A Punchers Chance: The Story of KO King Julian Jackson


30.07.05 – By John Way: In boxing, there are several types of exciting fighters. For instance, men like Arturo Gatti and Diego Corrales can comeback from the brink of defeat after taking horrifying punishment to score dramatic knockouts. Another kind of excitement is produced by rugged, body punching sluggers like Rocky Maciano or Julio Cesar Chavez. If rock chinned aggression isn’t your thing, then maybe you’ll appreciate the early round knockouts of hard chargers like Mike Tyson or Jack Dempsey. But one kind of boxer seems to appeal to all types of fans: the thunderous punchers who can summon up a fight ending blow at anytime, but crumble if someone whacks them on the jaw. You know, guys like Tommy Hearns, Earnie Shavers, and perhaps most of all, Julian Jackson.

Despite facing some of the best 154 and 160 pound fighters of his era, Jackson is surprisingly absent from most experts lists of all time great fighters.

Much like fellow slugger Sonny Liston, Jackson’s early kayo record was hardly anything noteworthy, having gone the distance in his pro debut. But after another decision win in his seventh fight, Julian wouldn’t hear the final bell signal the end for his next thirty nine fights, of which he won thirty eight. Before he was done, fourteen of his fights would end in the first round. His chin was every bit as suspect as his hands were heavy, having been stopped in all six of his defeats.

Born in St. Thomas city in the Virgin Islands, hometown of welterweight great Emile Griffith, Jackson was soon a hit in the pro ranks with his explosive power. His fans didn’t seem to mind that he was blasting out faceless journeymen like Dominic Fox as long as Jackson managed to serve up that giant kayo wallop. Finally, he took a monumental leap up in class when he faced future hall of famer, 26-0 Mike “The Body Snatcher” McCallum. At this point in time, Julian had won 29 fights in a row, with 27 inside the distance, 16 of these were clean ten counts. The fight was a terrific seesaw battle with McCallum badly hurt in the first, but hecame out for the second hooking hard, and knocked out his challenger in one of the most exciting blowouts of the decade.

Learning from his previous mistake, Jackson reeled off three low level wins before crushing usually durable In Chul Baek in a mere three rounds. The win vaulted him right back into the thick of the junior middleweight rankings. Soon after this, he put together the most sensational win at that point by notching up another third round victory, this time over WBA champ Buster Drayton. After a few defenses and non-title fights, he starched recently inducted hall of famer, “Terrible” Terry Norris in what may have been the best win of his career. He was wobbled in the first round by the quicker Norris, but quickly turned it around in the next frame, ending the fight with trademark ferocity. After moving up to middleweight, he fought Herol “Bomber” Graham for the title vacated by Sumbu Kalamby. Graham, a protégé of Brendan Ingle, was an artful dodger, who’s defensive mastery was something like a mixture of Roy Jones jr. and Emmanuel Augustus. He would literally reduce grown men to tears with his expertly elusive antics; even prompting tough as nails Mark Kaylor to quit after eight rounds.

Graham was putting on his typical savvy performance against Jackson: countering, slipping, and dancing out of the way. After being consistently beaten to the punch for three and a half rounds, the champ unleashed one of the immortal right hands of boxing. It was the kind of knockout that gets shown over and over again in the replays. Spark out before he hit the canvas, Graham was unconscious for five alarming minutes before he was revived. His title reign began as well as any fighter could hope for, with two straight first round stretcher jobs, over quality guys like Dennis Milton and Ismael Negron. Then an emphatic blowout of Ron Collins followed, placing Jackson in the middle of the pound for pound discussions. His power punching reputation was slightly diminished when tough Thomas Tate lasted the twelve round distance.

The sad slide downward began on May 8 1993, when like all cowboys, he finally meet someone faster, tougher, and stronger than himself. Going into the fifth round of his WBC title bout with known kayo artist Gerald “G-Man” McClellan, Jackson had already built a modest lead. But this time, it wasn’t Jackson, but his opponent who managed to land that terrific right hand bomb, producing an ending so savage, that the Ring Magazine dubbed it the knockout of the year. Coming off a sensational
first round knockout of John “The Beast” Mugabi, McClellan would follow up his title winning effort with two more one rounders, against top contenders Jay Bell, and Gilbert Bapist.

When Jackson was set for the rematch, there were high hopes that the likeable ex-champ would thrash the somewhat darker, young lion. It was not to be, as “G-Man” flattened his challenger in the same manner with which he had dispatched Mugabi, Bell, and Baptist. This overwhelming defeat signaled the end for Jackson, as his performances became increasingly erratic. After a loss to Quincy Taylor, he soldiered on against all logic, only to get knocked out by Verno Phillips and Anthony Jones. Jackson should definitely be elected to the International Boxing Hall of Fame someday, based on his tremendous performances versus McCallum, Chul Baek, Norris, Graham, and Drayton. Also, whether on the receiving or delivering end, his fights always demonstrated what we call the punchers chance.

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