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Remembering Harold Johnson, Light Heavyweight Champion

By Robert Brizel, Head Real Combat Media Boxing Correspondent

Harold Johnson is one of those Hall of Fame boxers remembered as extraordinary, because he was ordinary. Both Harold and his boxing father, 22-17 New Jersey heavyweight Phil Johnson, uniquely both lost to Jersey Joe Walcott, who went on to become the World Heavyweight champion. Harold battled Archie Moore five times, and finally claimed Moore’s world Light Heavyweight title when Moore was stripped for failing to defend it.

Harold Johnson figured into six light heavyweight world title bouts between 1954 and 1963. A native of Manayunk, Pennsylvania, Harold’s career professional record was an outstanding 76-11 with 32 knockouts between 1946 and 1971. Besides beating Archie Moore once, Harold defeated such notables as Ollie Wilson, Bert Whitehurst, Marty Marshall, Bob Satterfield, Sonny Ray, Eddie Machen Eddie Jones, Hank Casey, and Lohtar Stengel. In world title bouts, Harold defeated Eddie Cotton (Win 15), Jessie Bowdry (TKO 9), Von Clay (KO 2),Doug Jones (Win 15), and Gustav Scholz (Win 15).

In June 1963, Willie Pastrano won a split decision over Harold for the World Boxing Council and World Boxing Association World Light Heavyweight titles over 15 rounds. Harold never got another shot at a world title, winning seven of his last eight bouts.

Harold Johnson and Bob Foster, another former Hall of Fame World Light Heavyweight champion, share another unique distinction. Johnson, who decisioned Hershel Jacobs over 10 rounds in 1967, got stopped by Jacobs in three rounds in a failed comeback attempt in 1971. Foster, who stopped Bob Hazelton in the tenth round in 1977, was stopped in the second round of a rematch with Hazelton in 1978 in his failed comeback attempt. On February 15, 2015, Harold Johnson passed away at age 87. Foster, who fought in 15 world title bouts, and also fought Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier in heavyweight title bouts, is 77 years old today, and still lives in his native Albuquerque, New Mexico.

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