Julian Jackson – “The Hawk”: A Biography! 

Julian Jackson
Date of Birth:September 12th 1960
Place of Birth:Saint Thomas, United States – Virgin Islands
Nationality: United States
Residence/Home Town, Gym(s): Las Vegas
Location: Nevada
Promoter: Don King
Trainer: Aaron Snowell, Abel Sanchez
Boxing Career: Amateur, Professional
Nicknames: The Hawk
Height: 5 Ft 11 inches. 182cm
Reach: 73 inches. 185cm
Stance: Orthodox
Weights Class: Light middleweight, Middleweight
Professional Record: Total Fights: 61, Wins: 55, Wins by KO: 49, Losses: 6
Draws 0, No contests 0
Notable Fights: Julian Jackson vs Mike McCallum, Julian Jackson vs Baek In-Chul, Julian Jackson vs Terry Norris, Julian Jackson vs Herold Graham, Julian Jackson vs Dennis Milton, Julian Jackson vs Gerald McClellan I and II.


Julian Jackson is a former professional boxer who was born in St Thomas, the U.S Virgin Islands, fought part of his amateur career in San Juan, Puerto Rico, before basing himself out of Las Vegas, Nevada -as his home town- and from where he fought out of.

During nearly two decades (1981-1998) competing as a professional Julian Jackson would become a three time world champion in two different weight classes. Holding:

  • The WBA Super welterweight title from 1987 to 1990
  • The WBC Middleweight title twice between 1990 and 1995

Julian Jackson: Style

Though Julian Jackson was not totally one dimensional when it came to the technical aspects of the “Queensberry Rules”, trying to categorise his style is largely an exercise in futility for it is always overshadowed by one word: POWER!

Brutal, formidable, destructive, ‘one-punch’ and possibly the most evocatively accurate – ‘concussive’ have all been used to describe just how hard Julian Jackson hit. Indeed, with a ‘knockout-to-win’ ratio standing at 89%, the only thing that surprises this writer about The Ring magazine’s (2003) rating him the 25th ‘pound for pound’ hardest puncher in boxing history, is that he wasn’t 26 places higher!

Early Life and Amateur Career

In an interview with boxing insider Julian Jackson admitted to a relatively uneventful introduction to boxing and a short amateur career

I was about fourteen. A friend of mine got involved in it and I just followed him. I ended up loving it and the rest is history. I had a short amateur career, seventeen fights, won fifteen”.

*Nb the highlight of Julian Jacksons amateur career may possibly have been him representing the United States, Virgin Islands at the 1979 Pan American Games. Even though he would lose in his first fight to Jose Baret of the Dominican Republic

Without doubt however the nadir of Julian Jackson’s amateur career occurred when the U.S pulled out of the 1980 Olympics in Moscow and thereby deprived Julian Jackson his dream of representing the Virgin Island (and likely shining) on the biggest stage of all.  

Professional Debut & Punching Power!

Julian Jackson made his professional debut on the 2nd of February, 1981 in San Juan, Puerto Rico against Inocencio Carmona. It was to be one of the very few fights Julian Jackson would win on points – doing so here over four rounds. Indeed, such was the nature of Julian Jackson career, the score cards would only be used once more over the next 15 years and 36 fights! as Julian Jackson blasted his was though opponents quite literally left, right and centre. The old boxing adage that

“Punches are born not made.”

seldom as singularly personified than when referring to Julian Jackson who himself commented to RingTV.com: It’s something you are born with,” when asked about the first time he knew he had fight-ending power, adding

“I remember as an amateur and the first time I threw a punch was against a professional and I knocked him down. I was about 17 or 18 (years old). I caught him with a right hand. That was the first time I realised I had natural power”. 

Julian Jackson’s coach agreed, advising the youngster ‘that he didn’t have to try and hit hard…all he needed to do was throw the punch and the natural ability would click in’.

Early Fights.

After his professional debut Julian Jacksons next opponents would mostly not be so fortunate or last as long. Jackson would win his next 28 of 29 fights by knockout. William Page the only fighter able to survive the Jackson onslaught until the judges scorecards unanimously rescued him after 6 rounds – albeit handing him a merciful defeat in doing so.  

Initially those unfortunate enough to feel the early power of Julian Jackson were mostly from Puerto Rico where Jackson lived for a short time. Rafael Ayala, Marcelino Flores and Edwin Rodriguez all failing to the hear the bell for the end of the second round! Reyes Escalera in his home town of St Thomas doing slightly better in making it to the third.

Spectacular highlights of these and other ‘age restricted’ knockouts, as well as Julian Jackson’s career in general can be seen in the following documentary which is best watched after reading this article

Changes country – not much changes!

