Glen Johnson: "Iím looking for the knockout but even if itís a decision I believe I will win that just the same"
by Geoffrey Ciani (Interviewed by Jenna J & Geoffrey Ciani) - This weekís 118th edition of On the Ropes Boxing Radio (brought to you by CWH Promotions) featured an exclusive interview with former light heavyweight champion Glen Johnson (51-14-2, 35 KOs) who is scheduled to challenge WBC super middleweight champion Carl Froch (27-1, 20 KOs) in the Semi-Finals of the Super Six Boxing Classic on June 4 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Johnson spoke about his upcoming fight and also provided opinions on various aspects of the current boxing landscape. Here is a complete transcript of that interview:
JENNA J: Letís move on down to our final guest of this weekís show. He is the former light heavyweight champion of the world. He is ďThe Road WarriorĒ. Making his first appearance with On the Ropes we are joined by Glen Johnson. How are you doing today Glen?
GLEN JOHNSON: Iím doing good. Iím doing good, Iím just relaxing.
JENNA: Well thatís great to hear. Well you have a very big fight against Carl ďThe CobraĒ Froch for the WBC super middleweight title. Itís going to be on June 4. Can you tell us a little bit about this fight?
JOHNSON: Yeah the fight is a part of the Super Six. Weíre in the Semi-Finals and the winner of Carl Froch and I will meet the winner of Ward-Abraham in the Finals. So I believe their fight is two weeks ahead of us and our fight is set for June 4 in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Iím very excited about the opportunity and Iím training hard and getting ready for that fight right now. So Iím looking forward to it.
JENNA: Alright well Carl Froch has been a champion two times so far and heís obviously a very tough opponent. What do you think about him and his style?
JOHNSON: I believe heís a tough fighter. Heís a very smart fighter. Like you said he has become a champion twice. When you become a champion twice there has got to be a lot of upside to your skills. I have to have a lot of respect for that. You know heís a rangy guy, heís tall, heís a big guy for a super middleweight, and heís also tough. So he knows how to fight inside and outside and Iím looking for a tough and exciting fight. The fans will have to be cheering to see this fight.
JENNA: Well originally you were not in the Super Six, you became involved as a replacement. Can you tell us about your involvement getting into it and the decision to actually take that spot and compete in the tournament?
JOHNSON: Yeah, when the Super Six was first formed I was very excited and I was like, man I wish I was a super middleweight. I would love to be a part of it, but I was a light heavyweight at that time. A year later a couple of fallouts happened and they needed a replacement and my name was one of the guys that they threw in the pot. So I jumped on the opportunity right away and started dieting. I was able to bring my weight down to 168 pounds. I fought a brilliant fight against Allan Green and I won that fight and gave myself a shot at this tournament. So now Iím in it and Iím doing everything I can to win it.
JENNA: You mentioned your fight with Allan Green. It was the first time in ten years that you weighed in at the super middleweight limit. How did you feel fighting at that weight and how did you feel particularly in that fight?
JOHNSON: You know surprisingly I felt great. I actually felt better than in the light heavyweight division. I left the super middleweight division because an opportunity came to me at light heavyweight. Iím not a particularly big guy per se. You know I just was able to fight at light heavyweight but I believe Iím naturally more of a super middleweight than I am a light heavyweight. I started out my career as a middleweight but that became too difficult for me so I went up to super middleweight and I was there for awhile doing well. But the opportunity came for me at light heavyweight and I jumped at that opportunity and never went back down to super middleweight. I just stayed at light heavyweight, so this opportunity came now ten years later. Iím a lot older and it seemed more difficult. I really didnít know if I could or not, but once they said that they would take me on if I was able to make that weight I just had to rededicate myself and have the mindset that I needed to have to be a super middleweight. I was able to get it done and went in there and fought a great fight.
JENNA: Okay well Glen youíre known as ďThe Road WarriorĒ, but for this particular fight itís actually going to be on neutral territory as Carl Froch is coming to the United States and obviously youíre not a native in the United States. How do you feel about where this fight is going to be located and do you think for a guy like yourself, who has been in so many close and controversial fights, that if it is close that you will get the call on the cards?
