Gerald McClellan was a major star in boxing’s middleweight division during the late 1980s into the mid-1990s. Before 30-years old, he had become a two-time World Champion thanks to his skill and high knockout ability. In a career that spanned roughly six years, he had only been beaten twice.
Now he was about to face his greatest challenge yet, the Super Middleweight Champion Nigel Benn.
In the U.S. at the time you had middleweight stars such as McClellan and Julian Jackson who came towards the end of the generation featuring Duran, Hagler, Hearns, and Leonard. In the U.K, the middleweight division was dominated by the trio of Eubank, Benn, and Watson as stars.
Coming into the fight, McClellan was 31-2 with 29 knockouts. Benn, nearing the end of his career, was 40-2-1 with 33 knockouts in addition to being the WBC Super Middleweight Champion. A barnburner, a wild fight, a slobberknocker—call it what you will, but the bout between McClellan and Benn was even and brutal as the two KO artists looked for a win. It was also a match that wasn’t without controversy—especially from the performance of the referee.
The two were so evenly matched throughout that the bout went longer than both men were accustomed. Observers noticed McClellan blinking throughout the start of round 10. After a hard shot from Benn, McClellan dropped to a knee and milked the eight count.
After getting back into the match, it appeared that McClellan was out since he didn’t return Benn’s blows and went down again, taking the count out. Afterward, McClellan returned to his corner and eventually slipped into unconsciousness.
Gerald McClellan would receive emergency surgery for a blood clot that reached his brain. After coming out of a coma, doctors found that the fighter had severe brain damage resulting in the loss of hearing, eyesight, and ability to walk on his own. McClellan would eventually be able to walk with a cane. His sister Lisa said that he wasn’t deaf but his comprehension suffered.
Currently, his sister attends to his needs around the clock. He is supported by various donations, fundraisers, and a WBO-initiated trust to assist McClellan’s sister.
-The Fight of Their Lives (documentary): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cphU10YGxEY
-vs. Nigel Benn (WBC Super Middleweight Title): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7to-Ch5Omaw
Saw the fight, it was brutal. In hindsight, it should have been stopped on the first knockdown. But, Mcclellan was such a Warrior that the Ref decided to let in continue.