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Knockout Nation: RIP Vernon Forrest (1971-2009)

No Suspects Yet In Forrest Murder Former undisputed welterweight champion and junior middleweight titlist Vernon “The Viper” Forrest was shot and killed Saturday night (July 24) in an apparent carjacking attempt. The slaying took place in Forrest’s adopted hometown of Atlanta. Atlanta Police Sergeant Lisa Keyes confirmed Forrest’s death earlier today, stating that the veteran boxer succumbed to multiple gunshot wounds. Forrest was at a gas station around 11PM on Saturday, and was attempting to put air in his Jaguar tires while his girlfriend’s young son waited in the vehicle. According to authorities, Forrest was armed and gave chase to two assailants who attempted the carjacking. When he returned to his car, Forrest was shot 7 to 8 times with semi-automatics weapons, with at least one being to the head, and the rest in the back. Promoter Gary Shaw took time to reflect not just on Forrest’s boxing acumen, but his commitment to the community through his organization Destiny’s Child, which promoted outreach support to individuals with special needs.

 

“Vernon was one of the few decent people in boxing. I mean really decent,” Shaw told the Associated Press. “He cared about mentally challenged adults. He cared about kids. I just can’t believe it.”

 

HBO Sports president Ross Greenburg echoed those words, as his network gave Forrest his biggest national exposure courtesy of his back to back decisive wins over then pound for pound #1 “Sugar” Shane Mosley.

 

“He was one of the most gracious and charitable fighters in boxing and he will be missed by the entire boxing community and all his friends at HBO,” Greenburg stated. “It is time for the needless loss of life to end. Maybe Vernon’s lasting legacy will be for Americans everywhere to rise up and end this kind of senseless violence.”

 

Former Forrest trainer Buddy McGirt was still in shock, now mourning the death of another fighter along with his former charge Arturo Gatti.

 

“I just feel so bad, he has a son you know,” McGirt told ESPN.com. “Someone is going to be raised without a father because somebody wanted to rob someone.”

 

Vernon Forrest was 38 years old, and has a final record of 41-3-1, 29 KOs. At press time, there are no suspects in his murder, aside from the general description of two black males driving a red Monte Carlo. In honor of his memory, Knockout Nation takes a look back at the career of The Viper.

 

Olympic Success and Early Beginnings

Vernon Forrest began his boxing career at the age of 9 and was a natural at the sport. Over the course of his amateur career, he won the 1991 US junior welterweight championship, and placed silver in the 1991 World Boxing Amateur Championships (losing to future champ Kostya Tszyu).

 

His final amateur record was an astounding 225-16.

The following year, he won a spot on the 1992 Olympic Team by defeating future rival Shane Mosley in the trials. Unfortunately, Forrest lost in the opening round, partly due to a bad case of food poisoning the day before his fight. Back home, the young fighter immediately turned pro in 1992. His first four years were dominant, with Forrest scoring knockouts in 15 of his first 18 bouts.

 

Still, Forrest’s unflashy style did not endear him to promoters, and he would not receive a major title shot until 2000. The IBF title bout would come against Raul Frank, and prove disappointing as the fight was ruled a no-contest due to an accidental headbutt. Nine months later in May 2001, Forrest would leave no doubt by dominating Frank in the rematch to a lopsided decision win.

 

Now as the IBF champ, the drums started beating for a unification match with welterweight star “Sugar” Shane Mosley.

 

Ending Shane Mosley’s Reign

In 2002, Shane Mosley was on top of the boxing world. He was still undefeated, and riding the wave of an epic win over a prime Oscar De La Hoya. When he signed on to face Forrest, most experts expected Mosley to again steamroll over a mostly unknown opponent. However, someone forgot to tell that to Forrest. After winning the opening round, Mosley was rocked by an overhand right and dropped by a vicious uppercut in round 2. Mosley was badly hurt, and was dropped again before barely making it out of the round.

Forrest would dominate the remainder of the bout, and made Mosley visibly cry out in pain courtesy of a brutal body punching display in round 10.

The final scorecards were 118-108, 117-108, and 115-110, giving Vernon Forrest the WBC welterweight crown. Eager for revenge, Mosley agreed to an immediate rematch 6 months later. While a little closer, Forrest mauled his way to victory and kept Mosley frustrated with his long jab and straight right. This time, Forrest defeated Mosley with scores of 117-111, 116-112, and 115-113. Vernon Forrest was now the welterweight kingpin, and seemed poised for a long reign after signing a multi-million dollar contract with HBO. Unfortunately for Forrest, his career would forever be derailed by a wild, Nicaraguan brawler by the name of Ricardo Mayorga. Mayorga Upsets Vernon Forrest was all smiles on the way to the ring against Ricardo Mayorga in 2003. For the champ, he full expected to have a coming out party courtesy of the crude, unskilled opponent in front of him. A wild Mayorga left hook dropped Forrest in round one, and from there both men would exchange in a frenetic, back and forth brawl. But that style was not Forrest’s game, and Mayorga scored a stunning TKO in round 3 off a chopping right hand.

Forrest invoked an immediate rematch, but visibly lacked confidence and showed fear of the man who had previously KO’d him. The entertaining bout showcased Forrest landing the cleaner punches, but Mayorga held the edge in aggression, and visibly knocked Forrest around the ring with glancing blows. In the end, the judges preferred Mayorga, giving him the unanimous decision win. To make matters worse, Forrest would discover he had severe damage on the rotator cuff of his left shoulder, which put him out for over 2 years.

Comeback Trail and End Forrest made a lowkey comeback in 2005, scoring TKO wins against overmatched opponents Sergio Rios and Elco Garcia at 154 pounds. In 2006, he faced former welterweight star Ike Quartey at Madison Square Garden. Even though it appeared he was convincingly outworked, Forrest won an unpopular unanimous decision that elicited boos from the crowd. The bad performance made Forrest take a sabbatical for nearly a year, but he returned to form in December 2007 by dominating Carlos Baldomir to pick up the vacant WBC junior middleweight title. After one successful defense against Michele Piccirillo, he engaged in two contentious bouts with former Contender star Sergio Mora. The younger Mora outworked the aging Forrest in the first bout to pick up the WBC title, but immediately dropped the strap via decision in their September 2008 rematch. In the latter fight, Forrest delivered one of his best performances post-Mosley, and seemed primed to have a successful run in the division. The win would give Forrest his 5th and final world title.

At the time of his murder, Vernon Forrest was set to have a tuneup fight in October in preparation for a possible fight with middleweight champion Kelly Pavlik. RIP Vernon Forrest (1971-2009) Forrest vs. Mosley I (Full Fight)

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