By Joe Queijo
Aaron “Hawk” Pryor was one of the most flamboyant fighters ever, both in and out of the ring. His speed, showmanship and punching power electrified the talent thin 140lbs division in the early 1980s, culminating in tremendous kayo wins over all-time great and three-weight division superstar Alexis Argüello. But before his more famous bouts with Argüello, Pryor battled undefeated Kronk fighter Dujuan “Mr Excitement” Johnson in a breathtaking war.
Johnson, 17-0 (13), was an untested banger while Pryor, 29-0 (26), was the glamorous champion making his second WBA title defence while on a run of 20 straight kayos.
Pryor came out for the first round dancing, as he playfully mocked his challenger. Suddenly, Johnson struck with a sledgehammer right sending the champion toppling to the deck. Pryor got up immediately and attacked the challenger with a terrific assortment of blows, only to be nailed by blistering left hook. The Hawk retreated, but finished the round on top as he backed Johnson against the ropes until the sound of the bell.
The title-holder came out blazing for the second and stunned Johnson with a wicked right uppercut-left hook combination, before he was nailed with a serious of long rights later in the round. Johnson could not seem to miss the champion with his potent right hand as he took the third though Pryor came out winging in the fourth. He was stunned by another right, yet replied with blurring combinations only to take three consecutive right hands flush on his unprotected jaw.
The champion’s title looked for the taking, but he showed his tremendous talent as he pushed Johnson back with fearsome two-handed salvos to take the fifth and sixth rounds. The challenger was now tiring as Pryor took control of the contest. Johnson tried to nail the champion in the seventh with another cracking right, but walked into one, which visibly staggered him. Aaron let loose a non-stop barrage of some 30 blows without reply, prompting the referee to save the dazed challenger from further punishment.
Dujuan Johnson never recovered from the loss and was finally shot and killed years later in a drug related incident. Pryor took his whirlwind attack to Miami were he stopped Argüello in 14 tumultuous rounds before stopping him 10 in the rematch.
While Pryor was awesome in the ring, his personal life was a drug filled chaos. It all started to catch up with him and he retired from the sport in 1985. He returned in 1987, only to lose his undefeated record to welterweight puncher Bobby Joe Young in seven rounds. Pryor later won three meaningless fights even though he was suffering severe vision problems, which ultimately led to him losing sight in an eye.
Things worsened for Aaron as he was imprisoned for drug abuse and on release nearly died from bleeding ulcers. Yet Pryor survived it all and rebuilt his life. He is currently a Minister for his local church and recently released a brilliant autobiography “Flight of the Hawk” detailing his life and career.
Aaron Pryor w rsf 7 Dujuan Johnson, November 14 1981