By Ken Hissner: There are two kinds of ways that some boxers have left the sport while still world champions. One is retiring, and the other is due to death while still holding the title.
Floyd “Money” Mayweather, Jr. retired in August 2017 with a 50-0 record and a five-division world champion. Rumors still at the age of 44 still hint he may come back for “one more” fight!
This writer remembers how IBF and WBA Light Welterweight champion Aaron “The Hawk” Pryor retired for two years and five months with a 36-0 record at age 35 before coming back. He lost what would be his only career fight to Bobby Joe Young and then went on to win his last three fights.
As previously mentioned, I always wondered if Mayweather would come back for “one more payday!” After all passing Rocky Marciano’s 49-0 record for some reason, “Money” chose to end his career against an MMA/UFC champion who never had an amateur or professional fight in Conor “Notorious” McGregor. It should have been considered an exhibition which he did have one after that fight. He was inducted into the IBHOF.
Heavyweight champion Rocky ”The Brockton Blockbuster” Marciano retired at age 32 with a 49-0 record, as previously mentioned with 43 stoppages. He went back into training when Swedish boxer Ingemar “Ingo” Johansson knocked out American Floyd Patterson for the heavyweight title Marciano was hoping to bring the title back to America. He found out in training he just didn’t have the same skills he had when retiring, so he decided not to fight again. He was inducted into the IBHOF.
Another heavyweight champion retired with the title was Gene “The Fighting Marine” Tunney, 65-1-1, at age 31 retired. He had a successful life in business and real estate that kept him busy enough not considering returning to the ring. He was inducted into the IBHOF in 1990.
On the other hand, heavyweight champion James “The Boilermaker” J. Jeffries retired at age 28 with a 19-0-2 record only to return to the ring after almost six years tasting defeat at the hands of champion Jack “The Galveston Giant” Johnson. He was inducted into the IBHOF.
These are a handful list of champions who were unbeaten when they retired. Now the other way a fighter can leave boxing with the title is by death. Let’s take a look at three of them.
One of them was Stanley “The Michigan Assassin” Ketchel, 49-5-3, with 46 stoppages, who held the middleweight title in 1909. After his last defense, he went 3-2-1 in non-title defenses, including a failed attempt to win the heavyweight title. Less than a year after his last defense, he was shot to death at age 24. He was inducted into the IBHOF in 1990.
WBC World Featherweight champion Salvador “Chava” Sanchez, 44-1-1, with 32 stoppages had a bright future ahead of him. He made ten defenses in two and a half years. Only the majority decision win over Patrick Ford and the split decision win over Pat Crowdell was close to losing his title.
In August of 1982, Sanchez was killed in an automobile accident at the age of 23. He was scheduled to fight Juan Laporte the following month at Madison Square Garden. He was inducted into the IBHOF in 1991.
WBC World Lightweight and former WBA Super Featherweight champion Edwin ”El Inca Dinamita” Valero, 27-0 with 27 stoppages, had a flawless record. From Merida, Venezuela, at the age of 28, he was found hanging in his prison cell. He was accused of killing his wife.
Now he most likely would never be able to fight again but his death made it final!
I’m sure there are others I haven’t included, but all of the previously mentioned were well known to fight fans around the world.