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‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley Said He Had to Retire From Boxing Because of Botched Surgery

‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley was 45 years old, but he still had some fight in him. The former world champion boxer still had a few more bouts lined up. He knew he could still box into his late 40s, but then ‘fate’ stepped in. Fate came in the form of arthroscopic surgery on his elbow that went wrong and ultimately wound up ending his career. 

Shane Mosley’s early boxing career

Shane Mosley began his professional boxing career in 1993, making his debut against Greg Puente in a scheduled six-round fight. He knocked out Puente in the fifth round and began a streak of 38 consecutive victories. Of his first 29 victories, 26 of them came via knockout.

On Jan. 26, 2002, Mosley entered the ring with Vernon Forrest having won 38 straight bouts. Forrest was no slouch either, coming in with a record of 33-0 with 26 knockouts. On the line was the WBC welterweight title at Madison Square Garden. Mosley was knocked down twice in the second round and suffered a cut to his head after the boxers bumped heads. Forrest handed Mosley his first loss via unanimous decision.

The two immediately met again in July in front of a packed house at Conseco Fieldhouse in Indianapolis. The fight was much closer than the first one, but Forrest again escaped with another unanimous decision. Mosley took the loss in stride. “Things like that happen,” said Mosley, who earned $2.58 million. “You have your day in the sunshine. Evander Holyfield lost, Sugar Ray Leonard lost and now I’ve lost twice.”

Mosley beats De la Hoya twice

Shane Mosley met Oscar De la Hoya for the first time on June 17, 2000, for the WBC, IBA & vacant lineal welterweight titles. The two matched each other blow for blow before Mosley was awarded a split-decision victory. The win was Mosley’s 35th straight to begin his career.

The two met again on September 13, 2003, with De la Hoya’s WBC, WBA, and lineal light middleweight titles on the line. Mosley had just suffered consecutive losses to Vernon Forrest. Mosley defeated De la Hoya in a controversial unanimous decision and became a champion in three divisions.

After the De la Hoya rematch, Mosley went on to lose back-to-back bouts with Ronald Wright. He also lost to Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao in a pair of high-profile fights. Mosley finished his career with a record of 49-10 with one draw and one no contest. He won 41 of his fights by knockout.

Shane Mosley’s retirement

In 2017, Shane Mosley retired from boxing. On Aug. 15, 2017, Mosley told ESPN that his body was breaking down and it was time to call it quits. “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.”

The following day, ESPN ran another story and Mosley got a little more specific about the decision to retire. He said the decision was made after he went in for some simple surgery and came out a mess. “Fate, if you will, stepped in and took those options away from me earlier this year,” he told ESPN.

“I went in for a minor arthroscopic surgery to remove a couple loose bone fragments from my elbow and the surgery turned into a whole ordeal after the surgeon admittedly ‘accidentally’ burned me on my forearm, leading to a sick infection and needing like four or five days of IV antibiotics and two weeks of antibiotics at home. It was crazy and surreal to learn that I could never fight again. My right arm is ruined. They were supposed to make two 2-centimeter incisions in my elbow in a one-hour surgery, and I ended up in there over four hours and came out butchered.”