August 9, 1928
|Died||February 19, 2015 (aged 86)|
|Height||5 ft 10 in (1.78 m)|
|Reach||74 in (188 cm)|
|Wins by KO||32|
Johnson was born in Manayunk, Philadelphia. He started boxing while serving in the United States Navy and turned professional in 1946. He won his first twenty-four fights before losing a ten-round decision to Archie Moore in 1949. Moore would be Johnson's biggest career rival. Johnson rebounded with four straight victories, including a ten-round decision win against future Hall of Fame inductee Jimmy Bivins.
Johnson's father, Phil Johnson, was also a professional boxer. Phil and Harold Johnson became the first father/son combination to not only fight the same fighter, but lose to him as well. Both suffered third-round knockout defeats at the hands of future World Heavyweight Champion Jersey Joe Walcott in 1936 and 1950, respectively. Harold lost after suffering an injury to the intervertebral disc in the small of his back.
After five consecutive wins, Johnson resumed his rivalry with Archie Moore, fighting Moore three times in a row between September 1951 and January 1954. All three went the ten-round distance. Johnson lost the rematch, won the rubber match and lost the fourth bout.
In 1952, Johnson split two fights with Bob Satterfield, losing the first by decision and winning the second by knockout, and won a decision over heavyweight contender Nino Valdez. The following year, he defeated former World Heavyweight Champion Ezzard Charles by a split decision. Johnson would finally get a title shot eight years into his career in his fifth and final fight against Archie Moore in 1954. Moore was making the third defense of the World Light Heavyweight Championship. In an exciting fight, Johnson knocked Moore down in the 10th round and was ahead on the scorecards after 13 rounds. But Moore rallied, knocking Johnson down and stopping him in the 14th round.
Johnson outpointed Julio Mederos over ten rounds in 1954. The following year, they had a rematch in Philadelphia. Johnson collapsed after the second round and was carried from the ring on a stretcher. Tests later revealed that Johnson had been drugged with a barbiturate. As a result, the Governor of Pennsylvania suspended boxing in the state for 114 days and instructed the Pennsylvania Athletic Commission to launch a probe. Johnson said he started feeling ill in his dressing room after eating an orange that had been given to him by a stranger who said he was a long-time admirer. A chemical analysis of a piece of the orange showed no trace of a drug or barbiturate. The probe never did uncover who drugged Johnson or how the drug was administered. However, the commission ruled that Johnson knew he was not in condition to fight and should've reported that fact to commission officials on duty that night. He was suspended for six months and his purse was forfeited.
When the National Boxing Association (NBA) withdrew recognition of Archie Moore as World Light Heavyweight Champion for failure to defend, Johnson defeated Jesse Bowdry in 1961 by a ninth-round technical knockout to capture the vacant NBA title. In his first title defense, Johnson stopped Von Clay in two rounds. After defeating second-ranked heavyweight contender Eddie Machen by a ten-round decision in a non-title bout, Johnson successfully defended his title for a second time with a split decision victory over 4th-ranked light heavyweight contender Eddie Cotton.
Johnson gained universal recognition as World Light Heavyweight Champion when he defeated Doug Jones in 1962 by a decision in fifteen rounds. He successfully defended the undisputed title once, outpointing Gustav Scholz in Berlin, then lost it to Willie Pastrano by a fifteen-round split decision in 1963. Johnson would never fight for a title again and retired in 1971 with a record of 76–11 with 32 knockouts.
Johnson was inducted into the World Boxing Hall of Fame in 1992 and the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 1993.
Johnson was named the 7th greatest light heavyweight of the 20th century by the Associated Press in 1999. Three years later, The Ring magazine ranked Johnson 7th on the list "The 20 Greatest Light Heavyweight of All-Time" and 80th on the list "The 80 Best Fighters of the Last 80 Years." Johnson died at the age of 86 on February 19, 2015.
