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Jesse Ferguson (born March 20, 1957) is a retired American boxer who fought in several noteworthy boxing matches in the 1980s and 1990s. His professional career is filled with matches with champions and contenders and his name is linked with numerous boxing stars of the '80s and '90s.

Jesse Ferguson
Real nameJesse Ferguson
Nickname(s)"The Boogieman"
Height6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Reach77 in (196 cm)
Born (1957-03-20) March 20, 1957 (age 62)
Boxing record
Total fights44
Wins by KO16

Early yearsEdit

Ferguson grew up in rural Knightdale, North Carolina, one of 13 children of a tobacco farm workers William and Jesse Ferguson.[1]

Military serviceEdit

Ferguson took up boxing at the age of 22, while serving with the U.S. Marines.[1]

Professional careerEdit

After an amateur career in the early 80s, Ferguson turned pro in 1983 at the age of 25. He had 10 straight wins (all by knockout), the most notable being a 4-round knockout of Reggie Gross. To supplement his meager boxing earnings, Jesse Ferguson was working as a construction worker and a security guard.[1]

This earned him a place in ESPN's 1985 Young Heavyweight tournament. He made a debut with a 4-round knockout of Richard Scott, and followed it up in the semi-finals with a 10-round points win where he outpunched James "Buster" Douglas, a fight that would become more significant over the years, as Douglas went on to upset Mike Tyson in 1990 and win the undisputed heavyweight championship of the world. In the final he took on Tony Anthony and knocked him out in the 10th round, earning himself a world ranking.

His success was short-lived however. He was matched up with Carl "The Truth" Williams, who was himself coming off a disputed 15-round points loss to Larry Holmes. Williams' experience won out, as he climbed off the floor twice to knock out Ferguson in 10 rounds.

Ferguson was employed as a sparring partner for Mike Tyson, Razor Ruddock, Lennox Lewis, and Michael Moorer.[1]

Tyson fightEdit

In a theme that would continue throughout his long career, Ferguson was matched tough in his next fight. In 1986 he took on prospect Mike Tyson who was 17-0, and making his national television debut. Tyson broke Ferguson's nose in the fifth round with an uppercut, sending him to the canvas. Referee Luis Rivera disqualified Ferguson in the next round, for what he deemed "excessive holding." The local commission later changed the result to a "TKO" for Tyson.


From this point on Ferguson became a part-time boxer, finding it difficult to find meaningful fights but used regularly by all the top contenders as a sparring partner, who preferred training with him than risking fighting him. In 1987 he fought only once, on the undercard of the Tyson/Tucker fight, knocking out ex-contender George Chaplin, sending him into retirement. In 1988 he fought 22-0 Orlin Norris for his NABF belt. Norris was a fast-rising prospect with slick skills and some big wins under his belt already. Ferguson's ring rust showed as he was outpointed over 12 dull rounds.

It may be said that by this point Ferguson's heart was no longer fully in the game. By the time he fought Oliver McCall in 1991, he had only had one fight in three years, a 6-round kayo of Terry Armstrong in 1990. Although rusty and overweight, Ferguson appeared to get the better of McCall. However Ferguson had been relegated to 'trial horse' status and McCall was given the decision. Three years later in 1994, McCall would knockout Lennox Lewis in two rounds to become heavyweight champion of the world. In 1992 he took on Bruce Seldon where an indifferent Ferguson retired after five rounds with an eye injury. Three years later, Seldon would win the vacant WBA heavyweight title.

Ferguson dropped decisions to two ex-world champions, Michael "Dynamite" Dokes and Tony "TNT" Tubbs, but in 1993 would see a turnaround of his fortunes.

Upset, controversy and title shotEdit

On February 6, 1993, Ferguson fought on the untelevised undercard of an HBO event at Madison Square Garden in New York. Ferguson was signed to fight Ray Mercer, a former World Boxing Organization world Heavyweight champion, in what was actually a heavyweight title eliminator but was regarded by many as a tune up for Mercer for a potential second shot at a world championship. The winner of the bout was to face the winner of the main event between reigning WBA and IBF champion Riddick Bowe and former champion Michael Dokes for the titles at a future date. Ferguson, however, defied the odds and defeated an underprepared Mercer by a unanimous decision to earn his shot against Bowe, who knocked out Dokes in the first round.

