It's funny how you always hear about boxers being punch drunk in their old age and end up getting some type of brain damage. You would think that would be a common cause of death for some of them, but that hasn't seemed to be the case lately.
Former two-division champion Vernon Forrest was shot to death Saturday in downtown Atlanta in what police are calling an apparent robbery. He was 38-years-old.
This now makes the second boxer who has died in less than three weeks. First, there was Arturo Gatti and now Forrest. Neither one of them had even reached age 40. Neither one of them died from anything even remotely associated with the injuries they received from the years of boxing.
I was trying to think of why Forrest's name sounded familiar to me and then it hit me. He was the cat that beat Sugar Shane Mosley not once but TWICE. That may not mean a lot to non-boxing fans so let me put it in more perspective for you...Mosley had come fresh off beating Oscar De La Hoya and was considered to be the pound-for-pound best fighter in the world because of it. When the fight with Forrest came up, Mosley was heavily favored as Forrest was a virtual unknown.
Forrest went into the fight determined to prove himself and ended up beating Mosley in a split decision. Naturally, you know that meant a rematch in the boxing world. All Forrest did was have an even more impressive performance the second time around and scored a unanimous decision. I remember watching that fight on HBO and you could visibly see how frustrated Mosley was. No matter what he did, he just couldn't get Forrest figured out and Forrest dominated the poor guy.
Those two fights were easily the high points of Forrest's career. He ended up losing to WBA welterweight champion Ricardo Mayorga the following year by knockout in the third round. Shortly after, he had to take two years off because of injuries and had to start making a comeback. He ultimately ended up with an impressive professional record of 41-3 with 29 knockouts.
It's too bad that both Gatti and Forrest were taken away violently at such a young age when they had lasted thru one of the most brutal careers out there. At least they gave us some very memorable ring moments while they were here.
Rest in peace, Vernon.