The Heavyweight Who Rumbled With Tyson, Holmes, Golota, Mercer, And Plenty More
Let’s celebrate the career of a fine heavyweight who was/is defined as a journeyman. Today in 1957, Jesse Ferguson was born. Ferguson, who would go on to be nicknamed “Boogeyman,” sure put the frighteners up many a good fighter.
Turning pro in 1983 – this after having began boxing whilst serving in the Marines, Jesse having a short (ish) amateur run – Ferguson won his first 13 fights, all but three by KO. And during this spell, Ferguson defeated a young James “Buster” Douglas via majority decision. A points loss to yet another future Mike Tyson foe in Carl Williams soon followed, and maybe it was inevitable that Ferguson would soon fight Tyson himself.
The Tyson fight came for Jesse in February of 1986, in what was “Kid Dynamite’s” HBO debut. Famously, having stopped a stubborn Ferguson in six, Tyson uttered the chilling, much-repeated line of how he was “trying to hit the tip of his nose, so it would go up into his brain.” Or words to that effect.
Jesse, who had sparred Tyson, and Razor Ruddock (yet another Tyson dance partner), Lennox Lewis (yet again!), and Michael Moorer, fought on. But it was strictly journeyman mode from here on on. Almost 20 additional losses came, but most of them were handed to Ferguson by top class operators – with the likes of Bonecrusher Smith (the list of Tyson common opponents really doesn’t stop, does it!), Orlin Norris (another Tyson foe), Oliver McCall, Bruce Seldon (oops, here’s another one), Mike Dokes, Tony Tubbs (one more still) besting him.
But Jesse’s losing streak was finally snapped, in a pretty big way, courtesy of his 1993 win over Ray Mercer. This fight proved, on a big stage, that if you didn’t show up in good shape when fighting Ferguson, you might well go home a loser. Mercer found this out, and the fight drew plenty of press/controversy. Mercer was alleged to have tried to bribe Ferguson to go down in the fight he knew he was losing. Mercer has always denied these claims.
Buy Ferguson had won a big one, and the victory earned him a shot at ruling heavyweight champ Riddick Bowe. Bowe took Jesse out in two rounds and it was back to the drawing-board for “The Boogeyman.”
A return fight with Mercer saw Ferguson lose a decision (albeit a split), while Jesse was then wiped out by Frank Bruno (yes, another Tyson foe), before he was decisioned by Larry Holmes (yet another one), was stopped by Jeremy Williams, was decisioned by Alex Stewart (they keep on coming), and was then stopped by Danell Nicholson.
It was now 1995, and Jesse was close to the end. Eight more fights came, with Ferguson winning six of them. Eventually, in 1999, a points loss to “Foul Pole” Andrew Golota (still another Tyson opponent) signalled the departure of Ferguson. Retiring with a 26-18(16) record, Ferguson vanished into a world of obscurity. Or privacy.
Jesse Ferguson made his mark on the sport, on the heavyweight division, and he isn’t shouting about it today. Either by choice or due to other means. We all hope this “Boogeyman” is doing well wherever he is today.