Professional boxing record
|87 fights||76 wins||11 losses|
|87||Loss||76–11||Herschel Jacobs||TKO||3 (10)||Mar 30, 1971||Sunnyside Gardens, Queens, New York City, New York, U.S.|
|86||Win||76–10||Johnny Alford||UD||10||Jun 11, 1968||Miami Beach Convention Hall, Miami Beach, Florida, U.S.|
|85||Win||75–10||Lothar Stengel||PTS||10||Feb 3, 1968||Festhalle Frankfurt, Frankfurt, Hesse, Germany|
|84||Win||74–10||Eddie Jones||PTS||10||Aug 7, 1967||Silver Slipper, Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.|
|83||Win||73–10||Herschel Jacobs||UD||10||May 1, 1967||New Orleans Municipal Auditorium, New Orleans, Louisiana, U.S.|
|82||Win||72–10||Pekka Kokkonen||PTS||10||Dec 6, 1966||Wiener Stadthalle, Vienna, Austria|
|81||Loss||71–10||Johnny Persol||UD||10||Jan 7, 1966||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.|
|80||Win||71–9||Hank Casey||KO||8 (10)||Apr 20, 1964||Santa Monica Civic Auditorium, Santa Monica, California, U.S.|
|79||Win||70–9||Henry Hank||UD||10||Dec 6, 1963||The Blue Horizon, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|78||Loss||69–9||Willie Pastrano||SD||15||Jun 1, 1963||Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.||Lost WBA, WBC, and The Ring light heavyweight titles|
|77||Win||69–8||Tommy Merrill||TKO||9 (10)||Mar 19, 1963||Catholic Youth Center, Scranton, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|76||Win||68–8||Gustav Scholz||UD||15||Jun 23, 1962||Olympiastadion, Westend, Berlin, Germany||Retained NYSAC, NBA, and The Ring light heavyweight titles|
|75||Win||67–8||Doug Jones||UD||15||May 12, 1962||Philadelphia Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.||Retained NBA light heavyweight title;|
Won vacant NYSAC and The Ring light heavyweight titles
|74||Win||66–8||Eddie Cotton||SD||15||Aug 29, 1961||Sick's Stadium, Seattle, Washington, U.S.||Retained NBA light heavyweight title|
|73||Win||65–8||Eddie Machen||PTS||10||Jul 1, 1961||Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.|
|72||Win||64–8||Von Clay||TKO||2 (15)||Apr 24, 1961||Philadelphia Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.||Retained NBA light heavyweight title|
|71||Win||63–8||Jesse Bowdry||TKO||9 (15)||Feb 7, 1961||Miami Beach Convention Hall, Miami Beach, Florida, U.S.||Won vacant NBA light heavyweight title|
|70||Win||62–8||Clarence Floyd||UD||10||May 4, 1960||Philadelphia Convention Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania|
|69||Win||61–8||Sonny Ray||TKO||10 (10)||Nov 11, 1959||Chicago Stadium, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.|
|68||Win||60–8||Johnny York||TKO||6 (10)||Aug 4, 1959||Wahconah Park, Pittsfield, Massachusetts, U.S.|
|67||Win||59–8||Rudy Watkins||KO||6 (10)||Dec 15, 1958||Cambria A.C., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|66||Win||58–8||Howard King||UD||10||Dec 3, 1958||Chicago Stadium, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.|
|65||Win||57–8||Ollie Wilson||TKO||2 (10)||Apr 15, 1958||Foot Guard Hall, Hartford, Connecticut, U.S.|
|64||Win||56–8||Bert Whitehurst||UD||10||Jan 17, 1958||Syracuse War Memorial Arena, Syracuse, New York City, New York, U.S.|
|63||Win||55–8||Sid Peaks||KO||5 (10)||Dec 17, 1957||Toledo, Ohio, U.S.|
|62||Win||54–8||Wayne Bethea||UD||10||Sep 10, 1957||Philadelphia Convention Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|61||Win||53–8||Clarence Hinnant||KO||1 (10)||May 31, 1957||St. Nicholas Arena, New York City, New York, U.S.|
|60||Win||52–8||Bob Satterfield||UD||10||Mar 12, 1957||Miami Beach Auditorium, Miami Beach, Florida, U.S.|
|59||Win||51–8||Bert Whitehurst||PTS||10||Dec 8, 1956||Portland Exposition Building, Portland, Maine, U.S.|
|58||Loss||50–8||Julio Mederos||TKO||2 (10)||May 6, 1955||Philadelphia Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.||Tests revealed that Johnson had been drugged.|