The win over Mercer proved controversial as Mercer was later investigated for allegedly trying to bribe Ferguson to let Mercer win the bout.[2]

The fight was signed for May 22, 1993, and was staged at RFK Stadium in Washington, DC. Ferguson came into the fight below 230 pounds for the first time in years and was considered to be in the best shape of his career. Because the IBF did not consider Ferguson to be a legitimate contender, they would not sanction the defense for Bowe and only the WBA and lineal championships were on the line. Ferguson thought he had a legitimate chance to knock the champion out, but Bowe disregarded his boasts. Ferguson was knocked down toward the end of the first round and barely made it back to his feet at the bell, then was dropped again as the second round began and knocked out.

Remainder of pro careerEdit

Despite the defeat, Ferguson was back in the ring shortly afterwards. He was matched against Mercer yet again, who this time came in shape at 223. Although the fight was closer, Ferguson still appeared to outpunch Mercer and get the better of him. Once again Ferguson was on the wrong end of a close decision as Mercer was awarded a split decision that was even jeered by his hometown crowd at Atlantic City. In 1994 Ferguson travelled to the U.K. to fight Frank Bruno, who was returning after his loss to Lennox Lewis. The overweight Ferguson collapsed in one round in a passionless performance. A year later Bruno would outpoint Oliver McCall and win the WBC heavyweight title.

In his only other fight in 1994 Ferguson was matched with Larry Holmes, the 44-year-old former great who was on another comeback trail. Ferguson despite being out of shape had Holmes reeling in the second, and appeared to get the best of the ex-champ. Yet again Ferguson was on the wrong side of the points decision, and even the New York Times reported it as: "A robbery. Larry Holmes came off second-best against Jesse Ferguson." By 1995 Ferguson was frequently out of shape and made little effort in his fights. He had Jeremy Williams out on his feet but quit in the 7th with a swollen eye. He dropped Alex Stewart twice but was denied the decision. He did nothing against Danell Nicholson and pulled out after 8 rounds. In all three fights he looked distinctly uninterested.

Return to formEdit

In 1996 he was hired as chief sparring partner for champion Mike Tyson in the lead-up to his fight with Bruce Seldon. It was during this time, with a little encouragement from Team Tyson, Ferguson began to realise he was better than he gave himself credit for.

He returned late in 1996, now aged 39, and beat undefeated Bobby Harris. He followed this up with two more wins before a high-profile fight on HBO with Tongan Samson Po'uha, in 1997. He decked Po'uha several times before knocking him out in the 8th round.

This led to another big fight on HBO in 1998, where a now 40-year-old Ferguson took on young and undefeated powerful punching contender Hasim Rahman for the USBA belt. Ferguson lost by decision. Rahman would go on to defeat Lennox Lewis and become the Heavyweight Champion of the World.

Ferguson followed up the Rahman fight with a 10-round decision win over ex-cruiserweight champ Tyrone Booze. He then took on Obed Sullivan, ranked No. 4 in the world, and won an upset decision.

In 1999 Jimmy Thunder, citing an injury, dropped out of a fight with Polish contender Andrew Golota. Ferguson was tapped as Thunder's replacement and accepted the bout on short notice; he lost the fight by decision.

After this loss Ferguson's manager handed him back his contract and stopped answering his calls. Ferguson could no longer find fights. His career ended in 1999 with a record of 26-18-0 with 16 knockouts.

Ferguson spoke of comebacks in 2000 and 2002 but each time nothing came of them. He complained of being "blackballed" by the boxing establishment.

