Similarly, Johnny Unitas is one of the best quarterbacks to have ever lived, but definitely not to those who only saw him play for the San Diego Chargers.
There have been countless boxers in similar situations and fans and media routinely plead with them to retire. Most recently, Roy Jones Jr. and Evander Holyfield have fallen in that situation, fighting on long since their skills have left them.
Shane Mosley, the one-time lightweight, welterweight and super welterweight champion who is one of the best fighters of the last 20 years or so, is another of them.defeated Pablo Cesar Cano by a unanimous decision on Saturday in Mexico, winning for the first time in more than four years.
The bout was not a farewell match, though. Mosley, now 41, tweeted on Monday that he not only has no plans to retire, he's going to pursue another world title opportunity.
The outrage among the fan base and the media was predictable, urging him to hang up his gloves.
As former world champion James Toney once said so perfectly, you play golf and you play baseball, but you don't play boxing.
Mosley would be smart to walk away. He still has his faculties, though some have expressed concern about the slurring in his speech. But he's passed the medical requirements to be able to fight. And if he does, then it's his right to fight.
It doesn't mean it's right. It doesn't mean it's smart. And it doesn't mean we have to watch. But if Mosley can meet the requirements to be licensed to fight, then it's up to him whether he does or not.
Guys who fight too long are, unquestionably, a tragedy waiting to happen. Many of those who continue to fight long past the time when their skills would suggest they should do so because they need money.
Mosley went through an expensive divorce a few years ago, but he tweeted to a fan that he still has "millions." He wrote that his ex-wife "didn't get it all still in the Millions and will be for a while not a fan of big spending"
If he's not fighting for money, perhaps it's glory. It's hard to walk away from the limelight after being the man everywhere you go for nearly 20 years. And it could be just the love of competition.
Whatever it is, Mosley is within his right to fight. Of course, as a person who has covered all of his big fights and greatly admired his skill set, I'd rather he say goodbye. There is little good of trying to compete at his age with his diminished skills.
If you're repulsed by it, don't watch. That tactic may ultimately be what gets him to step aside. If he's not selling tickets and he can't make money at it, he ultimately will walk away.
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