29.09.06 – By Jim Amato: He only won 21 of 51 professional contests in a career that spanned seventeen years. He still became one of the most recognizable heavyweight “journeymen” of his era. His record although dotted with losses looks like a who’s who of the heavyweight division during the 1960’s and 70’s. He battled three world champions and seven men who fought for the heavyweight title and one who fought the great Bob Foster for the light heavyweight title. He also faced ten others who at one point or another was considered a legitimate contender.
George “Scrap Iron” Johnson was only 5′ 9″ tall, so he was usually at a disadvantage against the big heavyweights. Still, he took on all comers. He began his career in 1958 and had his last fight in 1975 when he was stopped in five rounds by the then up and coming Duane Bobick.
In only his sixth pro fight, he met future contender Tod Herring and was stopped in six.In 1964 he suffered losses to Andy Kendall and Thad Spencer. In 1965 he lost to Amos “Big Train” Lincoln, Henry Clark and Elmer Rush. He also fought to a draw with Mexican heavyweight Manuel Ramos.
In 1966, he was stopped in two by a young Jerry Quarry. He also went the distance in a losing effort against the talented Eddie Machen. In 1967, he took the streaking Joe Frazier the full ten rounds. Johnson then went on a six bout win streak.
George met the returning Sonny Liston and was stopped in seven. He then went ten rounds in a rematch with Quarry. Future champion George Foreman halted him but he then went the full route with Joe Bugner. In 1971, he went out in two rounds against Jurgen Blin. In 1972 big, bad Ron Lyle took his measure in three.
George put four wins together but the he lost consecutive decisions to Boone Kirkman, Johnny Boudreaux, Quarry and Leroy Jones. In 1975 he drew with the rugged Scott LeDoux. Then came the loss to Bobick and the end of his career.
Scrap Iron was a tough, tough guy. The kind of fighter you had to beat if you hoped to raise your game to the serious contender level.