Some sources list this bout as a no contest
|57||Win||50–7||Paul Andrews||KO||6 (10)||Feb 11, 1955||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.|
|56||Win||49–7||Marty Marshall||UD||10||Dec 22, 1954||Detroit Olympia, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.|
|55||Win||48–7||Julio Mederos||UD||10||Dec 7, 1954||Miami Beach Auditorium, Miami Beach, Florida, U.S.|
|54||Loss||47–7||Oakland Billy Smith||KO||2 (10)||Oct 8, 1954||Philadelphia Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|53||Loss||47–6||Archie Moore||TKO||14 (15)||Aug 11, 1954||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.||For NYSAC, NBA, and The Ring light heavyweight titles|
|52||Win||47–5||Paul Andrews||MD||10||Mar 17, 1954||Chicago Stadium, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.|
|51||Win||46–5||Charley Doc Williams||TKO||8 (10)||Feb 15, 1954||Miami Beach Auditorium, Miami Beach, Florida, U.S.|
|50||Win||45–5||Jimmy Slade||SD||10||Jan 29, 1954||St. Nicholas Arena, New York City, New York, U.S.|
|49||Win||44–5||Chubby Wright||UD||10||Nov 19, 1953||Hershey Sports Arena, Hershey, Pennsylvania|
|48||Win||43–5||Henry Hall||UD||10||Nov 7, 1953||Milwaukee Auditorium, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.|
|47||Win||42–5||Ezzard Charles||SD||10||Sep 8, 1953||Shibe Park, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|46||Win||41–5||Toxie Hall||UD||10||May 11, 1953||Dinner Key, Miami, Florida, U.S.|
|45||Win||40–5||Billy Gilliam||UD||10||Mar 21, 1953||Toledo Sports Arena, Toledo, Ohio, U.S.|
|44||Win||39–5||Jimmy Slade||UD||10||Jan 16, 1953||St. Nicholas Arena, New York City, New York, U.S.|
|43||Win||38–5||Niño Valdés||UD||10||Nov 24, 1952||Boxing From Eastern Parkway, Brooklyn, New York City, New York, U.S.|
|42||Win||37–5||Bob Satterfield||KO||2 (10)||Oct 6, 1952||Philadelphia Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|41||Win||36–5||Leonard Morrow||KO||3 (10)||Sep 16, 1952||Arena, Toledo, Ohio, U.S.|
|40||Loss||35–5||Bob Satterfield||SD||10||Aug 6, 1952||Chicago Stadium, Chicago, Illinois, U.S.|
|39||Win||35–4||Clarence Henry||SD||10||Mar 17, 1952||Philadelphia Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|38||Loss||34–4||Archie Moore||UD||10||Jan 29, 1952||Toledo Sports Arena, Toledo, Ohio, U.S.|
|37||Win||34–3||Archie Moore||UD||10||Dec 10, 1951||Arena, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.|
|36||Loss||33–3||Archie Moore||UD||10||Sep 24, 1951||Philadelphia Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|35||Win||33–2||Chubby Wright||UD||10||Jul 23, 1951||Toppi Stadium, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|34||Win||32–2||Elkins Brothers||TKO||10 (10)||Jun 18, 1951||Toppi Stadium, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|33||Win||31–2||Chuck Hunter||PTS||8||Feb 9, 1951||Madison Square Garden, New York City, New York, U.S.|
|32||Win||30–2||Dusty Wilkerson||KO||4 (10)||Jan 22, 1951||Philadelphia Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|31||Win||29–2||Harry Daniels||KO||2 (10)||Dec 18, 1950||Philadelphia Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|30||Loss||28–2||Jersey Joe Walcott||KO||3 (10)||Feb 8, 1950||Philadelphia Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|29||Win||28–1||Bert Lytell||PTS||10||Dec 7, 1949||Memorial Hall, Dayton, Ohio, U.S.|
|28||Win||27–1||Jimmy Bivins||UD||10||Oct 26, 1949||Philadelphia Convention Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|27||Win||26–1||Henry Hall||UD||10||Jul 25, 1949||Borchert Field, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S|
|26||Win||25–1||Henry Hall||UD||10||Jun 16, 1949||Milwaukee Auditorium, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, U.S.|
