CAROLINA CRISIS: THIS IS BIGGER THAN YOU By Michael...
Gone Way Too Soon
NEW YORK (BASN) — He was a stellar amateur fighter. He represented the United States at the 1992 Barcelona Olympics in Spain. He was a world champion in two separate weight divisions.
But most importantly, Vernon Forrest was a wonderful man with a genuine soul. Forrest was killed on Saturday in Atlanta following a robbery attempt at a local gas station. He was 38 years old.
On a personal note: I’ve covered many of Vernon Forrest’s fights. On January 26, 2002, I had the opportunity to sit at ringside at the Theater of Madison Square Garden for perhaps the biggest victory of Forrest’s career.
Forrest became a star when he easily outboxed “Sugar Shane” Mosley through 12 rounds in what was arguably the best performance of Forrest’s career.
He beat a prime and ripped Shane Mosley to win the WBC welterweight championship and would repeat his dominance of Mosley in a rematch six months later.
I would speak to Vernon on a number of occasions at random through the years. He was always in a positive frame of mind and never had anything bad to say about anyone.
In fact, the thing about Forrest that I’ll remember most was his smile. He had a smile that would captivate the world and he wasn’t afraid or ashamed to use it suchlike his boxing skills.
Forrest was also a man of style, substance, intelligence, and great skills. Forrest was also a man of confidence – a student of boxing.
He knew the history of the sport very well and could strategize very well.
Forrest believed in himself and trusted that his hands were just as good as the next man’s.
I often said that Forrest was ducked by fighters like Oscar De La Hoya, Felix Trinidad, and Pernell Whitaker because, Forrest knew how to use his height, speed, and range really well.
Forrest also had an excellent left jab and was a very consistent fighter that would have taken advantage of the mistakes De La Hoya, Trinidad, and Whitaker made. Forrest was too tough an opponent to be taken lightly or have an off-night against because he could make you suffer and best you miserably.
Forrest won his first world title eight years into his professional career on May 12, 2001 at Madison Square Garden in New York.
Forrest won a unanimous decision against Raul Frank for the then vacant IBF welterweight championship.
Forrest did have a number of setbacks in his career.
Following two of the biggest wins of his career against Mosley, Forrest lost two consecutive bouts of Ricardo Mayorga – a knockout and a decision – in 2003.
Forrest also had a number of injuries that required repairs on his shoulders and elbows that kept him out of the ring for two years (2003-2005).
Forrest returned at age 34 min July 2005 as a junior middleweight. It wasn’t until his 10-round decision win against Ike Quartey in 2006 that led everyone to believe that Forrest was back.
He would conclude his career winning two WBC junior middleweight titles. Forrest returned to old form during a decisive 12-round decision against Juan Carlos Baldomir to become a world champion again.
He starched Michelle Piccirillo (TKO 11) before losing his title on a majority decision to Sergio Mora in June 2008. Forrest would beat Mora in an immediate rematch three months later to regain his title and that somehow became the final professional contest of Forrest’s career.
Forrest, recently stripped of the WBC 154-pound belt due to inactivity, was scheduled to compete on Saturday’s WBO lightweight title clash between Timothy Bradley and Nate Campbell.
Forrest’s career ends with a professional mark of 41-3, 29 KOs.
Once again, Vernon Forrest was a good man and I am truly, truly going to miss his smile.
Vernon Forrest Remembered
The boxing community has been stunned by the passing of Vernon Forrest including Sergio Martinez, the WBC jr. middleweight champion who preceded him as champion.
Martinez said in a statement: “Vernon Forrest was a great fighter. I always dreamed of fighting Vernon, because it has always been my goal to prove myself against the very best. This tragic news puts both my life and boxing career in perspective.”
“Vernon and I both shared a love for children, and helping those who had become disadvantaged. This is why I did not just look up to him as a boxer, but as a human being. My thoughts are prayers are with his family, and I promise to dedicate my next fight to the memory of Vernon Forrest.”
Destiny’s Child – Vernon Forrest’s Gift to the World
In 1997, Vernon Forrest became frustrated while watching an individual with a disability become upset because, they couldn’t tie their shoestrings. Forrest founded Destiny’s Child, Inc., a facility in which individuals with psychological and developmental disabilities receive training in order to function and live as independently as possible.
Destiny’s Child, Inc. meant more to Forrest than any world championship he won or having earned any amount of money after a prize fight. Destiny’s Child, Inc. was Forrest’s way of doing his part to help change the world to make it a better place to live for others, especially for those in need.