I've heard the name "Sugar" used increasingly in the fight world by people of late. The only Sugar WAS and IS "Sugar" Ray Robinson. Let's look at a few contenders to the throne.
First there was Ray Leonard. Next Shane Mosely. Finally MMA (Mixed Martial Artist) Rashad Evans.
Let's dispense of Evans immediately. I have no problem with MMA and I'm sure the sport will continue to grow in popularity. But Evans hasn't had enough fights to even be in this discussion. Evans began as a heavyweight and has since dropped to a light heavyweight. He has had a total of 17 fights in seven years. He seems to have the skills and drive to become a great fighter, but let's look in on him in a few years. Even after that I sincerely doubt he'll be in the original "Sugar's" range. However I do admit these fighters take at least as much abuse in the cage as "Sugar" did when he fought in the ring http://espn.go.com/mma/fighter/_/id/274/rashad-evans ©2010 ESPN Internet Ventures
Next of course we have the omnipresent Mosley. This young man will not go away. That, if nothing else about him, does remind me of the original "Sugar". Shane Mosley has also been a (light) middleweight and welterweight during his career like the "sugar" of old. However "Sugar" fought in an era when middleweight was just that with no distinctions.
Mosley has had 53 fights since he began his professional career in 1993. To his credit he has had 46 wins against only six defeats. He also had a no contest (NC) because of accidental head butts to former IBF light middleweight champion Rauel Marques. He was undefeated as a light weight champion. He has also been champion as a welterweight (super welterweight) and light middleweight. http://boxrec.com/list_bouts.php?human_id=4952&cat=boxer © BoxRec (Per site's disclaimer -Gen data may have inaccuracies). Http://boxing.about.com/od/records/a/mosley.htm ©2010 About.com, a part of The New York Times Company
It's a fact that he is very nice and his career is not over. However he is no Sugar. We can leave the steroid incident out of the conversation. Yes he admitted to the use of EPO when he fought and beat the "Golden boy" Oscar De La Hoya in 2003. He unified the light middleweight titles at that time. However he lost quality fights to Floyd Mayweather, Miguel Angel Cotto, Ronald (Winky) Wright twice and Vernon Forest twice. A quality win for him was against De La Hoya in 2000. That was the year of their first meeting.
The quality of his opponents, though not bad, and Mosley's own speed and strength work against him. If he had stayed a light weight maybe this assessment would be different. Not that he would be in "Sugar's" class but he would show better.
He has 39 knockouts but 32 coming during his light weight era . That would be roughly 1993 to 2000 and marked by his TKO of Willy Wise, a light welterweight. Proceeding that fight he faced De La Hoya for the first time. However, after the De La Hoya fight, he had 6 TKO and one KO, when he fought consistently at the heavier weight. Not a "Sugar" showing for sure.
Next there is Ray Leonard. He fought professionally from 1977 to 1991. A crafty and extremely quick welterweight. He dazzled the masses with his antics, showmanship and quick wit. He spoke eloquently and boldly. He had the skill and nerve to back up his words. Leonard fought 40 times with 25 KO. Of these 40 fights he lost 3 times with a draw. Ray Leonard won championships as WBC Welterweight Championship twice; WBA Champion; WBC Middleweight Champion; WBC Super Middleweight and WBC Light Heavyweight. Leonard defeated Donny LaLonde for light Heavy. LaLonde was not a quality opponent.
A Quality win, was against Roberto Duran. Two other quality wins were against Thomas "the Hitman" Hearns and "Marvelous" Marvin Hagler. I have issues with both wins. He put Hearns off for many years before he finally faced him. Hagler he did not beat physically but out thought him and ran in the ring. Putting my personal feelings aside. Leornard beat both men on the record. Additionally some other wins of note were against Wilfredo Benitez, Armando Muniz and Floyd Mayweather SR.
To give Leonard more standing he did fight in different weight classes and had quality showings in each. His movement from light weight for Duran to middleweight for Hagler is impressive. However the multiple weight divisions work against him. There are simply not enough fights in Ray Leonard's dossier or quality opponents for him to approach "Sugar". He was quick and strong but in quality fights, though he won, his mind not his body, was more a weapon than his skills in the ring. I do not fault the man for using his mind. It is not called the "sweet science" for nothing, but it does lower him on the scale when he never directly confronts in exchanges. I do, however,give him credit, for out thinking two great fighters like Haglar and Duran. I may not respect how he did it but I do respect the fact that he got it done. http://boxing.about.com/od/records/a/leonard.htm
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The multitude of divisions and and multiple sanctioning bodies also works against the almost "Sugars". There were only two sanctioning bodies during Robinson's time. They were World boxing Association (WBA) formerly the International Boxing Association (IBA). Next there was the World Boxing council (WBC), which was formed in 1963 near "Sugars" end. There are 17 weight divisions now, as opposed to the six to eight of Sugar's time. Also gloves were different. I'm aware they only give the hands better protection not someone's body. However a distinct help is a distinct help.
Sugar Ray Robinson fought from 1940 to 1965. He had193 fights of which he won 173. Of those 173, 108 were won by KO or TKO. He lost 19 and he was listed as KO once. He also had one draw. He was World Middleweight Champion six times. He was also an undefeated welterweight champion. His quality opponents are endless. To name a few there are Jake LaMotta, Randy Turpin, Rocky Graziano, Bobo Olsen, Gene Fullmer, (California) Jackie Wilson, Paul Pender, Joey Archer; Denny Moyer and Carmen Basilio. "Sugar" fought LaMotta six times beating him five out of the six while giving up a distinct advantage in weight to the "Bull".
I am not going to make this an "adoration piece". There is no need. All other pretenders to the crown had a piece of the world crown(s). They fought opponents but there weren't many quality opponents beaten. They didn't sustain their careers with enough opponents or fights to reach the original sugar. They also had the opportunity to win crowns from multiple sanctioning bodies, that could sanction less than quality opponents.
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