|25||Loss||24–1||Archie Moore||UD||10||Apr 26, 1949||Philadelphia Convention Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|24||Win||24–0||Arturo Godoy||UD||10||Feb 23, 1949||Philadelphia Convention Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|23||Win||23–0||Willie Brown||KO||7 (8)||Dec 14, 1948||Philadelphia Convention Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|22||Win||22–0||Jim Holden||PTS||8||Nov 9, 1948||Little Palestra, Allentown, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|21||Win||21–0||Agostinho Guedes||TKO||3 (10)||Sep 28, 1948||Philadelphia Convention Center, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|20||Win||20–0||Vernon Williams||PTS||8||May 13, 1948||Waltz Dream Arena, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.|
|19||Win||19–0||Kenny Harris||UD||10||Mar 29, 1948||Philadelphia Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|18||Win||18–0||Kenny Harris||UD||8||Mar 1, 1948||Philadelphia Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|17||Win||17–0||Kid Wolfe||PTS||8||Dec 11, 1947||Waltz Dream Arena, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.|
|16||Win||16–0||Herbie Katz||KO||1 (8)||Nov 24, 1947||Philadelphia Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|15||Win||15–0||Jimmy Moore||KO||5 (8)||Nov 6, 1947||Waltz Dream Arena, Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.|
|14||Win||14–0||Eddie Beazley||TKO||1 (6)||Oct 6, 1947||Philadelphia Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|13||Win||13–0||Al Pinel||PTS||6||Aug 4, 1947||Philadelphia Municipal Stadium, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|12||Win||12–0||Tommy Ruth||KO||6 (8)||Jul 8, 1947||Philadelphia Arena Stadium, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|11||Win||11–0||Fred Lester||TKO||8 (8)||May 26, 1947||Philadelphia Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|10||Win||10–0||Leon Szymurski||TKO||3 (6)||Apr 28, 1947||Philadelphia Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|9||Win||9–0||Tony Gillo||PTS||6||Mar 10, 1947||Philadelphia Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|8||Win||8–0||Joe Van Loan||TKO||2 (6)||Feb 17, 1947||Philadelphia Arena, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|7||Win||7–0||Jim Holden||KO||4 (6)||Feb 10, 1947||William Allen High School, Allentown, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|6||Win||6–0||Chappie Manning||PTS||6||Jan 24, 1947||Armory (military), Reading Armory, Reading, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|5||Win||5–0||Frank Lowry||TKO||2 (6)||Jan 10, 1947||Sports club, Cambria A.C., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|4||Win||4–0||Randy Ingram||KO||4 (6)||Oct 25, 1946||Sports club, Cambria A.C., Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|3||Win||3–0||Jimmy Kennedy||PTS||6||Sep 9, 1946||Allentown, Pennsylvania, U.S.|
|2||Win||2–0||Ted Simmons||KO||2 (4)||Aug 13, 1946||Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.|
|1||Win||1–0||Dick Brewster||KO||2 (4)||Jun 18, 1946||Wilmington, Delaware, U.S.|
- Roberts, James B.; Skutt, Alexander G. (2006). The Boxing Register: International Boxing Hall of Fame Official Record Book. ISBN 9781590131213. Retrieved June 20, 2014.
- "Pug Collapses In Third Round Of Walcott Mix". February 9, 1950. Retrieved June 20, 2014.
- "Moore Decks Johnson, Craves Shot at Marciano". August 12, 1954. Retrieved June 20, 2014.
- "Suspension Ordered for Harold Johnson". July 7, 1955. Retrieved June 20, 2014.
- "Pastrano Wins Title With Upset Decision". June 2, 1963. Retrieved June 20, 2014.
- "Boxing's Best of the Century". Boxing.about.com. March 12, 2014. Retrieved June 20, 2014.
- "Ring Magazine's 80 Best Fighters of the Last 80 Years". Boxing.about.com. June 6, 2014. Retrieved June 20, 2014.
- "Harold Johnson passes". Fightnews.com. February 19, 2015. Archived from the original on February 20, 2015. Retrieved February 20, 2015.