JOHNSON: You know I donít if itís close if Iím going to get the call. My job is to go out there and to try not to make it close if possible. Again, when you have the talent level of guys like we are, the talent level is very close and to separate yourself from the other guys is sometimes difficult to do. I have to go out and do it the best way I can and hopefully Iíll have some judges that pay attention and if I have that I believe Iím going to come out victorious. If they choose to give it to the Englishman, if thatís what they want to do, then they will probably find reason to do that. Iím sure it would probably make a bigger draw if an English guy and an American guy are fighting for the Finals, it probably sells more tickets and makes more headlines in that situation. I got to go in there and give myself the best chance of winning to feed my family and do the best I can. Iím going to go in there 100% and do everything I can to win it and hopefully I have clear eyes that will be able to see that I did enough and give it to me.
JENNA: I certainly hope that is the case, but Glen weíre also joined by my Co-Host Geoff.
GEOFFREY CIANI: Hi Glen, itís a great pleasure to have you on the show.
JOHNSON: Thank you man. I appreciate that.
CIANI: Thanks. Now you said you have some concerns that you think the marketability of a fight between a British guy and an American would be more appealing and that if it is a close fight you think that they will find a way to give it to him. Does that give you extra motivation to try to take Froch out and win by knockout the way you did against Green?
JOHNSON: Well you know thatís always on the forefront. Thatís always on my mind. Every time Iím fighting marquee guys you always want to go in there and get the knockout because itís the only way to assure yourself you get the victory. Again, thatís what I want to do and Iím not going to fool myself. It doesnít happen all the time and I donít want to blow hot air and fool anybody thatís whatís going to happen. Certainly I will be looking to do that, but then I always prepare myself to go the distance because I know more than likely thatís going to happen. So again, Iím just looking for judges that are just going to pay attention and have it in their hearts to give it to the winner. If Carl Froch is able to beat me, then so be it! If I beat him I donít want them to hand it to him just because of marketing.
CIANI: Glen changing things up a little bit and looking at your old division up at light heavyweight, right now there is a lot of debate over who the best is in that division. In the argument are guys like Bernard Hopkins, Jean Pascal, Tavoris Cloud, and Chad Dawson. Now you fought three of those guys. Who do you think is the best in that division right now in your opinion?
JOHNSON: Wow! I mean itís really hard to say because these guys are really not consistent. At one time it seemed like Chad Dawson was the most dominant guy there, and then he went over to Canada and just handed his championship to Pascal. I donít think he tried to win at all. So then Pascal looked like he might be the guy, and then he comes back and Bernard Hopkins basically just takes the win from him. Even though they called it a draw I believe Bernard Hopkins won that fight. With Tavoris Cloud, heís probably the steady guy. Heís not so up and down even though I believe that we fought a close fight and I won the fight. But Iíd probably have to look at Tavoris Cloud as the most solid guy there. With Bernard I want to give him props that he might be the guy, but when I think back that he didnít look so good against Roy Jones. I know earlier on in their careers they fought and they didnít look good against each other. Maybe those two guys styles are just not going to make a good fight. Iím considering that as well. I really donít know if it was a bad Pascal turnout or a brilliant Bernard Hopkins turnout in that fight. So I think this fight probably will be the deciding factor between Bernard Hopkins and Pascal now. Thatís going to make me really take a hard look. Either itís going to be Bernard Hopkins or Cloud, because those are the two guys that really appear to be more steady than the rest.
CIANI: Now you mentioned how that fight and the winner of that can tell a lot about that division. What did you think Glen of the first fight between Hopkins and Pascal and what do you think will happen in the second?
