The Dark Destroyer Part Five: Sudden Impact

Updated: Jul 16, 2020

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25th February 1995, London Arena

WBC Super-Middleweight Title

Nigel Benn vs Gerald McClellan

"They're going to set mini Mike Tyson on you," Benn was informed by his manager Peter DeFreitas. Mini Mike Tyson was Don King's nickname for Gerald McClellan. King's plan was simple; McClellan would knock out Benn and unify the WBC title with pound-for-pound number one and IBF super-middleweight champion Roy Jones Jnr, who McClellan out pointed in 1988 at the semi-final stage of the National Golden Gloves Tournament.

Born in Freeport, Illinois on 23rd October 1967, McClellan turned professional in August 1988, fighting out of his home city of Detroit, representing Emanuel Steward's Kronk gym. He blitzed through his first ten opponents before getting outpointed over eight rounds by Dennis Milton in June 1989.

Three months later he was outscored for a second time by Ralph Ward. He then walked through his next five opponents before winning a unanimous eight round decision over durable Sanderline Williams in August 1991. The following month he was taken the eight-round distance again by Charles Hollis, before embarking on an amazing KO spree.

He stopped his next four opponents and in November 1991 travelled to London's Royal Albert Hall to face John 'The Beast' Mugabi for the vacant WBO middleweight title. 'The Beast' managed to take Marvelous Marvin Hagler into the eleventh round in 1986, but after three knockdowns he wasn't able to last three-minutes with McClellan.

'The G-Man' never defended his new belt and carried on in 1992 with devastating effect, stopping all three opponents in the opening round. His first fight of '93 against fellow American Tyrone Moore in Mexico lasted two rounds.

He then challenged the hard-hitting WBC middleweight champion Julian Jackson on 08th May 1993. The defending champion won the vacant belt when behind on the scorecards and his eyes closing rapidly, sensationally knocked out Britain's Herol Graham in the fourth round. The victory made him a two-weight world champion as in November 1987 he claimed the vacant WBA light-middleweight championship with a third round TKO over In Chul Baek.

Against McClellan he was making the fifth defence of his his middleweight belt at the Thomas and Mack Center, Las Vegas, on the under card to Lennox Lewis's first heavyweight title defence against Tony Tucker.

Jackson, who only lost to Mike McCallum in a WBA light-middleweight title challenge in August 1986, in a forty-seven-fight career with forty-three knockouts, was ahead on two of the judges’ cards going into the fifth round. In a battle of the punchers, it was McClellan who rendered the official's scorecards useless when he took Jackson out with two-minutes and 09 seconds of the round.

The new WBC champion made short work of his next two challengers, blasting them out in the first round before taking on Jackson again in May 1994. Jackson had won three on the spin, two one round blowouts and a ten round unanimous decision victory and was expected to be a dangerous proposition for the defending champion.

However, The G-Man was in no mood to wait around and had Jackson on the canvas in the first. The Virgin Islander clambered up on his feet but was soon taken out well within 90 seconds of the opening round.

McClellan would next travel to London to take on Nigel Benn and many pundits believed he would repeat his last performance in a British ring when he took out John Mugabi. McClellan's consecutive knockout strike of fourteen, ten in the first round, made him a firm three-to-one favorite to lift the title, despite splitting from Emanuel Steward, as he believed the Kronk trainer wasn't spending enough time with him and going with Stanley Johnson, whose fighters had some of the worst records in America.