"Sugar" Shane Mosley, who won world titles in three weight classes and for a time was widely considered the No. 1 pound-for-pound fighter in the world, told ESPN on Tuesday that he is retiring from boxing.
Mosley, an electrifying fighter in his prime whose biggest victory came against Oscar De La Hoya for the welterweight title in 2000, is the latest high-profile boxer to announce his retirement in recent weeks. He follows Wladimir Klitschko, Juan Manuel Marquez, Timothy Bradley Jr. and Robert Guerrero. Floyd Mayweather said he plans to return to retirement following his boxing match with UFC star Conor McGregor on Aug. 26, and Miguel Cotto has also said he will hang up the gloves at the end of the year.
"I decided that I'm older now. I'm not the same as I used to be, so I need to let it go as far as me trying to compete as a fighter anymore," Mosley told ESPN. "I'm definitely always going to be around boxing. I'll still go to the gym and show people stuff, help them out. I still love boxing. It's still my life but just not as a fighter anymore."
Mosley, 45, of Pomona, California, has not fought since losing a competitive decision to David Avanesyan challenging for an interim welterweight title on May 28, 2016. He had planned to fight this year in Russia, but the bout was called off because Mosley had surgery a few months ago to shave down a bothersome bone spur and to remove fragments from his right elbow.
He said that was a sign that it was time to move on from the ring.
"What happened was my arm is breaking down, my knees, shoulders," he said. "My back is starting to break down. My body is telling me I'm older and I can't do it at 100 percent. I can't see myself fighting again. I'd have to say I'm retired."
Mosley was a star amateur, just missing a berth on the 1992 U.S. Olympic team when he lost a critical bout in an upset to the late Vernon Forrest. Mosley (49-10-1, 41 KOs) turned pro in 1993 and dazzled on the Southern California scene but could not get a title fight. After he signed with late promoter Cedric Kushner, when Mosley was 23-0 with 22 knockouts, he was installed as the mandatory challenger for lightweight titleholder Philip Holiday. They met in 1997, and despite being under the weather going into the fight, Mosley won a unanimous decision and the first of his five world titles at lightweight, welterweight and junior middleweight.
"I always wanted to be a world champion and I accomplished my goal when I beat Holiday," Mosley said. "Beating him and winning the world title was like, 'I have arrived.'"
Considered one of the best lightweights in boxing history, Mosley defended his 135-pound crown eight times, winning each title defense by knockout. He made five defenses in 1998 and was named fighter of the year by the Boxing Writers Association of America while his father and longtime trainer, Jack Mosley, collected the trainer of the year award.
Mosley, who had become a staple on HBO, vacated the belt, took two nontitle fights at welterweight and then squared off with then-welterweight world champion De La Hoya in the defining fight of Mosley's career.
Longtime amateur rivals from Southern California, they met in the first main event at Staples Center in Los Angeles. There was a star-studded crowd on hand for what was a sensational action fight. Mosley won by split decision to claim the title and stake his claim as the pound-for-pound king.
"It was such a big event," Mosley said. "I am so grateful Oscar gave me that opportunity to showcase my skills on a worldwide level so people could see who 'Sugar' Shane was. When I fought Oscar it really put me on the world stage and I kept on winning and knocking people out."
Mosley made three dominant title defenses, knocking out contenders Antonio Diaz, Shannan Taylor and Adrian Stone, before meeting old amateur rival and undefeated Forrest in 2002. In a shocking scene at the Theater at Madison Square Garden in New York, Forrest knocked Mosley down twice and won an upset decision to claim the title.
Six months later they met again in a rematch, and Forrest again won a decision. But two fights later Mosley challenged then-unified junior middleweight champion De La Hoya in a rematch and won another decision, though this one was controversial, as many thought De La Hoya deserved the decision. Adding to the controversy was the disclosure by Mosley to a grand jury during the BALCO scandal that he had used performance-enhancing drugs given to him by Victor Conte during his training for the bout. Mosley has always maintained that he did not knowingly use any banned substances and that he had been convinced by strength coach Darryl Hudson to visit Conte.
"It was a learning experience. I didn't go into the fight thinking that it was anything illegal or anything I should be worried about," Mosley said. "I learned a lesson. I was misled by a workout guy [Hudson]."
After the second De La Hoya fight, Mosley, who knew what it had been like to be denied a major fight, opted to give long-avoided titleholder Winky Wright the big fight he craved. They met for the undisputed 154-pound title in 2004, and Wright won a decision. He beat Mosley again on points in the immediate rematch, but Mosley never regretted giving Wright the fight rather than going for a third fight with De La Hoya that had been offered.
"I believe I was an old-school fighter and I believed in fighting everybody," he said. "Winky Wright always thanks me for letting him be noticed by fighting him. It's just like I thank Oscar. You have to have fighters willing to fight anybody. I was one of those fighters. So were Winky and Oscar."
Mosley would move between junior middleweight and welterweight for the rest of his career, notching two knockout wins of Fernando Vargas in 2006, but also losing a highly competitive decision to then-welterweight titlist Miguel Cotto in 2007.
In 2009, Mosley was a huge underdog when he got a shot at welterweight titleholder Antonio Margarito. Mosley laid a beating on Margarito, stopping him in the ninth round of a one-sided fight that saw Margarito caught in the dressing room trying to enter the ring with illegally loaded hand wraps.
That was Mosley's last big win.
Decision losses to Mayweather, Manny Pacquiao in a welterweight title fight and a young junior middleweight titleholder named Canelo Alvarez followed.
"I worked hard and I wanted to be a world champion and to make people happy when they saw me fight and I think I did that," Mosley said. "People being happy and enjoying my fights and seeing that I put 100 percent into it was important to me and people have always shown me appreciation for it."