JOHNSON: I really believe that Bernard Hopkins won the first fight with Pascal. I was there at ringside and I saw it and I believe Bernard won it. I donít think Pascal did enough. He did enough early to get the knockdowns, but the knockdowns were careless ones. Bernard came out and he was being careless and he got knocked down. But to come back from two knockdowns in your country to pull out a draw, I mean you know you got whooped. I mean he shouldnít even make an argument about that. In the second fight again, I really donít know because I didnít think Pascal fought a good fight in the first one and again itís hard to know if Bernard fought a brilliant fight or if Pascal is just everything that I accuse him to be where he is a four or five round fighter, and if you can get past those rounds you basically can either stop him later on or you can win the majority of the rounds after those four or five rounds. He has stamina problems I believe. So I just believe that Bernard probably has a good chance again just based on that. Pascal I think his best opportunity is probably to stop Bernard early. If he doesnít, Bernard probably will pull out another close win again.
CIANI: Sticking with you and Bernard for a minute, there are a lot of comparisons that you two are fighters who are still fighting at an extremely high level into your 40s. Did you ever think 14 years ago when you fought Bernard that the two of you would still be fighting at such a high level all these years later?
JOHNSON: I know for me I didnít think that at all. At that time I was still learning and still trying to get a good understanding of what boxing was all about. So I certainly didnít see the longevity that I see now then. But with experience and with some growing and some understanding about boxing and just educating yourself a little bit more about how the art of boxing works, you realize that you can still do it at this high level. Certainly I see Bernard is doing the same thing. I thought he slipped off with Roy Jones. I thought he really fell off there, but then he came back and looked brilliant against Pascal. So I was happy to see that he was able to find some form. I donít want to over judge it because Pascal is a guy who is high energy for four rounds and then in five and six he starting to weaken up. So I donít want to make too much of it but he certainly looked a lot better than he looked against Roy Jones and that Bernard Iím very proud of.
JENNA: Glen my Co-Host brought up that fight that you had 14 years ago. Iím a little bit interested, can you tell us what it was like facing Bernard back then and suffering your first loss in what people consider to be your most definitive loss of your career?
JOHNSON: Yeah, that was my first loss. It was a devastating loss obviously. When youíre losing for the first time itís one of your most painful losses. Obviously Bernard was more experienced and stronger than me and basically he took me to school in that fight. I learned a lot in the fight. I learned a lot from the fight after the fight and it helped me to be the fighter that I am today. All in all Iím glad the fight happened and I got the experience I could take from it.
JENNA: Well after that fight you had a bit of a downhill point in your career when you had two separate losing streaks of both four and three fights, but then you ended up working your way up to a title shot against Clinton Woods in a very controversial bout that took place back in í03. Can you tell us about that fight and what happened when the scorecards were read out?
JOHNSON: Yeah well after I fought Bernard I started fighting at a higher level. It was different opponents from what I was fighting coming up to Bernard, but I didnít want to fall off from that type quality of fighters. I didnít want to take any steps backwards so I said if Iím going to still be in boxing then I want to compete against the best. So I looked for the best fights and I would consistently lose those, but in each one I was growing and I was getting better and I was learning, and thatís what I wanted to experience. Thatís what I wanted to do, because if Iím going to fight the kind of guys I can knock out and beat up like I was doing prior to Bernard then Iím not going to learn. I needed to continue that growth I felt I was getting from the Bernard fight and the other fights. Then I hit a stride and once I hit that stride I started to get over. With the Clinton Woods fight, that fight I won the fight clearly and they called it a draw. We had to go back and do a rematch and I beat him and I won my first championship.
JENNA: Well after winning your first championship you were put in the position to fight Roy Jones Junior who was coming off of a knockout loss to Antonio Tarver. Most people considered you to be the opponent and for this to be a comeback fight for Roy to get a title belt. What were your thoughts going into it and what were your thoughts with the result?