Professional boxing recordEdit

26 Wins (16 knockouts, 10 decisions), 18 Losses (7 knockouts, 11 decisions) [1]
Result Record Opponent Type Round Date Location Notes
Loss 26-18   Andrew Golota UD 10 30/01/1999   Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States 89-100, 89-100, 90-99.
Win 26-17   Obed "The Fighting Marine" Sullivan SD 10 08/12/1998   New York City, United States 96-94, 96-94, 94-96.
Win 25-17   Tyrone Booze UD 10 03/09/1998   Mashantucket, Connecticut, United States
Loss 24-17   Hasim "The Rock" Rahman UD 12 31/01/1998   Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States USBA/IBF Intercontinental Heavyweight Titles. 109-119, 109-118, 109-118.
Win 24-16   Samson Po'uha TKO 8 31/05/1997   Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States Referee stopped the bout at 2:53 of the eighth round.
Win 23-16   Thomas "Top Dawg" Williams TKO 8 03/04/1997   Worley, Idaho, United States Referee stopped the bout at 2:38 of the eighth round.
Win 22-16   Everton Davis UD 10 05/12/1996   Tulsa, Oklahoma, United States
Win 21-16   Bobby Harris UD 10 12/09/1996   Melville, New York, United States 97-91, 96-94, 95-94.
Loss 20-16   Danell "Doc" Nicholson TKO 8 19/10/1995   Las Vegas, Nevada, United States
Loss 20-15   Alex "The Destroyer" Stewart UD 10 08/08/1995   Coachella, California, United States 93-95, 91-97, 91-97.
Loss 20-14   Jeremy "Half Man-Half Amazing" Williams RTD 7 05/03/1995   Palm Springs, California, United States Ferguson could not answer the bell in round eight.
Loss 20-13   Larry "Easton Assassin" Holmes UD 10 09/08/1994   Shakopee, Minnesota, United States 92-99, 94-97, 94-96.
Loss 20-12   Frank Bruno TKO 1 16/03/1994   Birmingham, West Midlands, United Kingdom
Loss 20-11   "Merciless" Ray Mercer SD 10 19/11/1993   Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States 93-96, 93-96, 95-94.
Win 20-10   Rocky Pepeli TKO 9 22/07/1993   Biloxi, Mississippi, United States Referee stopped the bout at 1:30 of the ninth round.
Loss 19-10   Riddick "Big Daddy" Bowe KO 2 22/05/1993   Washington, District of Columbia, United States WBA World Heavyweight Title. Ferguson knocked out at 0:17 of the second round.
Win 19-9   "Merciless" Ray Mercer UD 10 06/02/1993   New York City, New York, United States 96-94, 97-94, 99-91.
Loss 18-9   Tony "TNT" Tubbs UD 10 24/11/1992   Auburn Hills, Michigan, United States
Loss 18-8   Michael "Dynamite" Dokes UD 10 28/07/1992   Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States 90-99, 91-98, 92-97.
Win 18-7   Mike Robinson TKO 6 05/06/1992   Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, United States
Loss 17-7   Bruce "The Atlantic City Express" Seldon TKO 5 19/01/1992   Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States IBF Intercontinental Heavyweight Title. Referee stopped the bout at 3:00 of the fifth round.
Loss 17-6   Oliver "The Atomic Bull" McCall UD 10 08/08/1991   Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States 94-96, 94-96, 94-96.
Win 17-5   Terry Armstrong TKO 6 31/03/1990   Tampa, Florida, United States Referee stopped the bout at 1:19 of the sixth round.
Loss 16-5   Orlin "The Juice" Norris UD 12 15/11/1988   San Diego, California, United States NABF Heavyweight Title.
Win 16-4   John "Big Red" Morton UD 10 10/09/1988   Winston-Salem, North Carolina, United States
Win 15-4   George Chaplin KO 8 01/08/1987   Las Vegas, Nevada, United States Chaplin knocked out at 1:52 of the eighth round.
Loss 14-4   Anders Eklund PTS 8 17/10/1986   Randers, Denmark
Loss 14-3   James "Bonecrusher" Smith MD 10 07/06/1986   Hamilton, Bermuda 96-96, 94-98, 95-97.
Loss 14-2   "Iron" Mike Tyson TKO 6 16/02/1986   Troy, New York, United States Referee stopped the bout at 1:19 of the sixth round.
Win 14-1   Oscar Holman UD 10 11/01/1986   Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States 6-4, 6-0, 6-3.
Loss 13-1   Carl "The Truth" Williams TKO 10 31/08/1985   Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States Referee stopped the bout at 0:37 of the tenth round.
Win 13-0   Tony Anthony TKO 10 20/06/1985   Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States Referee stopped the bout at 2:55 of the tenth round.
Win 12-0   James "Buster" Douglas MD 10 09/05/1985   Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States 5-5, 6-3, 7-2.
Win 11-0   Richard Scott TKO 4 27/03/1985   Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States Referee stopped the bout at 2:28 of the fourth round.
Win 10-0   Oscar Holman UD 8 13/12/1984   Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States 6-1, 6-2, 6-2.
Win 9-0   Reggie Gross TKO 3 20/09/1984   Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States Referee stopped the bout at 1:49 of the third round.
Win 8-0   Kid Samson KO 5 24/07/1984   Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Win 7-0   Robert Hill TKO 7 05/06/1984   Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Win 6-0   Ernie Singleton TKO 5 26/03/1984   Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States
Win 5-0   "Smokin" Mike Perkins UD 6 14/02/1984   Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States
Win 4-0   "Grizzly" Joe Ballard KO 4 08/10/1983   Atlantic City, New Jersey, United States
Win 3-0   James Holmes TKO 3 29/09/1983   Newark, New Jersey, United States
Win 2-0 Eddie Cowart KO 2 25/05/1983   Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States
Win 1-0   Tony "The Tiger" Jackson KO 1 12/01/1983   Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States