Name: Ed Donaldson
Hometown: Mobile, Alabama, USA
Height: 6′ 3″ / 191cm
Boxing Record: click
Ed Donaldson was a 6'3" 235 pound Heavyweight fringe contender during the mid '90s. Although turning pro at 33 with no previous boxing experience big. Ed did bring to the ring his rather big frame, a deadly right hand, and the heart of a lion.
Donaldson, a full time police officer, turned pro 1992 with first round knock out of Ben Green. His next fight he went the distance decisioning a tough Warren Williams whom sported a decent record of 6-1. It would be only one of two times Donaldson would have to go the distance for a victory. He then suffered his first defeat to fringe contender James Gains. Donaldson was unshaken by his early loss. It was a decision loss, and he learned a lot from it. He then went on a string of first round knockouts, displaying his potent right hand, and re-establishing whatever momentum he may have lost in his fight with Gains.
His next opponent was Kirk Johnson. Yes that same Kirk Johnson that splattered Oleg Maskeav in 4 rounds. Johnson had a spectacular amateur career and represented Canada in the Olympics. Ed was not intimidated and took Johnson into the fifth round before being caught by the Canadian's crushing blows. It was the toughest fight Johnson had since turning pro. Big Ed fought his heart out against a guy who had a wealth of more experience and would turn out to be one of the top heavyweights in the world. Undaunted by his defeat against the rising star, Donaldson put together his best win streak. The streak climaxex with a brutal second round blow out of undefeated prospect Quin Navarre. Quinn was entering the ring undefeated in 11 pro outings, while Ed was a deceiving 7-2, but Ed's previous two losses were to two good fighters and provided him with some much needed ring experience. The fight wasn't even close. Big Ed hammered Navarre and put him down for the count in the second. It was an impressive showing that underlined Big Ed's biggest weapon?his power.
Now Big Ed Donaldson was 10-2 with 9 of his ten wins coming by knockout and over half of them didn't make it out of the first round. He was in fringe contention but time was not on his side due to his late start. He gambled and took on Alex Garcia, who sported an impressive 35-4-1 record. Again Donaldson was in with a man who had much, much more experience, and he was out boxed. Still he kept the pressure on and took Garcia the distance loosing a ten round decision. Impressed with Donaldson's durability and showing, despite him losing, the suits at ESPN asked if he wanted to fight Jimmy Thunder on national TV. A few tune-ups would have been nice first but it was an offer Ed could not refuse. If he won he would be in position to make some real money. Most did not think Ed would win, but given his past they did expect a good fight. Most of all Thunder was a heavy hitter and Ed looked to have had a pretty good chin. Surprisingly Thunder hit like thunder and lightning and took Ed out in the second. Thunder would establish himself as one of the best hitters in the division, although his boxing skills were no where near as impressive. It also turned out that the loss was the best thing to happen to Donaldson so far in his career. Upon viewing the knockout Larry Holmes incorrectly assumed Big Ed had a weak chin. He must not have taken into account few heavyweights today could have took a few flush shots from Jimmy Thunder and stayed up right. Thinking he had an easy win Larry Holmes was to fight Big Ed Donaldson on ESPN.
Donaldson was able to squeeze in a tune up fight for the biggest fight of his career. Big Ed's opponent was to be the well ventured Mike Faulkner. Mike Faulkner had once been an undefeated prospect but was a trial horse by the time Big Ed Donaldson caught up with him. Faulker did have a wealth of experience, having been in the ring with Shannon Briggs twice, former champions Greg Page and Tony Tucker, Lou Savarese and Frankie Swindell to name few. Mike used his experience to his advantage and was able to last the distance but little else in a losing effort. Mike survived to hear the final bell which had to be a moral victory for a man of Faulkner's record facing a big puncher like Ed Donaldson. Big Ed took the decision and poised for the fight of his life with Larry Holmes.
The fight was a story like the original Rocky with a legendary fighter giving a local boy a shot expecting easy meat and some easy money. The local boy however had other plans. Larry Holmes just happen to be one of Donaldson's heroes and he was training for this fight like it was being contested for the heavyweight championship of the world. While he had to juggle training and working full time as a police officer he was ready to give the fight of his life. The parallels to the Rocky movie drew when it was suggested he had no chance of winning but there might be a chance of lasting the distance. Many who tuned in to see the fight were hoping for a fight out of it. Big Ed was suddenly a local celebrity in his hometown with friends on the force telling him to whip the old man. Easier said than done. Larry Holmes was and is one of the best heavyweights of all time and earlier that year had given heavyweight champion Oliver McCall all he could handle. Most thought Holmes would blow Big Ed out like Thunder did before him. The commentators that night questioned whether Ed would freeze up fighting one of his idols, but were mindful enough to add he did have a good right hand if he got to use it against Larry.
