Friday, July 12th 2024

The Gerald "G-Man" McClellan Biography
By Jake Donovan

After enjoying a stellar amateur career, which included a resounding win over Roy Jones, Jr. en route to second place in the 1988 National Golden Gloves competition, Gerald turned pro in the same year. His debut took place in Milwaukee, which became the start of a recurring theme in his career - a win by first round knockout, this over Roy Hundley. In fact, Gerald won the first four fights of his professional career without ever having to see the second round.

After scoring ten straight knockouts to start his career, Gerald ran into a slight bump in the road, dropping a pair of decisions in Atlantic City, NJ in mid 1989. Even in losing, the awesome power that Gerald possessed throughout his career was still on display, having dropped Ralph Ward in the second round before losing for the second time inside of three months.

That would be the last time that Gerald would have to place a checkmark in the "L" column. Gerald made his way to Motown and Kronk gym, and under the tutelage of legendary Hall of Fame trainer Emanuel Steward, went about his winning ways once again. As the 80's turned into the 90's, Gerald developed into an awesome puncher-boxer, scoring five straight KO's and running his record to 15-2, with 15 KO's, all within three rounds or less.

Sanderline Williams and Charles Hollis somehow managed to end Gerald's KO streak, but not the winning streak, as Gerald scored back-to-back 8 round decisions in the middle of a very busy 1990. Jose Carlos Da Silva had the unfortunate luck of being the first of 14 straight fighters that the G-Man would not allow to make it to the final bell. In fact, his five fights following the two decision wins all ended as his previous knockout wins did -- inside of three rounds or less.

Riding a twelve fight wining streak, McClellan traveled outside of America for the first time in his pro career to face fellow power puncher and former world champion John "The Beast" Mugabi. By November 1991, Mugabi was nowhere near the level he was at when he faced Marvelous Marvin Hagler back in the mid 80's, but was still renowned for his brutal punching power, having scored 13 knockouts in 14 fights. However, it would be no match for McClellan's own power, as the G-Man took him out in less than a round to win the vacant WBO 160 lb. title. He vacated the title shortly thereafter, setting his sights on the bigger guns in the red hot middleweight division.

After returning stateside to score three more knockouts, Gerald became the #1 mandatory challenger for the WBC 160 lb. crown. It's owner at the time was Julian "The Hawk" Jackson, who was then regarded as the hardest puncher in boxing. Rightfully so, as he provided some of the most brutal knockouts in boxing history during his run as champion through two weight classes.

The two middleweight bombers were set to do battle in Mexico on the Julio Cesar Chavez-Greg Haugen PPV telecast in February 1993. However, an injury forced the champion to postpone the bout, and McClellan had to settle on one last tune-up, whom he blasted out in two rounds, thus ending a streak of five straight first round KO's.

Three months later in Las Vegas, the inevitable could no longer be denied. On the undercard of the Lennox Lewis-Tony Tucker telecast in May of 1993, the boxing world was in for a treat, as Gerald and Julian entered the contest with a combined 68 KOs in 73 wins, and only three losses between them. Going in, Jackson was a 3-1 favorite, which was as much of a testament to his awesome power as it was a question mark as to just how good Gerald really was.

All questions were answered in the fifth round. Hanging with Jackson punch for punch through four rounds, Gerald was forced to deal with a moment of adversity, absorbing two brutal low blows only seconds apart. The second forced G-Man to a knee, and referee Mills Lane warned Jackson that the next time would cost him a point on the scorecards.


Mills would talk to Jackson again, but it would be while Julian was flat on his back just seconds later. A straight right hand left Julian out on his feet, unable to defend himself as Gerald slammed home another right, and a left hook that drove the champion through the ropes and nearly into press row. Jackson beat Mills' count, but was in no condition to deny Gerald his dream -- a world title. Two devastating right hands later, Jackson crumbled to the canvas in his own corner. He once again beat the count, but did so with blood streaming down his face as he staggered along the ropes. Mills Lane waved the contest off, and with the force of a straight right hand, the torch was passed. Gerald was now a world champion, and pound for pound the hardest hitter in the sport. In addition to winning the title, the bout also earned universal recognition as the Knockout of the Year.

Three months later, Gerald traveled to Puerto Rico for his first title defense, which came against Jay Bell. Thirty seconds after the opening bell, McClellan added another feat to his already impressive resume -- the quickest knockout in middleweight championship history. The feat comes with a footnote however, as Bell twisted his ankle upon crashing to the canvas, and was unable to continue.

Seven months later, Gerald was to face top rated challenger Lamar Parks. Unfortunately, the highly anticipated showdown would never come about, as Parks tested HIV-positive and was forced to retire. Instead, McClellan had to settle for substitute Gilbert Baptiste, who promptly became the 19th fighter never to make it to the second round against the G-Man.

One day short of exactly one year after winning the WBC title, Gerald made his third defense in a rematch with Julian Jackson. The bout was the co-feature of what many consider to be the greatest Pay-Per-View telecast in boxing history: "Revenge: The Rematches." Many figured the bout to be the best of the four world title rematches on the telecast, but Gerald had other plans. Seconds into the bout, a right hand drove Jackson to the ropes, where McClellan unmercifully pounded away on the former champion.

The beating spilled over into a neutral corner, where Jackson finally went down, though almost seemingly voluntarily, just to, as Gerald would later describe it, "get the heat up off him." The plan failed, as seconds later, McClellan once again floored The Hawk. A digging hook to the body buckled Julian's knees, and an overhand right drove Jackson to the canvas, where he failed to beat Joe Cortez' count. Just 1:23 into the opening round, McClellan had scored his third title defense -- all by first round knockout. More importantly, he joined boxing's elite, having been ranked as high as #5 pound for pound by many writers and publications.

Poised for a future showdown with old amateur rival -- though now good friend -- Roy Jones, Jr., Gerald decided to move up 8 lb. north to the Super Middleweight division. Jones had just soundly defeated James Toney in November 1994 to take the IBF 168 lb. title, and stake his claim as Pound for Pound, best fighter in the world. McClellan wanted to state his own case, and traveled to England to do so, to challenge long reigning WBC champion Nigel Benn.

So feared was McClellan's punching power, that he entered the ring as a 4-1 favorite, despite having to travel to the other side of the Atlantic, not to mention having to move up for the first time in his career.

Gerald immediately attacked Nigel, and a mere thirty-seven seconds into the fight, a devastating flurry punctuated by two brutal blows to the head drove Nigel threw the ropes and out of the ring. He barely beat referee Alfred Asaro's count, but took a brutal beating in the process. However, Gerald's undoing - aside from many other issues discussed in the "Where Are They Now" article concerning the G-Man - was that he became too eager to make Benn his fourth straight 1st round KO victim. Instead, Benn managed to survive the onslaught, as well as an 8th round knockdown, and come back through his own power and questionable tactics to end Gerald's career, midway through the tenth round. Collapsing in his own corner as a result of a blood clot in his brain, Gerald ended his boxing career in a British hospital, fighting for his life.

Despite being forced to leave the sport, his legacy is well reflected in his impressive ring record of 31-3, with 29 KO's. All but his title winning KO of Julian Jackson came within three rounds or less, with an eye-popping 20 coming in round one. He is still regarded by many as one of the hardest punchers in boxing history. In his quest to regain normalcy into his life, he remains a hero to us all.

Photo by Chester Hollins
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