight by TKO in the 10th round after Vargas’ eye became completely shut.

Shane Mosley vs Fernando Vargas (II)

The rematch took place on the 15th July 2006 with Shane Mosley again winning by TKO stoppage though this time earlier and to all intents and purposes by Knockout in the 6th round as can be seen:

What was apparent from both fights was that Shane Mosley had his most vital weapon back – his speed. Both of movement and that blistering hand speed. Single shot or combination punching, Shane Mosley would continually beat Vargas to the punch. Moreover, as the second fight illustrated, when he did land he also had his KO power back as well. In short Shane Mosley looked back to his best.

Return to Welterweight

Despite having advanced himself in to a position to challenge for the WBA light middleweight title, Mosley opted to return to Welterweight, easily defeating Luis Collazo on route to a highly anticipated fight with Miguel Cotto.

Shane Mosley vs Miguel Cotto

On the 10th of November, 2007 Shane Mosley would engage in an epic battle  for the ages, against a man who was also viewed in just about his prime – Miguel Cotto. Full highlights can be viewed here:

Although Miguel Cotto would ultimately win on the judges scorecards 115-113, 116-113, 115-113 many observers felt the fight could have been scored either way. Both fighters landed 248 punches but Cotto having the better connect rate due to throwing 101 fewer punches. Shane Mosley however showed dignity and professionalism in defeat, remarking “Good luck champ. You’re a real warrior” to Cotto, on his way out of the ring.

It was a defeat that would briefly lead Shane Mosley returning to light middleweight to fight and defeat Ricardo Mayorga for the vacant WBA Inter-Continental light middleweight title. Before thereafter engaging the services of Naazim Richardson and moving back up to welterweight at the age of 37 to put in a career defining performance in defeating Antonio Margarito. 

Shane Mosley vs Antonio Margarito

Coming into this fight Shane Mosley was given no chance. He was a 4-1 underdog, facing a much younger Antonio Margarito who had spectacularly stopped Miguel Cotto just six months earlier. A brutal massacre was predicted and indeed that is exactly what occurred – only it was Margarito who was (deservedly) pasted around the ring! 

Shane Mosley winning all nine rounds before it was brutally ended. For most this was poetic justice given Margarito had tried to enter the fight with ‘loaded’ gloves as was spotted at the time by Naazim Richardson and proven later. An incident which later saw Margarito banned from boxing for one year

Tragically the later report indicated Margarito had likely got away with doing this in other fights and in particularly against Miguel Cotto. So the following video which displays the hammering Shane Mosley gave him was music to the ears of boxing fans the world over.

Such a sensational performance and win for Sugar Shane Mosley did not do him any harm either, propelling him back up the echelons of the welterweight division and further cementing his legacy as one of the best fighters of his era. However at his age, and with the calibre of fighter Shane Mosley was now left to face it might have been better if the Margarito bout could have been his ‘swan song’.

Shane Mosley vs Floyd Mayweather Jr, 

On the 1st of May 2010, Shane Mosley fought a fight that boxing purists had been calling for, for 10 years. It was a fight some would argue Mayweather had let slide for 10 years – until he was sure he would win. Regardless, Shane Mosley would not disgrace himself but there was only ever one winner, which was reflected in the scorecards, 119–109, 119–109, 118–110.

Afterwards Shane Mosley would briefly return to light middleweight for a split decision draw with Sergio Mora which most people thought he had won comfortably. Mosley as gracious as ever and gentleman of the sport that he was, stated “We both fought hard. It was good fight, a good decision”. The result would nevertheless set him up to fight the other of the two ‘Kings of the era’.

Shane Mosley vs Manny Pacquiao. (Welterweight)

On the 7th May, 2011, Shane Mosley would once again lose a one sided unanimous decision 119–108, 120–108, and 120–107 to probably the second greatest fighter of the era. Again despite the wide margins on the score cards Shane Mosley would not disgrace himself in attempting to win the WBO welterweight title and arguably more impressively would not curb his natural instinct to fight the best. His next fight, no easier even though the opponent was barely known yet alone established.

Shane Mosley vs Saul ‘Canelo’ Alvarez. (Light Middleweight)

On ‘Cinco de Mayo’ 2012 Shane Mosley fought a 21 year old, highly regarded light middleweight champion called Saul “Canelo” Álvarez (39-0-1, 29 KOs) for the WBC light middleweight title at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. At the age of 40 Mosley was given away 19 years to Álvarez and thereby it was no disgrace or surprise that he would lose by similar margins 119–109, 119–109 and 118–110 to those he suffered at the hands of Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao the two other undisputed superstars of the period. 

This withstanding no one thereafter could dispute that ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley did not fight the best, when they were at their best (Regardless of his own age). However, even Shane Mosley had started to realise that whilst not disgracing himself it was becoming somewhat of a futile effort stating “When the kids start to beat you, you might need to start going to promoting.” and officially retiring after the bout.

Final Fights and Retirement

Sadly like so many others, Shane Mosleys first retirement would not be his last and whilst he would win three and lose two of his final comeback fights, Shane Mosley best days were behind him. His full and final boxing record of 61 fights, 49 wins, 41 inside the distance and 10 losses viewable here.

Shane Mosley Accolades

Shane Mosley may not have the long list of extensive achievements some fighters boast. But this is largely incidental. During his prime Shane Mosley was simply ‘purist perfection’, electrifying fight fans the world over with dazzling displays of speed and power. A gentleman of the sport perhaps the greatest accolade he was afforded during his twenty three year career was that he was considered ‘pound for pound’ the best in the world (see below) – in a timespan in which that was no mean feat!  

An addendum to this is Shane Mosley’s record still stands up there with the best as a holder of multiple world championships in three different weight classes, including:

  • The IBF lightweight title; the WBA (Super) and WBC welterweight titles.
  • The WBA (Super), WBC and The Ring light middleweight titles.
  • As well as the former lineal champion at welterweight (twice) and light middleweight.

Moreover, Shane Mosley was also named

Finally, Shane Mosley was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2020.

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