was not the way things were supposed to be.
this time, the talk should have been of a rematch (or possibly
even a third fight) between two of the world's top fighters.
The buzz around boxing wouldn't have been of Tyson or DeLa
Hoya, but of McClellan and Jones. Gerald McClellan and Roy
Jones Jr. were on a collision course in 1995. A Superfight
between the two in 1996 would have captured the imagination
of the fistic world. Two young champions, at the top of their
respective games, duking it out with the intensity of Ali-Frazier,
and the savagery of Zale-Graziano.
as we approach this Thanksgiving in 1998, we are left with
only what might have been. Roy Jones has moved on to the light
heavyweights, bearing the cross of having no opponent to properly
define his career. Gerald McClellan's situation is much more
dire. Gerald is blind, unable to walk, and in need of constant
care from his three sisters. Instead of a multi-million dollar
showdown with Jones, McClellan was destroyed by boxing in
February of 1995.
that night in London, Gerald McClellan, the former middleweight
champion rising in weight to challenge for the WBC super middleweight
crown, collapsed after a brutal ten round bout with Nigel
Benn. Benn, who was knocked through the ropes in the first
round and ultimately saved from a first round knockout by
an inept referee, fought McClellan furiously, scoring two
knockdowns in the tenth which ended the fight.
who complained to his corner after the second round that something
was not right, soon fell into a coma, and surgery was immediately
conducted to remove a blood clot from his brain.
Gerald survived, and returned to the loving arms of his sisters
Lisa, Stacey, and Sandra. Lisa recently told me that "This
is not a sympathy story". She said that Gerald is forced
to do dishes around the house, and while he doesn't like it,
his sisters are trying to give him as normal a life as they
can considering the circumstances. She says that he has bad
days, but that he's happy. Unfortunately, Gerald will never
see his three children again. He will never see his two sons
play ball, or see his little girl Forrest take dance classes.
this alone can make us all question why we even want to watch
in times of distress, the cream rises to the top. Re-enter
Roy Jones. "Roy has done a lot. He has done more for
Gerald than anyone. He has done more than other fighters who
were closer to Gerald." says Lisa. Roy Jones, chided
for arrogance, saddled with the crown of "reluctant warrior",
has stepped up to the plate to deliver more than words for
his former rival. Jones and McClellan met as amateurs, and
though they were planning to step into the ring with each
other, they became friends, and a mutual admiration society
Jones has not forgotten his friend.
association with HBO Sports and Ring 8, Jones has launched
a campaign to establish a trust fund for Gerald McClellan's
children. This fund will help make better lives for three
children who have experienced a loss that none of us can truly
November 10th, Jones joined such boxing luminaries as Oscar
DeLa Hoya, Shane Mosley, Michael Grant, Tracy Patterson, and
Junior Jones, to honor Gerald. Lisa McClellan was there, as
was the family of Sugar Ray Robinson. On this night the new
HBO documentary, "Sugar Ray Robinson: The Bright Lights
and Dark Shadows of a Champion" was premiered. As Jones
spoke eloquently about Gerald and the perils a fighter faces
each time he steps into the ring ("Gerald McClellan could
have been Roy Jones Jr." ), we saw first hand a champion's
bright lights, as he tries to help a friend who only sees
this Thanksgiving, boxing fans have a chance to not only count
their blessings, but to give something back to a champion
who thrilled us all.