Gerald McClellan, We’ll Never Forget Him

by James Slater: Forty-four years ago this week (October 23rd) Gerald McClellan was born. Known as "The G-Man" during his days as a world class middleweight and super-middleweight, Gerald is, sadly, known these days for something else other than the superb fighting prowess he used to display.

Tragically, as surely every fight fan knows, McClellan was permanently injured in his ferocious clash with Britain's Nigel Benn in February of 1995. Virtually blind and deaf ever since, Gerald lives with his two sisters today and needs constant care. Indeed, his plight is one of modern day boxing's saddest stories. The tragedy that befell the man who turns 44 in three days time is certainly one Nigel himself will never be able to forget. Many other people involved will always remember, too.

McClellan turned pro, after having notched up amateur victories over future greats Roy Jones Junior (who, it has been said, will never visit his good friend until he finally hangs up his own gloves) and Michael Moorer, in August of 1988. A first round KO over a guy named Roy Hundley saw the start to a very promising pro career. Early setbacks to Dennis Milton and Ralph Ward, both losses coming on points, failed to deter "The G-Man" and soon enough his potential was realized.

In November of 1991, after having notched up twelve wins since the back-to-back defeats to Milton and Ward, McClellan was matched with John "The Beast" Mugabi for the vacant WBO middleweight crown. The fight took place in the U.K, at The Royal Albert Hall in London, and McClellan won in a brutally swift manner. Three knockdowns in the first round later, and Gerald was the holder of his first world title. There was much more glory to come, however.

After relinquishing the lesser respected of the four major belts without even defending it, McClellan met the fierce punching Julian Jackson for the real thing. In May of 1993, Jackson defended his WBC 160 pound championship against McClellan. By now in his prime at age 25, "The G-Man" was recognized as a very talented and hard hitting fighter. His fight with Jackson was proof of just how good he was. After taking some hard shots in the early rounds, McClellan got on top in the fifth and captured the title via spectacular KO - almost knocking Jackson clean out of the ring. The Emanuel Steward-trained boxer was now the true middleweight king.

Three successful defences followed - including a rematch with Jackson, this bout won in just one round, and a twenty second blow-out of Jay Bell, which holds the world record for fastest KO ever in a middleweight world title fight - before McClellan's move up to super-middleweight and his date with Nigel Benn.

Enough has already been written about the awful events surrounding McClellan's epic war with "The Dark Destroyer." Fans know all about Gerald's pre-fight split with Emanuel Steward and the fact that he probably had no plan B after plan A's idea of knocking Benn out in a round or two failed. The image of McClellan twitching and blinking as the fight wore on will never be forgotten, either. Without doubt, the memories of February 25th, 1995 are unpleasant ones for all fans of Gerald McClellan. It is heartbreakingly sad that those final seconds of a brutal ten rounds are what he is most well known for today. It wasn't supposed to end like that for McClellan - he was meant to become one of the great ones. Or so it seemed, anyway.

Celebrating his birthday is not something Gerald will be doing on Sunday of this week, living as he is in a dark and lonely netherworld. His predicament is a stark reminder of just how dangerous boxing can be - and how extremely brave all those individuals who choose to do it for a living must be.

Gerald McClellan: fight fans will never forget him.

Article posted on 21.10.2011

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