For all the great things he did in his boxing career, George Foreman dealt the sport a serious blow when he won the heavyweight championship at age 45 in 1994 by knocking out Michael Moorer.
Foreman's success helped create an entire class of fighters who felt that they, too, could fight and be successful after 40. Only Bernard Hopkins, who in 2011 broke Foreman's record as the oldest man to win a major world title when he defeated Jean Pascal at age 46, has had any kind of consistent success over 40 against top fighters.
The latest to give it a shot will be Shane Mosley, a one-time lightweight, welterweight and super welterweight champion who turned 40 in September. On May 5, Mosley will meet 21-year-old Saul "Canelo" Alvarez at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas for the World Boxing Council 154-pound title.
Mosley was horrendous in 2010 and 2011, getting routed by Floyd Mayweather Jr. and Manny Pacquiao and fighting to an uninspired draw with Sergio Mora in between.
Alvarez had just turned 7 when Mosley won his first world title Aug. 2, 1997. Now, Alvarez is 21 and a heavy favorite to retain his belt. Mosley said on a conference call last week he's fueled by those who doubt him.
"The haters are what keep me motivated," Mosley said. "Domination is on my mind. I want to be the best I can be and showcase my strengths."
Other than Foreman and Hopkins, though, few boxers in the last 20 years have had any significant, sustained success beyond 40. Former undisputed heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield, who at 49 is still not retired, has gone 6-5 post-40 and was beaten by the likes of Larry Donald and Sultan Ibragimov.
Larry Holmes, one of the four greatest heavyweights ever, was 21-3 after 40, but only had one significant win, a 1992 victory over Ray Mercer. Other than that, Holmes either beat a collection of third-rate fighters or lost.
In the pre-Foreman era, even the greatest fighter didn't have real success after 40. Sugar Ray Robinson fought 44 times after his 40th birthday and went 30-10-3 with one no-contest, but none of the wins could be counted as significant.
The odds are heavily against Mosley, who in his prime would have been a massive favorite to defeat Alvarez. Mosley's excuse for his poor recent performances was not his age but what he said were injuries that prevented him from preparing.
He insists, though, that he's healthy and will shock the critics. They all say that, but Mosley said the wisdom he's gained in 18 years as a pro, spanning 55 bouts, will serve him well.
"Basically, I'm able to change and I'm able to do things that I couldn't do in other camps," Mosley said. "I'm able to do a lot more. I can run more. I can move better. I can slip and slide. I can punch harder. I can just do more things."
The eye test tells a different story. Mosley at 25 was a beast. Mosley at 40 looks like an old guy hanging around for one more payday.
Hopefully, he'll prove the doubters wrong, but boxing is a serious endeavor. As ex-world champion James Toney often says, you play golf, but you don't play boxing. Hopefully, if Mosley turns in an effort similar to what he did in the previous two years, he'll grasp that and start the countdown for his induction into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
• The fight to make for super lightweight Brandon Rios is against Mike Alvarado, a match on paper which figures to be entertaining along the lines of the Erik Morales-Marco Antonio Barrera or the Arturo Gatti-Micky Ward trilogies. But because Rios manager Cameron Dunkin doesn't like the fight, it's likely not going to happen.
• Whoever in power at HBO thought it a good idea to turn down the Alvarado-Mauricio Herrera fight that Top Rank then put on its Saturday pay-per-view card ought to lose said power. Everyone in the know said the Alvarado-Herrera fight would steal the show and it did. It became a Fight of the Year candidate, and also probably created a lot of red faces around the HBO offices.
• Nonito Donaire is a brilliant fighter and deserves his spot high on pound-for-pound lists. That said, Donaire can't live on his 2011 knockout of Fernando Montiel forever. He needs to face Abner Mares, who meets Eric Morel on Saturday in a Showtime-televised bout from El Paso, Texas, before the end of the year or it's going to appear he's ducking the top competition.
• No one will confirm it – Golden Boy CEO Richard Schaefer issued an emphatic no comment – but it appears GBP is moving closer toward a deal for a series of fights on CBS. It could begin as soon as the fall, sources say.