On the 26th of September 1981, Julian Jackson would start to fight in the USA with a bout against Dario De Asa at the Miami Beach, Convention Center Florida. A change of country (primarily done to escape the gang violence of the Caribbean Islands and his home town of St Thomas) would not however affect the outcome or the delivery method: De Asa was knocked out in the third round.

Unfortunately due to the majority of Julian Jackson’s first fights occurring on non televised shows there is little footage of his first 30 fights outside a few scarce pieces of media and sadly they remain little more than statistics. Within the boxing world however Julian Jackson was making a name for himself with his absolutely devastating ‘one punch’ punching power latterly being compared to Mike Tyson’s. Similarly as it also could be delivered from either hand. Indeed if you watch the YouTube video(s) later you will see Julian Jackson literally knock people across rings, through ropes and even upwards and backwards off their feet.

Julian Jackson until he suffered his first defeat in 1986 just literally steam rolled through the division, with a record of 29 wins 0 losses and 27KO’s. Moreover, take a more detailed look at his record you will see that most came in the very early rounds.


First Professional Loss

Given Julian Jackson initially obliterated all before him, two things were not readily discernible until after he suffered his first loss against Mike ‘the body snatcher’ McCallum on the 23rd of August 1986.

Firstly due to a limited amateur career as well as a lack of ‘ring minutes’ Julian Jackson for a boxer with so many fights behind his belt, was very short on experience.

Secondly, it seemed apparent that Julian Jackson’s chin did not have the same granite in it that his fists did.

Taking a look at the highlights of the fight which was for McCallum’s WBA World Super Welterweight Title. Both factors seemed rather apparent. 

Julian Jackson’s tactic of trying to ‘bum rush’ the undefeated Champion who was 26-0-0 and had punching power of his own an experience he would have to learn from after he succumbed to a stoppage defeat in only the second round.

First Title

Learn from it however Jackson would, when he was given a very early second shot at the now vacant WBA title after Mike McCallum moved up to the Middleweight division. Julian Jackson matched against respected South Korean boxer In Chul Baek (41-1) at the Las Vegas Hilton Outdoor Arena on the 21st of November 1987, proving more cautious in his approach but in the end reverting to what he always did best; taking a boxer (who would go on to win the WBA super middleweight title just a year later) apart quickly with just phenomenal punching power.


3 Title Defences, 3 Knockout Punches!

After calling out everyone from James Toney to Roy Jones Jr, Julian Jackson would make three defences of his crown against the higher quality of opposition he craved and in doing so gain some of the exposure he so desired.

Former IBF title holder Buster Drayton was the first to be enticed to take up Jackson’s challenge and was disposed of inside of three rounds with one of the most brutal one punch knockouts you are ever likely to see. Julian Jackson pointing to the floor on doing so as if he had just fallen a tree!

Brazilian, Francisco de Jesus would follow similarly by one punch knockout in round 8.


Whilst future four time champion and International Boxing Hall of Fame member “Terrible” Terry Norris would also be sent to sleep on his feet (and then the canvass) with a single punch in only the second round.

Norris’ trainer Abel Sanchez telling Julian Jackson with whom he would work years later

“You didn’t have to hit him a second time – the first punch knocked him out.’ 

Julian Jackson’s response

“I had to make sure because that is Terry Norris and he is a good fighter and I wanted to make sure he stayed down.”

Moves up to Middleweight

Following those three destructive defences, there was little left for Julian Jackson to prove at Light middleweight and even fewer fighters who fancied proving themselves against him! so Julian Jackson vacated his crown (after two early non title bout knockouts) in 1990 and moved up to the Middleweight division.

The British fighter, Herol ‘Bomber’ Graham was waiting for him as was the vacant WBC Middleweight title. Initially scheduled to take place in the UK, the fight was rescheduled for the 24th November, 1990 in Benalmadena, Andalucia, Spain after the British Boxing Board of Control refused to sanction it in the UK, due to Julian Jackson’s recent retina surgery on his eyes. 

Herol Graham was an accomplished and savvy fighter, viewed as one of the best in the division. Moreover, as a Southpaw he was expected to give Julian Jackson problems with his ability to slip punches, counter and dance his way out of trouble and indeed that’s exactly what happened for the first three and a half rounds. The problem was, that when facing someone of Julian Jackson outrageous power it only takes a split second before the lights can quite literally get ‘turned out’ no matter how well you boxed previously. And so it came to pass: Julian Jackson unleashed one of the best right hands in boxing history 

and left Herol Graham quite literally unconscious before he hit the canvas, and alarmingly so for a further five minutes before he was revived.

*Nb. Herol Graham was never knocked out before or after that devastating blow by Julian Jackson.

