Julian Jackson KO 4 Herol Graham: The Destruction Of A Boxer I Never Thought I’d See KO’d

17.06.06 - By James Slater: As a young man, Herol “Bomber” Graham was able to go into any pub or club in and around his hometown and, with his hands behind his back, challenge anyone to hit him. His reflexes were so incredibly sharp that, again and again, the fist of whoever accepted the challenge would go sailing past Herol’s head, hitting only fresh air. He really was utterly blessed in the practice of self defence. Nobody could lay a hand on him! It was only natural then, that a fine career as a professional boxer awaited him..

Herol, hailing from Sheffield, England, turned pro in 1978 with a points win over six rounds. It would be almost ten years before he was to lose a fight. He was able to frustrate every single opponent he fought with his uncommon defensive moves, southpaw stance and speed. Never a big puncher (the “Bomber” nickname was chosen to deliberately throw off opposition who, if they’d never seen him fight before, would be fooled into thinking Graham was something of a big punching brawler) Herol used his fast hands to throw shots from unusual angles, along with his great ability at making another fighter get tired by missing so frequently, to achieve victory

And until the fight with Sumbu Kalambay, in 1987, he looked quite unbeatable. Herol rebounded from the points loss to Kalambay and two years later challenged the great Mike McCallum for the world middleweight championship. Beaten on points again, Herol nevertheless gave a fine account of himself - losing by the slimmest of margins. What with all “The Body Snatcher” went on to achieve, this was indeed an excellent performance from the Sheffield man - giving McCallum one of his hardest ever fights.

Herol was perceived, quite rightly, as being extremely unlucky in the McCallum fight and many people expected him to finally get rid of his reputation, as one of the finest ever boxers never to have won a world title, when he was given another chance at world glory in 1990. Graham would face the huge punching Julian “The Hawk” Jackson. Jackson had only been beaten once - to the same guy that had recently out pointed Herol, Mike McCallum - and although he had gone on to win the world light middleweight title afterwards he was considered past his best going into the fight with Graham. There was a question over how good his eyesight was, due to a damaged retina that had required treatment. As a result of this the bout was not permitted to take place in England - such were the strictly enforced rules of the BBBofC. Instead the fight took place in the unlikely setting of Benalmadena in sunny Spain. The fight was to contest the vacant WBC middleweight belt and many predicted that Herol would never have a better chance of lifting world honours.

The fight took place on November the 24th 1990 and a KO was witnessed that was as brutal as it was surprising. Herol boxed absolute rings round Julian for three rounds - to the extent that the questionable eyesight of the fighter from the Virgin islands was put at even further jeopardy as a result of the accurate and constant punches Graham was landing on him. The fight was actually only seconds away from being stopped because of the battered and sorry looking state of Julian’s eyes. But then, with just over a minute gone in the fourth round, “The Hawk” hit home with a punch that felled his tormentor in a manner that was utterly frightening. Jackson let loose with a massive right hand that landed flush on the advancing Sheffield man’s unprotected jaw and the second it landed he was unconscious. Herol’s body went limp and he crashed to the canvas. It was one of the most devastating looking KO’s in recent boxing history. For almost five minutes Graham remained flat out on the ring floor. Thankfully he made a full recovery and was even able to joke about the fight later. Julian gave a prayer of thanks.

Herol had been ahead on all three judges scorecards and it really did look as though he would finally get his hands on a world title. How even more agonisingly close victory had been though, was summed up by the fact that the win would have been his had he simply stayed upright for another thirty seconds or so at the most. Had he not gone in for the kill and merely boxed and moved, the doctor would have put an end to the eventual winner’s chances. Yet another heartbreakingly close defeat had been inflicted on the skilled southpaw. He must have felt as though he was one of the most unlucky sportsmen there had ever been!

Graham did get one more chance at a title, when he fought the crowd pleasing Charles Brewer in 1998. But after another bright start that saw him deck the American twice, Herol was stopped in the tenth round. It was his final fight. His place in history had been decided - he would indeed go down as one of the best ever fighters to have never won a world title.

But when I look back on his once promising career, the biggest shock is not the fact that he failed to win a world championship, it is the fact that he was actually KO’d - and in such a brutal and pulverising way. The chances of Herol Graham being subject to such a fate was all but deemed impossible once upon a time!

Article posted on 18.06.2006

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