Goodbye To “The Road Warrior,” And Thanks For A Great Career - But Is Glen Johnson Hall Of Fame-Worthy?
James Slater: Jamaican-born warrior Glen Johnson announced his retirement from boxing last night, after dropping a wide ten-round UD to the much younger Andrzej Fonfora, and the amazing 43-year-old is the kind of guy who can be relied upon to keep his word: there will be no change of heart from this ultra-professional, no-nonsense guy.
Article posted on 14.07.2012
Johnson bows out with an somewhat loss-littered 51-17-2(35) ledger, but as fans know, a whole lot of Johnson’s defeats came as the result of a bad decision on the cards, or in some cases a blatant robbery. The former light-heavyweight king who also campaigned successfully as a super-middleweight turned pro way back in February of 1993 and his near-twenty year career saw him battle a who’s who of the 168 and 175-pound weight divisions. Wins over notable names such as Antonio Tarver (WSD12) Roy Jones Junior (WKO9), Montell Griffin (WTKO11), Clinton Woods (WUD12) and Allan Green (WTKO8) are sandwiched in between losses to guys like Bernard Hopkins (TKO by11 - the only stoppage loss on Johnson’s record), Merqui Sosa, Sven Ottke, Omar Sheika, Julio Cesar Gonzalez, and, in rematches, Tarver and Woods..
Towards the end of his career, before taking part in “The Super Six,” Johnson dropped two decisions to Chad Dawson as well as a close one to Tavoris Cloud, while during the Showtime tourney Glen lost to Carl Froch, and then afterwards, Lucian Bute and then Fonfara. Clearly, as one look at Johnson’s record will assure any fan, Glen always, always, always fought the very best. Picking up the more famous of his two nicknames in the late ‘90s, when Johnson (also known for a time as “Gentleman” Glen) fought everywhere from Germany to the U.K, and in a number of states in the U.S, the shaven-headed battler was hungry for a world title.
After the loss to B-Hop, which was a challenge for the IBF middleweight belt, Johnson lost an IBF super-middleweight title challenge to Ottke (the Nov. 1999 UD being one of Glen’s worst robbery defeats) and he then suffered more heartbreak as a light-heavyweight when, in Sheffield, England in November of 2003, he drew over 12 with local hero Clinton Woods. Most, if not all in attendance had Johnson winning the fight that contested the vacant IBF strap. Finally, in February of the following year, in a return with Woods, Johnson, at the age of 35, became a world champ - this time picking up the IBF crown with a decision win that was so wide no judges could deny him.
Johnson then enjoyed a real purple patch; beating Tarver and then destroying the once-great Jones. Now earning the big money, Johnson won a number of fight accolades also. The hard work and the refusal to give in when a number of lesser fighters would have quit was paying off.
A rematch loss to Tarver failed to dampen Johnson’s spirits too greatly, and the two points losses to “Bad” Chad also failed to finish Glen off (although he was hopping mad at the close loss in the first fight with Dawson, claiming, with much support, that he had been robbed once more). The loss to Cloud in 2010 could have been the end for Glen, but he soldiered on and had yet more success. Going DOWN in weight at a time in life when most fighters find it hard to shed the pounds, Johnson dropped to 168 and smashed Allan Green in his one and only “Super Six” victory. This win turned out to be Johnson’s last win. It wasn’t quite his last great effort, however.
Losing a close one to eventual “Super-Six” finalist Froch (one judge had it a draw after 12 action rounds), Johnson proved he could still hang with a young(ish) stud. Sadly, it was all downhill for Glen after the June 2011 battle. Losing widely to Bute in Canada and then to Fonfara in Chicago, Johnson had at last reached the end; with even his astonishing powers of recuperation draining from his body.
But Johnson goes out the way he came in: by fighting hard and with dignity. Very much a throwback fighter, Glen did it the old fashioned way and he proved that shining unbeaten records are not needed for a fighter to be respected, applauded and celebrated. Just imagine if Johnson had opted to quit back in, say, 2000, after suffering four straight losses? It’s to out benefit that Johnson did not bail out; the great fights he gave us having enriched this great sport.
Now, to the question asked in the title of this article: is Johnson Hall of Fame-worthy?
This is a tough one in my opinion. The large number of losses don’t look pretty on Glen’s record, but at least six of them could be described as robberies. Should a run of bad luck at the hands of the judges prevent Glen from being inducted at Canastota? What about the wins over Tarver, Jones, Woods and Griffin? What about the amazing run Glen had? What about his sheer longevity and refusal to quit? His incredible chin and fantastic work ethic? Qualities only the great ones possess, surely?
It’s a tough one, but I think the man who retired with that misleading record is deserving of joining the other former light-heavyweight champions who currently grace The Hall of Fame.
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