06.12.03 ĖBy Pat Lanier: Kirk Johnson (34-1-1 with 25 Kos) will be a underdog when he faces the 6í8Ē Vitali Klitschko in a 12 round WBC eliminator bout at Madison Square Garden. The fight will be televised by HBO, beginning with a good undercard bout between unbeaten Heavyweight Joe Mesi and Monte Barrett at 9:45 P.M. EST. The winner will become the mandatory challenger to the belt now held by Lennix Lewis. This showdown could very well determine the divisionís immediate future.
Article posted on 06.12.2003
Johnson, a previous member of the 1992 Canadian Olympic team, is in a precarious situation after losing his previous shot at a title when he was disqualified for low blows against John Ruiz. In that fight, Johnson was close to being knocked out by the feather-fisted Ruiz before the fight was stopped by the referee after Johnson repeatedly hit Ruiz below the belt. In that bout, Johnson later said that he had over-trained for Ruiz, but to the average person, one look at Johnsonís ample, stretch marked scarred midsection, told the real truth that Johnson was out of shape.
At yesterdayís weigh-in, Johnson stepped on the scales wearing three layers of clothing, and it was announced that he weighed 260lbs, which to some, seemed like a trick by Johnson to try and lull Klitschko into thinking he was out of shape, but if itís Johnsonís true weight, this fight will likely be over before the 6th round. For Johnson, who is no stranger to the refrigerator, this may be an obvious sign that he has not trained nor taken Klitschko seriously.
In comparing common opponents for Klitschko and Johnson, the comparison doesnít make Johnson look too good. Klitschko (32-2, 31 Kos) completely dominated Larry Donalds before knocking him out in the 10th round last November in Germany. Johnson, however, barely was able to win a 12 round unanimous decision against Donalds, who boxed circles around Johnson and turned his face into swollen mass of flesh.
Despite of Johnsonís weight problems, if he comes in mentally prepared, he may give Klitschko a tough battle. A good example in his 2001 bout with Oleg Maskaev, when he knocked out Maskaev with a sneaky hook. If Johnson can get close enough to Klitschko, then he can end the fight with one blow.
Johnson is a good fighter and a lot of people are picking him to win tonight. But I think Klitschko has too much size and power to take him to victory.