The Gerald McClellan we see today is far removed from the ferociousness of the one that haunted the Middleweight division back in the 90’s, he no longer punches people for a living but is in a far bigger fight than he had participated in previous, the one of life or death after a fateful night in London left him paralysed following his world title challenge against Nigel Benn.
Today marks his 51st birthday, a day in which he should be celebrated for being one of the divisions best but is one sobered by the fact that he has spent most of those years in and out of the hospital, on ventilators or sitting in a wheelchair, hardly able to talk, see or hear It’s a grievous outlook on the darker side of the sport.
In the confines of the squared circle, Gerald at the height to his powers was a menace, one of the sports great punchers, a two-time World Champion who showed his ability to end a night early was mirrored on his record by only going the distance on four occasions.
He took his first title in 1991, two punchers faced off with one another with the expectation that only one would be left standing, John ‘The Beast’ Mugabi a long time home run hitter that had since faded somewhat snarled across the ring at the youthful McClellan, not knowing to the extent that his power reached. One round is all it took, one round in which McClellan sent Mugabi to the canvas three times before the fight was rightfully stopped.
It was a means to an end, McClellan had been a whisper in the division up until that point, now he had arrived on the world stage with a bang as loud as the noise from one of his right hands.
Not interested in defending his newly captured title, he vacated without a single defence, he had fresh prey in his sights, another puncher in the WBC king Julian Jackson.
Four non-title fights commenced before he got to that point, culminating in an appearance on a Julio Cesar Chavez undercard with 132,247 spectators in attendance to witness first hand the devastation he conjured up .
In 1993, he finally got his wish for a shot at Jackson, this was the one that the boxing public had craved, two of sports most potent punchers had aligned themselves in a Mexican shootout.
For five rounds both men put forward their argument for the divisions best, McClellan’s power outlasting ‘the hawk’ as he came out on top, stopping Jackson to become a two-time world champion.
Defences against Jay Bell and Gilbert Baptist followed with both waking up on Sunday morning with a headache from being stopped/knocked out by the G-man before a revenge mission was aborted by Jackson in the rematch, McClellan needing only one round this time.
It was at this moment that the Middleweight division had lost its lustre with McClellan who sought a new challenge in a new division, one that would become his last in that haunting night that left him paralysed.
I won’t go over that particular fight as I have already penned an article of the contest which can be read here.
We heard in the aftermath of his struggles to make the Super Middleweight limit but once he had his eyes set on its prize he was not to be talked down.
McClellan lived his life to its savagery limits, his notorious dogfighting exploits were talked of frequently, but like one of his Pitbulls he displayed the same kind of kill or be killed persona.
When people talk of ruthlessness in a fighter, you will find good company for McClellan with the likes of Mike Tyson, Roberto Duran, Carlos Monzon and more recently Edwin Valero amongst others.
Everyone loves a knockout puncher, in that respect, there were none better than the G-Man.
Happy Birthday Champ, from us all at TopClassBoxing