Middleweight defences

Concerns Jackson’s power might have been mitigated in any shape or form with his move up to becoming a two divisional Champion were further allayed when he defended his title and knocked out Dennis Milton in round 1, Ismael Negron also in round 1 and Ron Collins by TKO in round 5. Thomas Tate would be the first man ever to take Julian Jackson to the scorecards in a title bout with Jackson winning by unanimous decision, leading to Tate actually celebrating his achievement of survival enthusiastically on the floor in his corner!

Julian Jackson vs Gerald McClellan

Under Don King, who promoted 10 of Julian Jackson’s 13 title fights, Jackson would next find himself in the ring against another big hitting ‘bomber’, Gerald McClellan. With McClellan 27-2 (25) on a 10 fight knockout streak and Jackson on a 17 fight winning run, an explosive fight was expected at the Thomas & Mack Centre, Las Vegas on the 8th of May, 1993. Few were disappointed!

Julian Jackson recalling in an interview with “boxing insider” afterwards

“…McClellan was a bomber like myself and we both had good power. And the one who was gonna connect first was probably gonna win the fight. From round one on up until that punch I was winning. I think I got careless and just dropped my right hand. I didn’t see the punch. He caught me on the chin and that was that. My trainer was telling me that his legs were going …I got overconfident and got hit.”

Possibly slightly bias but still a reasonably fair appraisal of an electric fight.

Julian Jackson vs Gerald McClellan II

Julian Jackson would rebound by winning his next 3 fights to earn himself another shot at McClellan and the title in May 1994. Jackson’s problems of old resurfaced however and came back to haunt him in an extremely short fight.

Jackson’s suspect chin hit early in the fight, combined with a lack of ‘ring wiliness’ saw Jackson fail to go down and ultimately get mauled inside of a round. Had he gone down and taken a breather, with the power he possessed who knows what could have happened.

Champion for a Third Time

Following his victory of over Julian Jackson, Gerald McClellan would vacate his title and move up to Super-middleweight. This would give Jackson another opportunity to reign as WBC Middleweight champion, which he took by beating the then undefeated European champion Agostino Cardamone 23-0-0 on the 17th March, 1985 in what sadly by now was viewed as a bit of an upset.

Julian Jackson overcoming a shaky start in the first round before managing to land one of his bombs in the second which saw referee Marty Deakin see fit to stop the fight and give credence to that other boxing adage “the last thing a fighter loses is his power”

Jackson was now a three time world champion, but unfortunately his best days were largely behind him. He would lose the title in his first defence to Quincy Taylor in August 1995, by sixth round stoppage after tearing his rotator cuff during the fight and looked a shadow of the monster that had terrified fighters in the middleweight divisions for nearly 15 years.

Final Fights and Retirement.

Julian Jackson amassed four more low-key victories, from his last 6 fights  prior to ending his career with losses to Verno Phillips and Anthony Jones, in 1988.

After retiring from the sport, Jackson (a devout christian) joined the ministry and returned to live in his birthplace of St. Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. There Jackson would help the local boxing community as a trainer and coach. Julian Jackson would also train his three sons, Julius Jackson, Julian Jackson Jr. and John Jackson, who have all competed as professionals although they have failed to make the impact their father did.

Admiration & Accolades

Julian Jackson will forever ever go down as one of the greatest knockout artists of all time. He would perhaps like it stated for the record though that he considered himself more than just a ‘bomber’. Indeed to paraphrase the man, he saw himself ‘not so much a bomber, but more of a boxer puncher who could do almost anything in the ring’.

During his career, Julian Jackson won 55 out of 61 fights – 49 by knockout, leaving him with a KO ratio of 80%. There are boxers out there with better KO ratios but if you take a look at the following highlights real which showcases some very rare footage,

With the exception of Mike Tyson, does anyone else spring to mind in so far as your concern was – not whether the fighter would make the count, but whether he was seriously injured or even dead. 

Julian Jacksons official record is available to view here. 

Additionally it is also worth mentioning:

  • Julian Jackson was a descendent of uncrowned Heavyweight champion  Peter Jackson.
  • Julian Jackson’s nickname ‘The Hawk” is a homage to two fighters: The ‘Cuban Hawk’ Kid Gavilan and Aryon ‘The Hawk’ Pryor.
  • Only two middleweights rated higher than Julian Jackson in The Ring’s “100 Greatest punches of all time”: Stanley ‘The Michigan Assassin’ Ketchel 51-4 (48) & Sugar Ray Robinson 117-19-6 (108)!
  • The Ring Magazine rated Julian Jackson as the No. 1 Junior middleweight in the world in 1989.
  • The Ring Magazine rated Julian Jackson as the No. 1 Middleweight in the world in 1992.
  • Julian Jackson’s only real regret was that he was never involved in a mega fight and that Sugar Ray Leonard opted to fight Terry Norris instead of him after promising to fight the winner of their bout.

Julian Jackson was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2019.

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