Johnny Nelson’s boxing career from the late 1980s and into 1990 saw him rack up a number of cruiserweight titles but a world title eluded him. After winning the EBU European Cruiserweight title and successfully defending it, he was once again on track for a shot at major cruiserweight gold.
World Cruiserweight Champion
Following his successful December 1991 defense of the European Cruiserweight title, he got a shot at the IBF World Cruiserweight title held by James Warring. The champion was coming off his first successful defense and was 13-1 and on a twelve-match winning streak.
Warring debuted before Nelson but the experience edge was on the side of Nelson who had boxed consistently up until this bout. Entering the match, Nelson was 21-5-1. Nelson hadn’t been defeated in 16 matches, the sole blemish being a draw against Carlos de Leon for the WBC belt almost two years earlier.
This match proved to be a stamina test for both fighters. Following 12 rounds of action, Warring would defeat Nelson on points. The rest of 1992 was a wash for Nelson as he lost all three fights he had that year. After six months away, he would get another shot at world gold, facing Dave Russell for the vacant WBF Cruiserweight title in April 1993.
Nelson would manage to take belt following 11 rounds of action with a knockout. The match was considered a poor one that resulted in at least one fan threated to sue him under the country’s Trade Description Act. He had claimed his first world title but the reign would be a short one.
After defending the belt in August of that year, he was scheduled to defend against Franco Wanyama in October. This fight ended in Nelson being disqualified and losing the WBF Cruiserweight title.
Nelson had put on weight in the weeks following and was put forth for Johnny Thunder’s WBF Heavyweight title. The New Zealander had just won the title in July and was coming off a non-title victory. Nelson would take Thunder the full 12 rounds and win the title in a unanimous decision.
He would have one successful defense in November 1994 in another bout that went the full 12 rounds. Following this bout, he ran into a brick wall named Adilson “Maguila” Rodrigues in August 1995. Rodrigues was 63-5 heading into the fight and had the experience advantage to combat Nelson’s reach.
This match and the rematch that December bout went the full 12 rounds. The first bout was won on points while the second was another unanimous decision. Johnny Nelson wouldn’t return to the heavyweight ranks for almost 11 years when he won the vacant WBU Heavyweight Title.
-Knockouts Highlights: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LbOUVdX-te8