• Tim Dahlberg's column about former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson's one-man show is a must read. Tyson did a lot of unseemly things in his life, but it's hard not to root for him to enjoy a happy retirement.
Judges are influenced
I agree with your blog about the Brandon Rios vs. Richard Abril fight not being fixed but just simply bad judging or human error. That being said, I do believe judges are sometimes influenced by the prospect of a better and bigger event down the line. For example, both Rios and Juan Manuel Marquez were on "stay busy" types of fights with a potential big match-up between them in the offing a few months down the line. I think the judges are influenced by that sometimes. Marquez-Rios is a big-money fight for everybody involved, with both being backed by a huge promoter. Abril could King Kong on Staples and nobody would care, because he has no major promoter. In other words, I think they could be influenced by the business that a popular fighter like Rios would bring in the future.
Diego, you make a lot of great points and I agree with them. Often, judges are influenced by the so-called house fighter. The fans are there to see him fight. The prefight attention was all tilted toward him and the judges, being only human, are influenced by that. I had Abril winning, so I'm with everyone who is angry that Rios got the win. My objection is to those who immediately insist there is a fix whenever they don't agree with a call. It's worse when a promoter does it, unless he has evidence, because such allegations harm the sport. This ridiculous, juvenile feud between Top Rank and Golden Boy is what is causing so many of these problems, including Golden Boy President Oscar De La Hoya's jabs on Twitter at Top Rank and its founder, Bob Arum. Solve that problem and it solves a major issue in the sport.
Rios' failure to make weight is overlooked
I like Brandon Rios as a fighter, but he's getting a pass from the sports writers who are apparently not man enough to challenge him about missing weight. Losing your title at the scale, as Rios did against John Murray in December, is bad enough. But to then come back to that weight and then miss weight again, that's wrong. Why isn't he being ripped like Jose Luis Castillo and Joan Guzman were when they missed?
North Las Vegas, Nev.
I think Rios got a pass for missing Friday because Top Rank really insisted he try to fight at 135. After Yuriorkis Gamboa pulled out, Top Rank was looking to salvage the show and brought in Abril, a far lesser name, as a replacement. One of the selling points it used was that Rios was going after the title he'd lost in December. Clearly, Rios is no lightweight and it would be criminal if anyone makes him fight at 135. But if Rios misses weight at 140, I think he'll be justifiably buried by an angry media. He deserves somewhat of a pass because his promoter put so much pressure on him to do it.
Boycott a greedy 'Money May'
Floyd Mayweather is definitely a good fighter, but I think he has become greedy. He is a great winner with a perfect record and is a money-making fighting machine. He sells himself well by being cocky and talking smack, playing the villain. Now, I'm sure a lot of Mexicans feel cheated when he gave that cheap shot to Victor Ortiz and knocked him out in September. Sure, he deserves a good chunk of revenue from his fights. And people are willing to watch his fights. So I have an idea to keep him grounded. It's to encourage people not to watch his upcoming fight with Miguel Cotto so he doesn't get as much income from it. Oops, sorry Cotto. He didn't really want to give Manny Pacquiao a fair share, so the deal for them to fight fell through. It's best for him to gain less in revenue this time around so he learns to be fair in giving his opponent a respectable piece of the pie. The Pacquiao fight is what people want to see, and if one of them feels he deserves way more money than the other, it forms a barrier to making the fight.
Albert, I can't get behind a boycott of Mayweather-Cotto. It's one of the last true challenges for Mayweather. If Cotto felt terms weren't fair, he wouldn't have signed. I'm still optimistic that terms for a Mayweather-Pacquiao fight can be worked out for November while Mayweather is serving a jail sentence in the summer.
"I'm going to name like five [men I'd like to fight at super bantamweight] and all of them would be great fights. From bottom to top, [they are] Victor Terrazas, Fernando Montiel, Rafael Marquez, Wilfredo Vazquez Jr., Jorge Arce, and the big name that is up there is, no doubt, Nonito Donaire. If all those fights can be made, I'm more than willing to take those fights." – Abner Mares, on who he'd like to fight if he defeats Eric Morel in Saturday's bout on Showtime for the WBC super bantamweight title.
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