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A look back in history; Marvin Johnson wins light heavyweight boxing title for a record third time

A quarter of a century to the day Marvin Johnson reclaimed his WBA title

Posted Feb 09, 2011 by This Week in History

Marvin Johnson

One, if not the most exciting boxers of the ‘70s and ‘80s was the three time light heavyweight champ Marvin Johnson. February 9th 1986 saw the American boxer crowned light heavyweight champion for the third time in his career beating Leslie Stewart by technical knock-out.

Johnson was aged 32 when he won the title beating Stewart in Indianapolis, the town where he was born.

Before an illustrious professional career, Johnson was an accomplished amateur boxer as a National Golden Gloves champion as well as representing the USA in the 1972 Olympics where he won a bronze medal.

Johnson turned professional in 1973 aged just 19 and remained unbeaten for his first 15 fights – 12 of which were by knockout. He hammered some well-known fighters including Gary Summerhays, Eddie Owens, Ray Anderson and Tom Bethea.

His first loss as a pro boxer came when he suffered a defeat at the hands of Matt Franklin in 1977 for the North American Boxing Federation light heavyweight title. Johnson didn’t take the defeat lightly and returned to form beating his next five opponents including notable fighters like Jerry Celestine.

Johnson was crowned the WBC light heavyweight champion in 1978 when he beat Mate Parlov by a tenth round stoppage. The glory didn’t last long though as in 1979 Matt Franklin and Marvin Johnson met once again and Johnson was once again defeated and stripped of his title.

Later that year Johnson came back swinging taking down Victor Galindez to reclaim the WBA belt. Once again, the title was short lived as an on form Eddie Mustafa Muhammad thrashed Marvin and took his crown.

Meanwhile rising star Michael Spinks was becoming increasingly hot property having won gold at the ’76 Olympics. The two fighters crossed paths and Johnson proved to be Spinks’ toughest test but in the end Marvin Johnson was knocked out cold by a formidable left hook from Spinks in the fourth round.

Johnson wanted to be champion again and knew he still had it in him to be crowned the WBA light heavyweight king once again. He was given his chance on this day in 1986 when he met Leslie Stewart and finally defeated him in round seven when Stewart was so badly cut he could no longer continue.

Marvin Johnson is remembered as being one of the finest boxers in American history and is famed for still being the only fighter to win the 175lb WBA title three times. Johnson now works as a salesman at a local car dealership. Customers and fellow employees have say the former light heavyweight champ is famous for (humorously) threatening people with his boxing skills if they won’t do as he says.

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