JOHNSON: Well you know, I knew the situation. I knew I was a stepping stone for Roy for another major fight between him and Antonio Tarver. I was well aware of the situation. I knew I wasnít getting the respect that I thought I deserved, but that was motivation for me. I trained extremely hard. I felt like I could beat Roy and I felt like I could beat Antonio Tarver and I prepared myself for that fight and I went out and executed my plan and it worked for me. Obviously it was a wonderful time, and then we got the Antonio Tarver fight and we went out with a great game plan for that fight with my training staff and everybody, my trainer and everybody. We put a great plan together and we went out and won that fight. We won ďFighter of the YearĒ. That year I believe was í04, and after that we took a little bit of time off and we had a rematch with Antonio Tarver and we lost that fight. Ever since then weíve been in kind of a back-and-forth/up-and-down situation. This is another great opportunity for me in the super middleweight division and thatís pretty much where we are now and what weíre focusing on.
JENNA: The fight with Carl Froch is obviously taking place in June. Were you at all disappointed that the fight couldnít happen sooner after your win against Allan Green?
JOHNSON: Oh yeah, that was painful for me. I was really disappointed that the fight took as long as it did, but again when things are out of your control you only have to focus in on the things that you can control so I just tried to stay in the gym and work and try not to get rusty. Right now weíre feeling good. Weíre looking forward to the fight and I believe the fans should have a treat. If Carl Froch is as tough as I imagine him to be then I believe this fight is going to be an exciting fight for the fans and I believe every fight fan should enjoy this fight.
CIANI: Glen, when you look at the Super Six on the other end, you have Andre Ward facing Arthur Abraham in the other Semi-Finals matchup. How do you think that oneís going to play out?
JOHNSON: You know everybody is basically kind of throwing Abraham under the bus because he didnít really show up. In his last two fights he really didnít look good, but I think that fight is a tougher fight than everybody seems to be making it. Andre Ward is not a guy I think Abrahamís going to be shy of or scared of. Heís a smart fighter, heís very fast, but I donít think heís going to be hiding behind his glove like he did with Carl Froch. Carl Froch is a bigger guy, a stronger guy, and you have to be more careful with a Carl Froch, but I believe with Ward he can take more risks and he can take more chances. I believe he will because Ward is not a devastating puncher. Heís a fast guy that can hit you two or three times where Carl Froch might only hit you once, but one hit could be a devastating one so you have to be careful. So I think thatís going to make a huge difference. I still expect Ward to win, but I really expect it to be a tough fight. To me itís more of a tossup fight then it is a Wardís going to win it like everybody is saying. Weíll wait and see. Iíll see if Iím right or Iím wrong but thatís how I imagine it to be. I look at both guys and I basically believe that that fight is going to be tougher and harder than I hear most people saying it is going to be.
CIANI: Looking at another division, the biggest star in boxing today is Manny Pacquiao. Iím wondering what you think of him as a fighter and what you think of his upcoming fight against Sugar Shane Mosley?
JOHNSON: Well Pacquiao is my favorite fighter. Iím a huge fan and Iím also a huge fan of Mosley. Iím sure Mosley is not the Mosley that he was a few years ago. That happens to everybody. It might not be the fight that the fans want to see obviously, but Iím excited for Sugar Shane, for him to work as hard as he did in boxing and give us so many fabulous boxing matches and great fights and everything. For him to be where heís at now in his career and to get this huge payday and this big fight on this big stage to kind of close his career out if he wants to. Iím extremely happy for him. It might not be the treat that the fans and myself want, but on the other hand I really have to look at the best scenario and Iím extremely happy for this fight and for Sugar Shane as well.
CIANI: Glen back to you, one of the questions I like to ask the guests on this program is the story behind how they got their nicknames, and in your case you have two nicknames: ďThe GentlemanĒ and ďThe Road WarriorĒ. Can you tell us a little about how each of those names came about?
