Monday, 5 January 2015

The Technician.. Jerry Ballard.


Jerry Ballard was a street kid, he found boxing in his home town of Baltimore and following a short amateur career would turn pro in 1991. Despite losing his 6th fight to Robert Hawkins in 1995. By 1997 Jerry had amassed an impressive record of 21wins with only a single loss, amongst the victories he would acquire the WBOs NABO title and the lightly regarded IBC belt beating fellow DC native Corey Sanders. He would go on to get a draw with former WBA heavyweight champion Greg Page before tackling tough John Ruiz in his 23rd fight. On the Holyfield v Bean undercard in Atlanta.. I had met Jerry in Las Vegas in  1997 when he beat Tiwon Taylor on another Holyfield undercard v Michael Moorer. Jerry took the time to talk with me in the lobby of the Mirage hotel and I found him extremely amusing, a joker who loved to privately poke fun a folks in the casino, people watching.. We ate a couple of times and had a rapport, however I did see another side to Jerry the evening following the fight.. Jerry complained of a headache ever since the event and was extremely moody, we walked through the forum shops at Caesars and he got into an altercation with a man in the Guess store, Jerry almost got physical over a tiny issue about the guys attitude as we entered the store. Jerry had a temper, his good mood was great, but he could turn on the flip of a coin. 
I travelled to Georgia for the Ruiz fight which was for the NABF title, Jerry was confident. To look at Ballard was an imposing figure, muscular, and surly come fight time, he strutted into the Georgia dome ring and stomped around marking territory, Ruiz looked ordinary in comparison but in boxing this means very little. Jerry started slow, looking to land wide telegraphed shots, Ruiz would jab and move using the ring, this pattern continued. By round three Jerry had not got near Ruiz who was starting to move through the gears, Jerry was tiring. Round four looked ominous for Ballard, his heavy muscles were exhausting him and John knew it, pouring on the pressure with combinations he began to push Jerry backwards, ruthlessly punishing his man at will until a last left hook forced Ballard to quit as he slumped into the ropes, the first and only stoppage loss on his record. This was to be the highlight of Ballards career and it ended shockingly..  I spoke to Jerry that evening, very few words.. he didn't see it coming, it crushed him! 
The year later he would fight twice more both victories, the latter a stoppage of tough Garing Lane in DC..  This would be his last fight.. Sadly six months later on August 3rd 1999 I got a phone call from a friend in Maryland, who knew I was friends with Jerry, it wasn't good news..  Jerry had got involved in a confrontation with a guy in a club in Baltimore, it spilled onto the street in the early hours of the morning... According to witnesses Jerry would pursue his antagonist towards his vehicle and appeared to have been struck...  Jerry would never back down and took off after the man into the darkness.. Jerry Ballard had been fatally stabbed in the neck, but unknowingly made chase and collapsed with his obvious injuries. Jerry probably would have lived if he would have tended to his neck wound immediately but bled to death in an alley over a mile from where he was last seen. Some people live by a certain code, Jerry Ballard was one of those people, he wore his heart on his sleeve but was nobody's fool..  Sadly it cost him his life..  

Jerry's boxing record was 21 wins, 2 losses and a single draw..  All wins were by knockout.