Julian “The Hawk” Jackson: A Two-Division Champ & KO Artist
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Julian “The Hawk” Jackson: A Two-Division Champ & KO Artist
By Ken Hissner, Doghouse Boxing (May 13, 2014)

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Julian “The Hawk” Jackson
The nickname “Hawk” is related to 3 great boxers. First the “Cuban Hawk” Kid Gavilan, 108-30-5 who fought from 1943 to 1958 and became welterweight champion. His bolo punch helped to revolutionize the sport. From 1976 to 1990 when you heard “it’s Hawk Time” you knew Aaron “The Hawk” Pryor, 39-1 (35), was entering the ring! This light welterweight champion upon being introduced he would make the tomahawk right hand motion toward his opponent! Finally from a small US island near Puerto Rico came Julian “The Hawk” Jackson!

Jackson was born in the Virgin Islands and a decendent to uncrowned heavyweight champion Peter Jackson. He was listed as the No. 25 hardest puncher in Ring Magazine’s 100 Greatest Punchers of All-Time! Only 2 middleweights ranked higher than he did named Stanley “The Michigan Assassin” Ketchel, 51-4 (48) and “Sugar Ray” Robinson, 173-19-6 (108)!

Jackson held the WBA light middleweight title and twice the WBC middleweight titles. He was without doubt the most devastating puncher at his weight in modern times! He turned professional at the age of 20 with a 15-2 amateur record in February of 1981 in San Juan, PR, winning a 4 round decision. He won his next 5 fights by knockout including a bout in St. Thomas, VI. In that 6th fight he made his US debut in Miami Beach, FL, in a scheduled 8 round bout scoring a 3rd round knockout.

Jackson’s knockout streak ran to 16 straight when he knocked out the former WBA light middleweight champion Eddie Gazo, who at the time was 43-11-2, and ended Gazo’s career! Two fights later Jackson won his first title stopping Ron Lee Warrior, 13-3-1, for the WBC Continental Americas light middleweight championship, a title he would defend 5 times.

Jackson made his Madison Square Garden debut in May of 1986 with a 2nd round stoppage of Derrick Drane, 14-5, bringing his record to 29-0 with 27 knockouts! His knockout streak was up to 22 since winning his second decision in his 7th fight in Atlantic City, NJ, in March of 1982.

This set the stage for Jackson’s first world challenge some 3 months later in Miami Beach against the WBA light middleweight champ Mike “The Body Snatcher” McCallum, 26-0 (23) from Kingston, Jamaica, living in New York City. A combination of 55-0 with 50 knockouts between them! How more dramatic could this be?

Jackson upon being announced would throw out the straight right warning to his opponent. Not the tomahawk like Pryor. He walked swiftly across the ring and threw a right hand that knocked McCallum against the ropes. He was immediately pulled into a clinch. McCallum threw a low left without warning from referee Eddie Eckert. With about 1 minute left in the round McCallum landed a low right to the upper thigh of Jackson without warning as Jackson countered with a right to the head.

With half a minute to go in the round a McCallum low left met with the first warning of the round. Another low left came without warning before a warning for holding behind the back of the head. A low right brought a warning with 15 seconds to go in the round. That was 3 low blows without and 2 low blows with warnings along with a warning for holding behind the head all in the first round. No wonder McCallum is called “The Body Snatcher”!

To start the second round the first solid punch was a right from Jackson to the head of McCallum. The first left low blow came from McCallum without warning. McCallum threw a right hand to the left side of Jackson’s head while the latter’s hands were up and a follow-up short left that seemed to fall short onto the shoulder of Jackson causing while he was falling to the canvas. He was up but obviously shaken.

McCallum came in for the finish driving Jackson to the ropes. A combination rattled the head of Jackson. He was able to get away to another area of the ring along the ropes after receiving 3 more left hooks. McCallum landed some 5 low blows along with a number of punches, some blocked. A left hook at the end of 4 previous punches drove Jackson into the referee with 1:10 left in the round. Jackson backed into the ropes while McCallum threw 5 more punches with Jackson only landing 1.

Jackson threw a combination missing with a left but landed the right. McCallum landed an uppercut left followed by a left hook to the head. While the referee was stepping forward McCallum landed several weak left hooks. Referee Eckert jumped in and to Jackson’s amazement waved off the fight at 2:03 of the 2nd round. Jackson threw his arms in the air in bewilderment. Yes, he was hurt but enough to stop the fight? The crowd was very disappointed by the stoppage.