JOHNSON: You know I got both of those names from a reporter to be honest with you. I donít remember the exact details, but I was talking to a reporter and he said to me that, ďYou are truly one of the gentlemen. Iíve called a lot of boxing and I called a lot of sports and you are truly one of the real gentlemen Iíve ever coveredĒ and I thought that was a huge compliment. So I named myself Glen Johnson ďThe GentlemanĒ. Then I had another reporter who was interviewing me and the subject came up that I was traveling all over the world and fighting all of these tough fights. He said, ďYou may as well be ĎThe Road Warriorí.Ē I liked the part with the ďwarriorĒ. The ďwarriorĒ part really kind of stuck with me. I liked that name better than ďThe GentlmanĒ name, so I switched it and I said, ďOkay, Iím no longer ĎThe Gentlemaní, I want to be ĎThe Warriorí nowĒ. So I took on the nickname ďThe Road WarriorĒ, but ďThe GentlemanĒ never leaves me. Itís still attached. Now I just carry both of them and Iím quite happy with both of them. Thatís pretty much the story of how I got those names.
CIANI: Youíve had a long career, youíve had some ups and downs, and youíve reached the highest pinnacle of the sport at one point. When you look back at your career if there was one thing you could do differently, one decision that you could change, what would it be?
JOHNSON: You know I probably would fight, instead of being a Jamaican fighter I would have the background of a Jamaican and I probably try and disguise it and be an American fighter. I believe I would get better opportunities and better breaks with close decisions and stuff. It was what my original coach wanted me to do. He said, ďIf anyone interviews and asks you where youíre from, just tell them your parents were Jamaican but you were born here in this country and youíre an AmericanĒ. I told him, ďNo, Iím not going to do that. Iím just going to say Iím a Jamaican and roll with the punches and see what happensĒ. He had the foresight and I didnít. That would be the only thing I would change. I would go with his opinion and his decision over my own.
JENNA: Well Glen, we have just a couple of more questions before we let you off the line. My Co-Host brought up about your career the ups and downs, but how would you ultimately like to be remembered by the fans that have recognized you and followed you throughout your career?
JOHNSON: Just that I came in and I fought hard and I tried my best in every fight and I always fought the best fighters. I never shied from any fight. I never turned down a fight because the opponent was too tough or too difficult. I took on all the challenges and they can watch it for themselves and they can come up with their own decisions, because I donít agree with all of the decisions. Some of them I lost but not as much as they say I did. I would just like all the fans to watch each fight and have their own winner and not just listen to what the judges say.
JENNA: Okay well Glen youíre 42 years old now. How long do you see yourself continuing to fight at an elite level?
JOHNSON: You know that is a question that I get often and I donít know the answer to, because for me itís just as long as I can still do it. My body will tell me when itís time to quit and it hasnít said that yet. So Iím going to keep going until it says it and I donít know if thatís tomorrow, a week from now, a year from now, or two years from now, or anything. But as long as I can continue to do it on a high level and please the fans and compete the way Iím competing right now I will continue.
JENNA: If youíre unsuccessful against Carl Froch, will you be staying at the 168 pound division or will you be moving back up to light heavyweight?
JOHNSON: You know I believe I will stay at 168 because there is nothing at light heavyweight. Everybody at light heavyweight I already fought. I already went through that weight class so I think 168 is where Iíll be.
JENNA: What is your official prediction for your fight against Carl Froch on June 4?
JOHNSON: Thatís an easy one. Glen Johnson. Iím looking for the knockout but even if itís a decision I believe I will win that just the same.
JENNA: Okay and finally, is there anything you want to say to the listeners of On the Ropes and all of your fans out there?
JOHNSON: Sure, I appreciate all the support over the years and I love that I am given the opportunity to try and please the fans with hard boxing and to try and do it the right way. All the people that I can please, I thank you for your supports and for the ones that I didnít please I am sorry.
JENNA: Alright well Glen, itís been outstanding having the chance to interview you today. Thank you for your time and we wish you all the best in your upcoming fight against Carl Froch.
JOHNSON: Thank you so much. I appreciate that.
CIANI: Thanks Glen. Best of luck.
JOHNSON: Alright man. I appreciate it. Bye.
For those interested in listening to the Glen Johnson interview in its entirety, it begins approximately one hour and twenty minutes into the program.
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Article posted on 04.04.2011
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