3 Sugars of Boxing: Robinson, Leonard, and Mosley

Sugar Ray Robinson, Sugar Ray Leonard and Sugar Shane Mosley. A brief look at boxing’s finest in the category of pugilistic prestige and poise.

(1) Ray Robinson
May 3, 1921 – April 12, 1989

Regarded by many as the top fighter of all time pound 4 pound, Robinson was originally born as Walker Smith JR. of Ailey, GA. He turned professional at tender age of 19 years old with an undefeated amateur record. On October 4, 1940, a 2nd round TKO victory over Joe Echevarria ensured boxing fans that Ray Robinson would be
something special.

In 1947, Robinson faced a situation that would possibly end his pride and passion after killing Jimmy Doyle on the night of June 6. By then, Robinson had already racked an extraordinary 78 victories with only 1 defeat and rematch victory over
Jake LaMotta. “Sugar Ray” known, for his flashy profile, pressed hair and extravagant lifestyle was noted as never being the same after that fight. But victories over fighters such as LaMotta, Turpin, Basillo, Gavilan, Armstrong etc.. would make it difficult to determine whether this notion was true.

It was 1952, Robinson had given up the life inside of the gloves and pursed a career in acting and dancing. His million-dollar smile and handsome looks were more of the attraction than perhaps his tap dancing toes, acting and piano play. By 1953 and 1954, bills continually piled and the IRS began looking for the former pugilistic artist. He decided that it would be better to lace up for boxing glory once more to keep creditors and IRS from sending him to jail. Back in action by January of 1955 but without the same “cheddar” he left with, Robinson resumed his career with almost more than half of his paydays garnished by the IRS.

By 1960, it was apparent that Sugar Ray Robinson was unable to find his previous spectular attributes which made him great. The knockout power in both hands, the fast reflexes, hand speed and ring science were diminished. By this time, he was only fighting for money to keep pressuring creditors and the IRS at jab’s distance.

Naturally gifted with the gems of lighting quick hands and feet, Ray Robinson compiled an impressive record of 173 victories, 108 KO’s 19 losses and 6 draws in a 25-year career span. He captured championships at welterweight and middleweight and was noted in ring magazine from 1940-1950 as ‘fighter of the decade.’ Muhammad Ali referred to him as, “The king, the master, my idol!”

Career Bio:

World Welterweight Title.
World Middleweight Title.

Notable fights:

Jake LaMotta (6x)
Carmen Basillo (2x)
Randy Turpin (2x)
Joey Maxim
Fritzie Zivic (2x)
Marty Servo
Henry Armstrong
George Costner
Kid Gavilan (2x)
Rocky Graziano
Carl ‘Bobo’ Olson
Gene Fullmer

(2) Ray Leonard (Inactive)
May 17, 1956 –

In the falling of a legend, the great but veteran Muhammad Ali, it was best to consider this young superstar of Washington, D.C. the heir to the throne. No, Ray Leonard didn’t exactly have the heavyweight punch of Ali, but he had the charismatic charm and bliss that his idol sure carried. The speed and precision of Leonard was measured of another great fellow champion just 25 to 30 years prior in ‘Sugar’ Ray Robinson. The gold metal sensation of the 1976 Olympic team, Ray Charles Leonard, made his professional debut on February 5, 1977. In an impressive and blazing fashion, Ray Leonard would go on to highlight a remarkable 27 straight victory run before facing the likes of his new rival in Roberto Duran.

The Panama City native would give Leonard the benefit of handing him his first defeat and also his most embarrassing loss in the dramatic “No mas,” contest. A year later in 1981, Leonard participated in one of the highest grossing welterweight fights in boxing history when he took on Thomas Hearns. Hearns, out of the Motor city in Detroit, Michigan, gave Ray Leonard all that he could handle inside of 14 grueling rounds, before finally being stopped by referee Davey Pearl.

On the evening of April 6th, 1987 Ray Leonard played ‘catch me if you can’ with an angry and frustrated ‘Marvelous’ Marvin Hagler. A controversial victory would give Ray Leonard the middleweight championship and Marvin Hagler a decision to ride off into the sunset. Leonard would again meet Hearns in Duran by the end of 1989 before his boxing career begin to take it’s downfall. 2 consecutive defeats to both Terry Norris and Hector Camacho would end the reign of this spectular and charismatic athlete.

Leonard compiled a record of 36 victories, 3 defeats, 1 draw and a hall of fame plateau that any prizefighter of any generation before or after could dream of. Not to mention his style and swagger would be mocked throughout the future generation of fighters after his era.

Career Bio:

*1976 gold medal winner.*

Welterweight Championship.
Middleweight Championship.

Notable fights:

Roberto Duran (2x)
Thomas Hearns (2x)
Marvin Hagler
Hector Camacho
Terry Norris

(3) Shane Mosley (Active)
September 7, 1971 –

After failing to qualify for the 1992 Olympic trials, ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley made his professional debut on February 11, 1993. Eye-twitching hand speed, and a similar knockout punch of one Roberto Duran would place Shane as one of the most dominant lightweight fighters of boxing history. Mosley took the lightweight division by storm, capturing the lightweight crown in 1997 with a destructive victory against Philip Holiday.

8 straight successful title defenses, all won by KO before the 12th round gave Mosley the confidence of leaving the 135lb division which made his name famous. He entered the battlefield in a quest of supremacy at welterweight just 12lbs north. On June 17, 2000, ‘Sugar’ Shane Mosley captured the 147lb title with a brilliant performance against Oscar De La Hoya.

After 3 successful title defenses once again won by KO, Shane Mosley decided to give his 1992 Olympic trial rival, Vernon Forrest, a rematch he’ll never forget. Mosley’s wishes weren’t to be as he once again failed to figure the game plan of Forrest in his two 12 round losses. After dusting off his welterweight pride he made his debut into the 154lb junior middleweight division. It was there in which once again Mosley defeated Oscar De La Hoya for the 154lb title in a controversial 12 round victory. At 39 victories and 2 defeats, Mosley was once again on top of the mountain.

2004 proved to be a tough year. Mosley miscalculated the style and brilliance of Winky Wright in back to back losses. However, in the 2nd fight, Mosley proved that he was no force to be reckon with; giving Wright a dogfight for 12 action packed rounds that left many wondering if Shane at least deserved a draw. Briefly discouraged by 4 losses in less than 5 years, the following 2005 year Mosley decided to move back down to 147lbs. It would only be for a brief period as Mosley decided that a lucrative payday with Fernando Vargas at 154lbs would make for an interesting fight.

Now with 13 years of professional integrity under his wings, Shane Mosley is considered by many to be on his last limb of limelight glory. At age 34, and with 4 defeats, two of each by Forrest and Wright, Mosley must continue to win and win big.

Career Bio:

*Competed in 1992 Olympic trials.*

Lightweight title (135)
Welterweight title (147)
Junior Middleweight title (154)

Notable fights:

Philip Holiday
Jesse James Leija
Oscar De La Hoya (2x)
Vernon Forrest (2x)
Winky Wright (2x)
Fernando Vargas

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