In Jackson’s second fight back against Milton Leaks, 13-4, he came off the canvas to score a stoppage in the 10th round. “I got up and was able to stop him. I felt I was at my best,” said Jackson. It would be 7 months before he would get a shot at the vacant WBA light middle title against the No. 1 contender Korea’s In-Chul Baek, 41-1 (36). In the 1st round after getting tagged by a short left hook Jackson landed one of his own as Baek tried grabbing the ropes to break his fall but it didn’t quite work as he hit the canvas. He was up immediately.

In the 3rd round Jackson came out southpaw with both fighters landing at the same time, a Jackson right hook and a Baek right hand. It was Baek getting the worst of it as he was driven backwards. An overhand right by Jackson rocked Baek into the ropes. He followed up with several combinations until a left hook dropped Baek causing referee Mills Lane to wav it off when Baek got to his feet. “This was one of the easiest fights I had,” said Jackson. Baek later in his career would win the WBA super middle title.

Jackson would face former WBA light middle champ Buster Drayton, 33-10-1, of Philadelphia, in Atlantic City. The 1st round was mostly Jackson working the body of Drayton. In the 2nd round Drayton landed a looping left hook. Later in the round Jackson got away with holding the back of Drayton’s head and landing a right hand to the chin dropping Drayton. Up almost immediately Drayton flashed that familiar smile of his for the first time in the fight.

The fight turns into a war with Jackson landing body shots and chopping rights to the head. Drayton fought back, landing a pair of left hooks to the chin of Jackson. In the last 20 seconds of the fight both fighters are teeing off on one another. In the 3rd round Jackson lands a dozen unanswered punches. Drayton fights back until Jackson lands a 3-punch combination.

Drayton landed a good left hook to the head of Jackson. Jackson returns with a chopping right to the chin of Drayton. He follows with a dozen punches before Drayton who is covering up throws a punch. With about 20 seconds left in the round Jackson goes from left hooks to the body to right hands to the head.

With just over 10 seconds to go in the round Jackson lands a crushing left hook knocking Drayton hard onto the canvas on his back. He attempts to get to his feet but falls forward as the referee calls a halt at 2:57 of the 3rd round causing the ring physicians to rush into the ring. Jackson falls to his knees in victory raising his hands toward the heavens.

After knocking out South American champion Brazil’s Francisco DeJesus, 26-2, in 8 rounds in Las Vegas in February of 1989 Jackson takes on the NABF champion “Terrible” Terry Norris, 21-2, in July. Jackson chases the counter punching Norris halfway through the 2nd round backing him against the ropes then landing a crushing right that may have had Norris momentarily out, followed by a left hook and another right as Norris hit the canvas face down. He somehow manages to beat the count only to be waved off by referee Joe Cortez at 1:33 of the 2nd round. Norris would go onto win his next 15 fights including the WBC light middleweight title that he would defend some 10 times.

Jackson would go 10 months without fighting before stepping up to the middleweights and scored a pair of knockouts. The second one was against Wayne Powell, 18-2-1, who was landing some good rights to the head of Jackson. He then threw a left hook that landed short on the shoulder of Jackson who stepping to his left countered with a vicious right hand that knocked Powell out cold!

Jackson cancelled a fight before fighting southpaw and British champ Herol “Bomber” Graham, 43-2, to repair a detached retina. Jackson fought for the vacant WBC middle title in Andalucia, SP, against Graham, who had lost a split decision the year before to McCallum for the WBA title. “He was tricky and awkward,” said Jackson. The southpaw Graham was winning this fight after 3 rounds. “He was beating me to the punch. Referee Joe Cortez came to my corner and warned me if I didn’t do something in this round he was going to stop the fight,” said Jackson.

In the 4th round at one point Graham spun Jackson around and landed a right hand from behind before referee Joe Cortez could get into separate the fighters. It would be a matter of seconds with Jackson’s back to the ropes a lead chopping right fell Graham like a tree. He was out for close to 5 minutes.

After scoring a pair of 1st round knockouts over Dennis Milton, 16-2-1, and Ismael Negron, 16-8-1, in Las Vegas, Jackson traveled to Mexico City, and stopped southpaw Ron Collins, 21-1, in 5 for his 15th straight knockout! In August of 1992 Jackson defended his title for the 4th time against Thomas Tate, 24-1, in Las Vegas.

