A mid-life crisis for a fighter happens a lot earlier than for an accountant, but at 45 years young, the ageless “Road Warrior” Glen Johnson has been reflecting on his 21-year career.
Coming off two wins, including a one-sided boxing clinic over cruiserweight Bobby Gunn (25-5-1) in December, Johnson feels he is still not at the end of the road yet.
“Some fighters, they get old because of the way they live,” explains the always amiable Johnson from his Miami home, a few weeks after his 45th birthday. “I never drank or smoked, I’ve never used drugs, never got fat between fights. If I fight on Saturday, I’m back in the gym on Tuesday. I love training. This is my job, my vocation, and I work at it and have always tried to conduct myself as a professional in and out of the ring.”
Johnson has trained at Thump Fitness in Miami for several year and now he teaches fitness boxing to a variety of clients.
“Boxing has kept me young, I tell my people it will do the same to them.”
Fitness boxing has been a popular workout for decades, but has expanded its popularity in recent years.
Many former pro fighters have found a nice niche in the business.
Former pro Peter Welch, star of the Discovery Channel reality show “The Fighters” has done a great job in the Boston market making the jump, as has former Johnson nemesis Clinton Woods.
Johnson traveled to England three times to fight Woods for the IBF World title, finishing the trio of fights 1-1-1.
“I was 3-0 in that series. I’ve lost fights for sure, I admit, and have had some bad decisions I should have won. I beat Clinton all three of those fight.”
The frustration is evident when Johnson speaks of his trips to Sheffield and Manchester.
“First fight in 2003 they gave me a draw. I beat him at least 11 rounds of 12. The IBF realized this and mandated a rematch with judges from elsewhere. I won that fight.”
Johnson was able to capitalize on that win by hitting the Roy Jones, Jr. lottery.
Jones, coming off his first career loss to Antonio Tarver, looked at Johnson like a wolf at a sheep. Team Jones saw him as an easy fight, a game journeyman with a title they wanted to bring into the rematch with Tarver.
Unfortunately for Jones, Johnson didn’t see it that way.
Getting in the best shape of his career, Johnson beat Jones from pillar to post, knocking him out in frightening fashion in the 9th round (Sept 2004).
Johnson again was able to parlay the win into the second substantial payday of his career, facing Antonio Tarver three months after the Jones fight. Johnson kept to form, pressing Tarver for 12 rounds earning a decision victory and being recognized as Fighter of the Year (Dec 2004).
Johnson’s signature quote “I don’t claim to be the best, I just want to fight the best” became his mantra, facing Tarver again six months later, twice fighting Chad Dawson (the first being one of his robbery losses), Tavoris Cloud, Lucian Bute, Carl Froch, Alan Green, George Jones, Richard Hall, Andrzej Fonfara, George Groves and of course Clinton Woods again.
“That third fight with Woods was the worst of them, one of the three fights that still bother me. I beat him easily, and lost a terrible decision. Same in the fights with Silvio Branco and the first Dawson fight. I know I’ll never see them again, but I’d love to go back to England and fight Woods once more.”
Woods, who’s career as a personal trainer has kept him in great shape was unreachable for comment, but former manager/promoter Dennis Hobson was intrigued by the idea.
“They had a great trilogy, and ended at 1-1-1,” said Hobson. “Why not once more to settle it once and for all. Clinton is fit as a twenty year old. I wouldn’t mind seeing it happen.”
For Johnson, a fourth Woods fight would be on top of his hit list, but the other fight he’d love would be a rematch with equally ageless Bernard Hopkins.
“When I fought Hopkins, I was undefeated, but was still a baby,” remarked Johnson. “I was not experienced or seasoned yet. I had good defense, but didn’t know yet how to fight. He was already on top of his game. I’d love to have another chance now. Our ages are similar, we both take great care of ourselves, I think it would be a good fight. He’s fighting Beibut Shumenov next. He has, what, 15 fights? Shumenov looks to me like a tough novice amateur, he stands no chance against Hopkins. Bernard needs to fight someone that is as smart as he is, and that’s the Road Warrior.”