HE is still regarded as one of the greatest punchers to have ever stepped between the ropes, however Gerald McClellan’s career will be remembered more for the way that it ended, rather than for his notable achievements.
Rarely have we seen a fighter with as much ferocity, inside the ring and out.
Today McClellan, who has sadly never been the same since the famous clash with Nigel Benn in 1995, turns 51 years old.
HE was a two-time world champion, who only suffered defeat three times as a professional. He won his first title, the WBO middleweight strap, in 1991, when he met another ferocious, albeit fading, puncher in “The Beast” John Mugabi at the Royal Albert Hall. Mugabi entered the fight having never been taken all the way to the final bell in his career, including his three losses, a run which was to continue when the destructive McClellan knocked him down three times in the opening round to win the vacant title.
McCLELLAN, born October 23 1967, only went to points four times in his career, winning and losing two, and he never went past 10 rounds in his 34 fights, of which 29 were knockout victories. He knocked out 29 of the men he faced. He vacated the WBO belt without making a single defence, in fact the title remained vacant until 1993, and began to hunt down the WBC champion, Julian Jackson.
THE slugger then had four non-title bouts, culminating in an appearance on an incredible bill in Mexico, promoted by Don King, where 132,247 spectators turned up to see Julio Cesar Chavez move to 85-0, as he defended his WBC light-welterweight title, against Greg Haugen. Also fighting that night, were Terry Norris, Michael Nunn and Azumah Nelson, who all defended their world titles, as well as a young Felix Trinidad who was well on his way to becoming a world champion.
McCLELLAN finally got his hands on Jackson at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas in May 1993, stopping him in the fifth of a wild encounter to become a two-time world champion.
OUTSIDE of the ring, McClellan developed an unsavoury reputation for his love of dog fighting.
THE G-MAN defended the WBC belt twice, before stopping Jackson inside a round in the rematch. But, he couldn’t resist the lure of Benn and the super-middleweight division.
THE Illinois resident met Benn at the New London Arena in Millwall, with the WBC title on the line and he started like a train, sending “The Dark Destroyer” flying through the ropes in the first round. He had Benn down again in the eighth, but in the 10th, and fading fast, McClellan took a knee, blinking and gulping back air, even though he wasn’t on the receiving end of any punches. He made it back to his corner before slumping to the canvas.
THE aftermath has been reported several times, but McClellan was left brain damaged and never fought again. Today he is almost blind, 80 per cent deaf, and walks with a cane.
HIS hometown, Freeport in Illinois, has contributed supplies and manpower to repair McClellan’s home, as well as donating huge sums to help with “The G-Man’s” ongoing medical expenses. Along with his family, former potential rival Roy Jones Jnr, who McClellan holds a win over in the amateurs, set up a fund to help pay for the $70,000 annual bill.
BENN has also contributed massively, hosting a fundraiser in which the auction raised £200,000. McClellan still requires around the clock medical care and the WBC have publicly appealed for help.
HIS career will forever be linked to the Benn fight, who once chillingly commented on the fight, “You know what? This is what you wanted to see. You got what you wanted to see.” The fight, undoubtedly, was boxing at its most savage.