Ivanson Ranny “Johnny’ Nelson competed as a professional boxer from 1986 to 2005 and is currently the longest reigning cruiserweight world champion in history. He held the British cruiserweight title twice (1989 to 1997), the European cruiserweight title twice (1990 – 1998), and he successfully defended the WBO title thirteen times between 1999 and 2005. He retired from boxing in late 2006.
After retiring, Nelson dedicated some of his time to helping inmates with life management skills. He has been involved in some charity work, speaking engagements at schools, and also with Sheffield MIND, an organization that assists people with depression.
Johnny published his life story in 2010, entitled “Hard Road to Glory”. He came from a family of six and decided to turn pro at 19, basically because he saw people getting paid. He worked three jobs while fighting as a professional, slowly building his confidence as he won his fourth and fifth fights. In May of 1989 he fought for the vacant British title. He came in as the underdog but was motivated and eager. He claimed that victory as one of the proudest moments of his life.
By the time Nelson faced Carl Thompson for the WBO Cruiserweight title in March of 1999, he was mentally and physically ready for the challenge, winning by TKO in the fifth round. He followed that victory up with 13 successful title defenses, describing himself as a “hungry champion”.
Currently, Nelson works for Sky Sports as a boxing commentator and pundit. Today, he graciously took his time to share some of his insight with Boxing Channel.