The fight started out with Larry winning solely on his jab. Then rocking a tense looking Donaldson with right hands. The first couple of rounds went that way until Ed grew in confidence. He got bolder and started firing his jabs and righthands finding mild success. A big man, Ed was able to rough up Holmes and push him back to the ropes where he could tag Larry with a few shots. The fight was a rough and tumble affair with Ed pushing Larry back with bull charges and Larry losing his footing with his back foot slipping off the ring apron and causing him to fall to the canvas twice. They didn't count as knockdowns but they did ruffle Larry. Trash talking in the clinches as well as thumbing his adversary once after taking a good one-two against the ropes was Holmes' tactics for psychological warfare. Larry found Big Ed to be a stronger man then he had originally estimated, and Big Ed was also able to take Larry's best shots as well. Big Ed's main weapon was his power, and against a man like Larry Holmes who had only been KO'ed once in 65 fights by Mike Tyson, his best weapon was non issue. This made the fight to be an up hill battle. Ed swallowed a lot shots to get Larry to the ropes and land a few of his own. He did manage to rock the former champion a few times but Holmes chin was made of granite. It looked like Larry was going to win by decision by the way things were going until in the 8th round. The Legendary Larry Holmes crashed home a devastating right hand that was reminiscent of the one that crushed Weaver. The smack was loud like a bat hitting a watermelon and Big Ed Donaldson was sent backwards and hit the canvas so hard he literally bounced. It appeared as though he was out cold. The ref began his count and the TV commentators said the fight was probably over and Ed was out. With courage and bravery like Rocky when fighting Apollo Creed, Big Ed struggled to his feet just as the ref counted ten. For a brief moment it appeared the ref might stop it, but he didn't and the bell saved Donaldson from Holmes' follow up. The beginning of the ninth round had Larry trying to finish with Ed on shaky legs. By the middle of the round Ed had his legs back. By the end of the round he was fighting back. The TV commentators as well as the crowd and TV audience were shocked Ed had made it to see the last round, but doubted he would last to see the final bell.
Ed was three minutes away from lasting the distance with one of the greatest heavyweights of all time. Holmes being 46 meant little to diminish what it would mean to Big Ed to hear the final bell. Holmes wanted equally as bad to end the fight with Donaldson. Holmes took the fight with the impression it would be an easy tune up, but instead got a stern test. He wanted to look good in this fight on TV, perhaps for another big payday. The two came out for the last round each with a mission. Although the fight was out of Ed Donaldson's reach by then he came out and fought as if the fight still hung in the balance. Whether it was from bravery or lack of being able to avoid it, Ed stood in front of Larry Holmes and stayed there trading punches for the remainder of the round. The final bell sounded and Big Ed walked back to his corner with a smile from ear to ear. He had done it. He had earned the respect from one of his heroes. He walked over to Larry's corner and congratulated him as they shook hands. Larry's corner congratulated Ed in return for a good fight. Pictures were taken of Ed and Larry posing together all the while Ed sporting a smile that would suggest he had won. Well may be he won a moral victory.
Donaldson, perhaps satisfied with his accomplishments, didn't fight for a year after his punch-up with Holmes. He said before the Larry Holmes fight that he knew he would never be champ but wanted to see how far he could go. It seemed he had gone as for as he could. Unwisely he returned to the ring at 37 years old to fight a young behemoth that stood 6'7" and weighed 250 pounds! The young fighter was heavily hyped, and tagged as the next great heavyweight champion. The young fighter was a 18-0 Michael Grant. Donaldson was never in the fight and Grant took him out in the third. A year later Donaldson was to fight again. It was only his second fight in three years and by now he was 38. The young man he was to face was not a push over either. It was Keith McKnight a man with a 29-1 record. Despite his advanced age and inactivity the fight went the distance with McKnight taking the decision.
Donaldson has not fought since but in his brief career he faced Kirk Johnson, Michael Grant, and the legendary Larry Holmes. He also fought a number of fringe contenders who come close like Jimmy Thunder, Alex Garcia, Keith McKnight, and James Gaines. That is a stiff bunch of fighters to be faced against, especially considering he turned pro at 33 with no boxing experience. In all Ed's record stands at 11-7 with 9 of his wins coming by knockout, and 5 of those knockouts were first round blowouts. Not many fighters can boast of fighting the level of competition Ed Donaldson has faced, and who knows maybe with an earlier start and some better managing Ed might of made a bigger impact.
- 1989 United States (National AAU) Super Heavyweight Champion