Sugar Ray Walks Away: Why Retirement Is Just Something Boxers Do Between Fights

- Advertisement -

On this day in 1991, the great ‘Sugar’ Ray Leonard had what appeared to be his last fight. He retired after losing to Terry Norris, perhaps sensing the powers that had made him once the pound-for-pound king had irrevocably faded. The boxing populace agreed with his decision and sent him into his dotage with best wishes. But as is so often the case in boxing, Leonard didn’t know when to walk away. He would return in 1997 with disastrous results. 

The Sportsman’s looks back at Leonard’s inability to say no to the sport he loves, along with some other legendary ring icons who couldn’t keep away.

George Foreman

The most successful reversed retirement in boxing history, ‘Big” George’s return to the ring after a decade away is responsible for thousands of pensionable sluggers trying to recapture their glory years. Foreman retired in 1977 after a unanimous decision loss to Jimmy Young. He returned almost ten years later to the day, at the age of 38, with a fourth-round TKO over journeyman Steve Zouski. 

In the interim, Foreman had found God and worked as a preacher. The initial reasoning behind his comeback was to raise money for the youth centre he had founded. But as he racked up knockouts over a series of weathered veterans, his desires became more lofty. After taking out former cruiserweight king Dwight Muhammad Qawi and contenders Gerry Cooney and Bert Cooper, Foreman set his sights on the heavyweight crown.

His first two attempts were unsuccessful, as he dropped decisions to Evander Holyfield for the WBC, IBF and WBA straps and Tommy Morrison for the WBO belt. But at the age of 45, it would be third time lucky for Foreman as he came from behind to knock out Michael Moorer in 1994. Foreman lifted the WBA and IBF titles, becoming the oldest boxer ever to win the heavyweight championship, a record that still stands to this day.

Floyd Mayweather

‘Money’ Mayweather’s influence stretches far and wide in the world of combat sport. The Paul brothers, Adrien Broner, Conor McGregor and Devin Haney all borrow parts of their persona from ‘Pretty Boy’ Floyd. But perhaps his most enduring legacy in boxing will be that of the spurious retirement.

Floyd first threatened to turn his back on the sport in 2006, in a tearful interview after outpointing Carlos Baldomir for the WBC welterweight title. Mayweather would try again two fights later, after knocking out Ricky Hatton. This one lasted 15 months, when Mayweather returned to outclass Juan Manuel Marquez.

After winning a career-defining showdown with Manny Pacquiao, and a title defence over Andre Berto, Floyd closed the door on boxing. UFC star McGregor came knocking on that door for a cross-codes clash, and Mayweather obliged in 2017 before retiring once again. 

To be fair to Floyd, this final retirement appears to have stuck, at least in an official sense. While Mayweather has not had a sanctioned bout since 2017, he has fought influencer Logan…

Read More: Sugar Ray Walks Away: Why Retirement Is Just Something Boxers Do Between Fights 2024-02-09 15:46:35

0 0 votes
Article Rating
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments