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Johnny Nelson-The Entertainer


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Of all the great and famous names in the rich British boxing history, Johnny Nelson is the one that is perhaps least respected-due to the fact that he fought in the cruiser division and at a time when it was considered one of the weakest and least exciting boxing divisions. However, Nelson's achievements are unparalleled by many other famous British boxers when it comes to sheer numbers and facts: he is one of very few who has held a world title for 7 years and is fourth behind Joe Calzaghe (21), Naseem Hamed (15) and Chris Eubank (14) in the number of title defences. Even the likes of Lennox Lewis and John Conteh fall behind on this list. 

Born as Ivanson Ranny Nelson on 4 January 1967 in Sheffield, to a Dominican father and a Cuban-Jamaican mother, Nelson turned pro early, at the age of 19, under trainer Brendan Ingle and had his first pro fight 18 March '86. He lost his first 3 fights and was 4-4 after the first 8. His third loss came against the future WBO champion, Norwegian Magne Havnaa, all on points. The 6'2 1/2 (189 cm) tall Nelson also has an 81-inch (206 cm) reach and with his long arms and good height for a cruiser, he was a tough opponent, once he got better. However, since he was a lanky and sinewy guy, he never could fight at heavyweight too well. He was therefore destined to succeed at the most unglamorous division back then. After his fourth loss, he went unbeaten in 9 fights, also winning the British title by KO 8 against Andy Straughn and defending it against Ian Bulloch by KO 2. 

He was then matched against the reigning WBC-champion, Carlos "Sugar" DeLeon of Puerto Rico. Leon was already considered past his best at the age of 30. The fight even took place in Sheffield, 27 January 1990 in City Hall, but Nelson turned in a too passive and cautious performance and, in the end, he was denied the title in a draw. He became quite unpopular because of this, for a while anyway. At the end of that year, 14 December, he went to Germany to fight their hopeful, Markus Bott, for the vacant European title. He was victorious when he stopped Bott by TKO 12, who later tested positive for steroids. Next year, he defended the title against Yves Monsieur and won by RTD 8 in Mansfield, England. He then challenged for the IBF title against the champion and former kickboxer, James Warring. This time he had to go to USA and fought Warring in Bealton, Virginia, 16 May '92. He lost to the more experienced Warring by a wide UD.

Even worse, later that year, 14 August, he took on the French Cameroonian Norbert Ekassi, a hard-hitting warrior, in Ajaccio, Corsica. Although he put Ekassi down in the second round, he was himself knocked down in the third, after absorbing a lot of punches, and stopped. It would remain his only knockout loss. He then went up to heavyweight and went to South Africa to fight the unbeaten Corrie Sanders but lost to him by a wide UD 10. Next year on 30 April, he won the vacant WBF cruiser title by stopping Dave Russell by TKO 11. After defending it once successfully against Tom Collins by TKO 1, he lost it by a disqualification in 10 against Franco Wanyama, a Belgian-based fighter, in Waregem, Belgium, on 1 October. He then went back to heavyweight for a while and beat Jimmy Thunder to win the heavy version of the WBF title, on points. On 5 April '94, he fought the towering Henry Akinwande and dropped a decision to him in 10 rounds. 

After defending the WBF heavy title by Nikolay Kulpin on points, he lost it fighting away in Brazil against their only famous heavyweight, Adilson Rodrigues, on points, a split decision. It was on 22 August '95 and they had a rematch on 3 December, again in Brazil. This time the scorecards were a little closer but all in favour for Rodrigues. Nelson decided to return to cruisers again and recaptured the British title by stopping Dennis Andries in his last fight, by TKO 7, 14 December '96. He recaptured the European title as well in his next fight, against Patrice Aouissi in France, by TKO 7 also. After making one defence against Dirk Wallyn by TKO 1, he then FINALLY could challenge for a world title again. He faced Carl Thompson, the reigning WBO-champion, 27 March '99 at Derby Storm Arena in Derby.

Both men looked in splendid shape, but the taller and rangier Nelson was successful in counterpunching Thompson, simply bombing him out with his long lefts and rights. In round 2, Nelson staggered Thompson with several big shots but Thompson came back and landed some good shots of his own. Early in round 4, Nelson connected with a big right which put Thompson down. Nelson tried to finish him off, but the tough champion weathered the storm and made it to round 5, when he ran into several lefts and rights from Nelson, before the ref stopped the fight, somewhat prematurely but still not quite unreasonably. Nelson was the champion finally, after 13 years!!! 

Few would've thought his reign would be so long, however. As mentioned, he made 13 defences, most famously against Marcelo Fabian Dominguez (UD), Ezra Sellers (KO8), Guillermo Jones (D), Alexander Petkovic (MD) and Vincenzo Cantatore (SD). The Cantatore-fight was also his last, taking place 26 November '05 in Italy. He was supposed to fight Enzo Maccarinelli on 4 March 2006, at the undercard of Calzaghe vs Lacy, but picked up a knee injury in sparring before that and had to pull out. Now pushing 40, Nelson relinquished his title after 7 years and announced his retirement on 22 September 2006. His record is 45 wins, 29 by ko, 12 losses and 2 draws.

Of course, most of you know that he became a popular and famous TV persona in UK following his retirement and has appeared in many programs and documentaries. He also still leads the "Face to Face" documentary where he interviews fighters before a big fight. Early in 2007, Nelson announced he plans to come back to the ring and even said he wanted to fight David Haye, back then the hottest cruiserweight in the world. Luckily for him, he abandoned that idea and did not attempt a comeback. Johnny Nelson was a late bloomer who had physical attributes which he used well, plus he could hit hard and box well when needed. He was also rather tough-chinned and could take punishment pretty well. As a TV-persona, he has as many detractors as fans, but as a fighter, he was immensely popular in UK, especially while he was a champion.

Johnny Nelson

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On 11/21/2022 at 4:29 PM, BoztheMadman said:

Of all the great and famous names in the rich British boxing history, Johnny Nelson is the one that is perhaps least respected-due to the fact that he fought in the cruiser division and at a time when it was considered one of the weakest and least exciting boxing divisions. However, Nelson's achievements are unparalleled by many other famous British boxers when it comes to sheer numbers and facts: he is one of very few who has held a world title for 7 years and is fourth behind Joe Calzaghe (21), Naseem Hamed (15) and Chris Eubank (14) in the number of title defences. Even the likes of Lennox Lewis and John Conteh fall behind on this list. 

Born as Ivanson Ranny Nelson on 4 January 1967 in Sheffield, to a Dominican father and a Cuban-Jamaican mother, Nelson turned pro early, at the age of 19, under trainer Brendan Ingle and had his first pro fight 18 March '86. He lost his first 3 fights and was 4-4 after the first 8. His third loss came against the future WBO champion, Norwegian Magne Havnaa, all on points. The 6'2 1/2 (189 cm) tall Nelson also has an 81-inch (206 cm) reach and with his long arms and good height for a cruiser, he was a tough opponent, once he got better. However, since he was a lanky and sinewy guy, he never could fight at heavyweight too well. He was therefore destined to succeed at the most unglamorous division back then. After his fourth loss, he went unbeaten in 9 fights, also winning the British title by KO 8 against Andy Straughn and defending it against Ian Bulloch by KO 2. 

He was then matched against the reigning WBC-champion, Carlos "Sugar" DeLeon of Puerto Rico. Leon was already considered past his best at the age of 30. The fight even took place in Sheffield, 27 January 1990 in City Hall, but Nelson turned in a too passive and cautious performance and, in the end, he was denied the title in a draw. He became quite unpopular because of this, for a while anyway. At the end of that year, 14 December, he went to Germany to fight their hopeful, Markus Bott, for the vacant European title. He was victorious when he stopped Bott by TKO 12, who later tested positive for steroids. Next year, he defended the title against Yves Monsieur and won by RTD 8 in Mansfield, England. He then challenged for the IBF title against the champion and former kickboxer, James Warring. This time he had to go to USA and fought Warring in Bealton, Virginia, 16 May '92. He lost to the more experienced Warring by a wide UD.

Even worse, later that year, 14 August, he took on the French Cameroonian Norbert Ekassi, a hard-hitting warrior, in Ajaccio, Corsica. Although he put Ekassi down in the second round, he was himself knocked down in the third, after absorbing a lot of punches, and stopped. It would remain his only knockout loss. He then went up to heavyweight and went to South Africa to fight the unbeaten Corrie Sanders but lost to him by a wide UD 10. Next year on 30 April, he won the vacant WBF cruiser title by stopping Dave Russell by TKO 11. After defending it once successfully against Tom Collins by TKO 1, he lost it by a disqualification in 10 against Franco Wanyama, a Belgian-based fighter, in Waregem, Belgium, on 1 October. He then went back to heavyweight for a while and beat Jimmy Thunder to win the heavy version of the WBF title, on points. On 5 April '94, he fought the towering Henry Akinwande and dropped a decision to him in 10 rounds. 

After defending the WBF heavy title by Nikolay Kulpin on points, he lost it fighting away in Brazil against their only famous heavyweight, Adilson Rodrigues, on points, a split decision. It was on 22 August '95 and they had a rematch on 3 December, again in Brazil. This time the scorecards were a little closer but all in favour for Rodrigues. Nelson decided to return to cruisers again and recaptured the British title by stopping Dennis Andries in his last fight, by TKO 7, 14 December '96. He recaptured the European title as well in his next fight, against Patrice Aouissi in France, by TKO 7 also. After making one defence against Dirk Wallyn by TKO 1, he then FINALLY could challenge for a world title again. He faced Carl Thompson, the reigning WBO-champion, 27 March '99 at Derby Storm Arena in Derby.

Both men looked in splendid shape, but the taller and rangier Nelson was successful in counterpunching Thompson, simply bombing him out with his long lefts and rights. In round 2, Nelson staggered Thompson with several big shots but Thompson came back and landed some good shots of his own. Early in round 4, Nelson connected with a big right which put Thompson down. Nelson tried to finish him off, but the tough champion weathered the storm and made it to round 5, when he ran into several lefts and rights from Nelson, before the ref stopped the fight, somewhat prematurely but still not quite unreasonably. Nelson was the champion finally, after 13 years!!! 

Few would've thought his reign would be so long, however. As mentioned, he made 13 defences, most famously against Marcelo Fabian Dominguez (UD), Ezra Sellers (KO8), Guillermo Jones (D), Alexander Petkovic (MD) and Vincenzo Cantatore (SD). The Cantatore-fight was also his last, taking place 26 November '05 in Italy. He was supposed to fight Enzo Maccarinelli on 4 March 2006, at the undercard of Calzaghe vs Lacy, but picked up a knee injury in sparring before that and had to pull out. Now pushing 40, Nelson relinquished his title after 7 years and announced his retirement on 22 September 2006. His record is 45 wins, 29 by ko, 12 losses and 2 draws.

Of course, most of you know that he became a popular and famous TV persona in UK following his retirement and has appeared in many programs and documentaries. He also still leads the "Face to Face" documentary where he interviews fighters before a big fight. Early in 2007, Nelson announced he plans to come back to the ring and even said he wanted to fight David Haye, back then the hottest cruiserweight in the world. Luckily for him, he abandoned that idea and did not attempt a comeback. Johnny Nelson was a late bloomer who had physical attributes which he used well, plus he could hit hard and box well when needed. He was also rather tough-chinned and could take punishment pretty well. As a TV-persona, he has as many detractors as fans, but as a fighter, he was immensely popular in UK, especially while he was a champion.

Johnny Nelson

--- Thought Entertainer was the name of a British sleeping pill Boz. Thanks for the update💬

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Nice article.  🤙

 

Did you write this,   Boz?

 

I assume this is the same guy that often did (does?) fight commentary alongside Buncie, yes?

I never knew a thing about his fight career,  but I personally REALLY like him as a technical commentator.  I know a lot of fans don't like him for some reason, but I usually found myself agreeing with most of his comments, and really liked the technical aspects of them.  Not unlike Paulie M, in my opinion.  (Who is also, IMO, the best there is.)

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2 hours ago, Cableaddict said:

Nice article.  🤙

 

Did you write this,   Boz?

 

I assume this is the same guy that often did (does?) fight commentary alongside Buncie, yes?

I never knew a thing about his fight career,  but I personally REALLY like him as a technical commentator.  I know a lot of fans don't like him for some reason, but I usually found myself agreeing with most of his comments, and really liked the technical aspects of them.  Not unlike Paulie M, in my opinion.  (Who is also, IMO, the best there is.)

Of course I did. 😉 

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