Light heavyweight Richard “The Destroyer” Hall has achieved more than most who enter the sport. He was at one time the WBA Interim light heavyweight champion, fought Roy Jones for the real title, and twice was oh so close to winning a marginal title in Germany. In his twelve-year career he’s amassed an impressive record of 27-5 (25).
Friday night, he faces #1 ranked former champion Glen Johnson at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, FL – the backyard for both men. The bout is a tremendous crossroads for Hall. A loss and he’s a forgotten man. Probably won’t even be able to get journeyman type fights because he’s a southpaw and possesses tremendous power. If he scores the upset, he’s right back in the thick of the division.
Like many boxers, things haven’t always been easy for Hall. Born in Jamaica, he and his brother were abandoned by their parents when he was just one and a half years old. After being found wandering the streets, he was sent to live with a Grandmother in Negril. Unfortunately, things didn’t get easier thanks to an abusive uncle. When Richard was a teen, the abuse got to the breaking point and Richard retaliated, stabbing his uncle. He fled to Kingston, a fugitive.
While working in a bakery, he bragged to his co-workers that he would be a boxing champion some day. He thought differently after his first day in the gym when he was beaten all over the ring by a heavyweight. After being persuaded to return to the gym, Hall was fighting for the national amateur championship two weeks later.
Hall traveled to the United States to fight in an amateur tournament. His first two fights were against Glen Johnson and Antonio Tarver.
After moving to the U.S., Hall went pro in 1993. He has fought as a light heavyweight his entire career. The Destroyer knocked out his first 8 opponents and was 17-0 with 16 knockouts when he suffered his first defeat, a tenth round TKO to Rocky Gannon.
Back on a winning streak, Hall stopped Anthony Bigeni in the third round to claim the WBA Interim title. In May of 2000, he got the bout he’d been dreaming of, a shot at the undisputed championship and Roy Jones Jr.
Those who saw the fight recall Jones relentlessly battering Hall until the fight was mercifully stopped in the eleventh round, despite the protests of Hall. What was not disclosed at the time was Hall was suffering from chicken pox and had not eaten in 48 hours.
His courage was rewarded with an opportunity to fight Dariusz Michalczewski in Germany. Hall was winning the fight when it was stopped with about a minute left in the eleventh round due to a swelling on Hall’s eye. The German crowd knew they had witnessed a travesty of justice and a rematch was scheduled.
The second fight was closer when again the fight was suddenly stopped in the tenth after Richard took a hard punch.
Since then, Richard’s career has stopped and started. He fought a barnburner on ESPN in 2003 against Julian Letterlough that saw both men go down in round one. Hall was clearly out on his feet after being knocked down. He hung on long enough to clear his head and put the hard punching Letterlough down towards the end of the round. The Destroyer lived up to his nickname and finished his man off in the next round.
In late 2003, Richard was ranked in the top ten by most organizations. It was difficult for Richard to get fights, however. After all, who wants to fight a southpaw with one punch knockout power? In May 2004, Hall took on undefeated Rico Hoye in Las Vegas in an IBF title eliminator. The winner would get a shot at Clinton Woods. In the first round, Hall took a shot to the back of the head that sent him to the canvass face first. His dreams of another title shot collapsed.
Now, Richard not only had to get back in line, he had to contend with an arm injury and an abnormal MRI. State commissions refused to license Richard despite his assertions that he’s had the same MRI results for years and that he’s been cleared to fight by doctors.
Hall, who walks around at 185 pounds, got a call in December asking if he’d be interested in fighting Glen Johnson in February. “I jumped at it right away,” he said. “For Glen Johnson to have reached what he reached and then turn around and give a person such as myself a chance, I really appreciate it.”
But that’s where the reverence ends. “Glen Johnson is a bum. Everyone gave him so much credit for beating Roy Jones. He beat a man who was washed up who came off of steroids.”
Despite Hall’s four-inch height advantage, he expects the fight to take place on the inside. Hall said he plans to let Johnson come to him. “Johnson is a bully,” he stated. “And I love bullies. I won’t back up.” Hall may be better off using his jab and keeping Johnson on the outside, where he can leverage the power in his long arms. Then again, after a two-year layoff, he may be concerned with conserving energy, despite being the younger man.
Johnson is as stubborn as they come. If Hall is sharp, the fight has potential to have the crowd on its feet from the opening bell.
The former contender is extremely confident of the outcome. Asked if this was his last chance, he replied, “No. This is just the beginning. 2006 is going to be a great year for me.”
Richard Hall has always found a way to rebound from adversity. Don’t be shocked if Friday night is another example of his resiliency.