But finally the waiting would be over. On May 8 1993, after all those nothing fights, after too long in the sandpit with his toys, it was time to go to work. and Julian Jackson under the big lights in Las Vegas was what any fighter would call work. This was the sort of fight Gerakd wanted. And the venue. He had not been back to Vegas since 22 November 1988, and an abscene from the genuine big time of twenty five fights and nearly five years. He was back from the boardwalk. While it had taken him a few minutes work in the ring along the way to get there, there was a lot of spare time packed in a round the ring time.
The fourth round was eventful. then came the fifth, one of the best rounds of boxing in 1993. Jackson hit McClellan low, Gerald took a knee but declined the offer of a long rest by the referree Mills Lane. 'I coulda taken five minutes to recover,' Gerald told Showtime, 'and Jackson was lookin' at me, getting stronger and stronger, so I figured the sooner I get up the better. When I got up he came right at me, stood right in front of me. That's when I caught him with the right hand and two left hooks.'
Beautiful boxing skills, perfectly applied pressure in a big championship bout at a venue where it mattered. This exchange should have informed the unknowing that McClellan was an elite fighter, a genuine world class champion, in any era.
Gerald hit Juilan with a sickening right, he went down, it was over.
This was a pivotal fight in the boxing entertainment business that year. Gerald had a stoppage rate of 91.8 per cent. unmatched in the upper echelons of marketable boxing. He could not be denied from here on. And he liked the way it felt to be the gruesome hitter his middleweight peers wanted to avoid.
It felt good to have a belt again, a proper belt. Now he wanted the money. But, as with any deal involving King, there would be drama.The King clan didn't like Gerald, they thought he was getting ****y, getting up in the ring and wanting to keep all that money to himself. Gerald didn't want no one to steal from him. He wanted to make all the money. He wanted to be like Sugar Ray Leonard and Muhammad Ali. Stan said to Gerald,'Gerald, you can't have it like that, you need to pay some kinda dues first.'
Gerald couldn't wait. He was chasing Jones. That would make his career. To get to Jones he'd have to go through Benn first. But he didn't think that would be a problem.
For Gerald, nothing was a problem
Gerlad was so confident, he reckoned he should do the job in three rounds, regardless of the opponent. 'I don't see the fight going no more than three rounds,' he told the promoters of the engagement against Baptist. 'Three rounds gives me enough time to box, to feel him out, through the guard. You know, three rounds is enough for any fight to go.' By now nobody doubtd his ability to knock people out quickly. The only question was what would happen should he come across someone who could take him past hree rounds, take him the distance again, like Milton and Ward? I wonder if that thought worried McClellan even then?
Right now that didn't matter. Geralds biggest fight was not with his opponent but with his trainer. His local newspaper, the Standard-Journal, reported that Gerald wanted no more of Manny Steward after this one. I looked like the old Kronk dilemma: too many fighters for one star trainer.
Manny would dress up his non-appearence for the Baptist fight, saying he wanted Willie Brown to get TV exposure, that he didn't think Baptist was much of a threat anyway. Gerald figured, though, that Steward was not paying him enough attention. Or respect. He was not the first fighter to feel that way. Or the last.
Gerald's didn't see it so amicably when interviewed in center ring. King wrapped an arm around the G-Man, like a farmer petting his prize bull. 'I trained the hardest I ever trained,' said McClellan, 'seven and a half weeks. Everybody thought I had a problem makin' weight, but I got it off, like, two weeks ago, real easy. I felt good out there, strong. And thanks to my man right here, Willie Brown, for stickin with me, puttin up with my attitude for the whole time.'
Asked about Steward
- OR RATHER INFORMED BY PACHECO THAT MANNY SAYS THEY'RE STILL MANAGER AND FIGHTER, STILL FRIENDS - GERLAD HELD IT TOGETHER. ''wELL, I'M NOT GONNA CRITICISE nobody on national television, you know, coz I'm a better man than that. But, you know, if it's up to Emmanuel, we work something out, and I keep doin' what I did tonight.'
Gilbert Baptist, a nice man by everyones account, went back to being a probation offer in San Diego.