In the 4th round Jackson scored a knockdown over Tate landing a left hook, a right cross and a right uppercut. In the 5th round Jackson had Tate hurt at the midway point. Tate came back to dominate the rest of the round hurting Jackson. The fans were on their feet for the last half of the round. The two fighters picked up where they left off in the previous round with Tate once again getting the better of the two.

In the 7th it was Jackson doing the chasing with swelling starting under an eye of Tate. In the 10th both fighters were rocked near the end of the round. Same happened in the 12th round. Both fighters were exhausted at the end of a great fight! Though the scoring was wide for Jackson the fans seemed mixed with the result.

In May of 1993 the former WBO middle champ Kronk’s Gerald “The G-Man” McClellan, 27-2 (25), was on a 10 fight knockout streak and Jackson had won 17 straight with only the Tate fight going the distance. Near the end of the 2nd round Jackson had McClellan hurt. Again in the 3rd a long lead right rocked McClellan. Jackson suffered a cut on the bridge of his nose from an accidental head butt though referee Mills Lane took away a point from McClellan.

In the 5th round Jackson landed several low blows. The first a warning and the second a 5 min break for McClellan. Suddenly a right hand hurt Jackson while McClellan followed it with 2 left hooks and down went Jackson. Up but still hurt Jackson was greeted with a right hand and going down a left hook landing on his knees.

It would be almost a year to the day when the rematch was set. McClellan came right out after Jackson and nailed him with a big right hand. He drove him to the ropes and landed over a dozen punches before Jackson landed one in return. He drove Jackson into the corner when referee Joe Cortez came in and gave Jackson a standing count. A left hook to the side and a chopping right hand knocked Jackson down again.

Jackson may have beat the count but the referee wisely waved it off at 1:23 of the 1st round. “I had injured the 5th vertebrae in my back sparring in PR. A specialist told me to cancel the fight. I take nothing away from McClellan for he was a tremendous puncher,” said Jackson. For McClellan he would be stopped in his next fight by Nigel Benn and be permanently injured never fighting again.

Jackson came back 7 months later in December of 1994 and stopped Ecuador’s Luis Buitron, 25-2, in the 3rd round in Quito, ECU. This earned him a vacant WBC title fight against Italy’s southpaw Agostino Cardamone, 23-0, the European champ. It was stopped in the 2nd round. This was at Worcester, MASS in March of 1995.

Jackson defended his newly won title 5 months later against southpaw Quincy Taylor, 25-3, in Las Vegas. The fight was stopped at 2:33 of the 6th round by referee Jay Nady. “I tore the rotator cuff in my left arm,” said Jackson. He would be inactive for 13 months returning to win 4 fights over a 13 month period.

In January of 1998 Jackson challenged Verno Phillips, 29-7-1, for his WBU title at light middleweight in Tunica, MS, and was knocked out in 9 rounds. Just 4 months later he lost to Kronk southpaw Anthony “Mr.” Jones, 38-8-2, in Auburn Hills, MI in 9 rounds retiring at the age of 37. He has said the only thing he may have changed in his career was a different promoter. Not Don King? He was 11-0 in PR, 4-0 in the VI and 18-3 in NV.

Jackson went into the seminary and joined the ministry in the VI and was VP of the Amateur Boxing Association while coaching the National team that his sons Julius and John were on. Both qualified for the 2008 Olympics. Julius lost in his first bout and John in his second. Today both are professionals. Julius “The Chef” is 17-0 (13), in the super middle division while John is 18-1 (15), a year younger at 25. John fights for vacant NABF light middle title June 7th in NY against Andy Lee who is from Ireland and somehow qualified for NABF title along with never fighting under 158 ½ and No. 5 in the WBC ratings at middle? Jackson is No. 5 WBC at light middle. In the NABF ratings Jackson is No. 6 and Lee No. 7.

This writer had the pleasure of meeting Jackson March 8th of 2013 at Resorts Casino in Atlantic City when his son John boxed that night stopping Alexis Pena in the first round! Julian Jackson was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 2006. He is more than qualified for the IBHOF but has yet to be inducted.

Ken Hissner responds to all his emails at: kenhissner@gmail.com

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