By Jonah Sharf
The nickname “Sugar” is one of the most common in boxing, but most significantly two of the consensus greatest fighters of all time, Sugar Ray Robinson and Sugar Ray Leonard, share it with Shane Mosley. It is common in boxing because the sport is known as “the sweet science,” and perhaps Mosley was given the name because he started boxing around the same time Leonard was champion.
Before he took on the nickname “Sugar”, the future four-time world champion was just Shane Mosley—but not for long. Mosley’s father introduced him to boxing at a young age, but it was Mosley that decided to pursue it.
“I loved to compete one-on-one, as a young kid playing on the school grounds…I was always better, I was always the guy to pick to win a game,” Mosley said. “I felt that in boxing, it’s one-on-one and the kids are my size too? There’s no way they’re going to beat me.”
Soon after he started fighting at just eight years old, he joined the long line of boxers called Sugar.
“I fought Oscar [De La Hoya] when I was 12 or 13 years old, and they announced me as Sugar Shane Mosley, even back when I was 10 years old,” Mosley said. “It was Sugar Shane Mosley from the beginning.”
In addition to the nickname, Mosley was a huge fan of Sugar Ray Leonard, a given for a young boxer growing up when he was at the forefront of the boxing world. While he initially idolized Leonard and wanted to be successful like him, when his father introduced him to Sugar Ray Robinson, he was instantly hooked on his fights as well.
In fact, Mosley became so enthralled by Sugar Ray Robinson and his excellence that despite knowing and studying Sugar Ray Leonard first, many people throughout his career said Mosley fought more like Robinson than Leonard.
This is shown by the ratio of his knockouts to wins—41 of his 49 wins were by knockout—Mosley and Robinson were more boxer punchers, boxers who possessed impressive power and hand speed and weren’t always the best defenders, but were still capable on defense. Leonard, on the other hand, was more of an out-boxer, someone who won bouts more on decision and wearing an opponent out with speed and longer range punches.
Mosley took great confidence into all of his fights throughout his boxing career, and his faith in himself was well-deserved—he started off with a 38-0 record until he finally showed he was mortal against Vernon Forrest, losing to him two times in a row.
Despite finally losing, Mosley still proved to be the fighter he always was during the later stages of his career, beating De La Hoya in their second matchup, knocking out Antonio Margarito, and nearly becoming the only fighter to beat Floyd Mayweather, Jr by staggering him early in their fight.
Mosley showed incredible longevity as a professional boxer, as he was at or near the top of the boxing game his entire career, even to his last fights in his mid-40s. Sugar Shane Mosley did whatever it took to be the best he could be, just like the other Sugars before him.
“If you’re going to be the best, if you’re going to be great, if you’re going to win, you have to suffer a little bit. You have to challenge your body and challenge your mind to the peak.”