By Boxing Bob Newman
Photo: Gankor Promotions
This Friday on ESPN’s Friday Night Fights, coming from Montreal’s Bell Centre, Romanian born, Montreal resident Ionut “Jo Jo Dan” Ion opens the show against former world champion Steve “Two Pound” Forbes, gaining his first real U.S. T.V. Exposure. With a difficult name to pronounce, his handlers decided to take the first syllable “Io” and replace it with the easier “Jo.” Iounut Dan Ion became “Jo Jo” Dan. Already ranked #3 by the WBC at welterweight, Dan looks to solidify that ranking, and burn his name into the consciousness of fight fans world wide, who until now, may not know much about the former 6-time Romanian national champ and bronze medalist at the 1997 European Junior games. Dan took time to talk to Fightnews about his upcoming opportunity.
Jo Jo, you’re returning to the ring this Friday on ESPN’s Friday Night fights against former IBF Super Featherweight champion, Stevie Forbes. Are you looking forward to getting airtime on U.S. Television as well as around the world?
Very happy to have this opportunity, I thank my promoter Chris Ganescu of Gankor Promotions who put this together with Yvon Michel’s GYM Promotions, especially that is on US television and I will definitely look to make a good impression to boxing fans in the USA and around the world!
On paper, Forbes is your most experienced opponent to date, a former world champion, albeit at a lighter weight. How do you view him and your fight plan heading toward Friday?
It’s true that Steve Forbes record looks much more impressive than of any of my previous opponents and I have respect for him but on Friday I will be in charge, I had a good preparation and I will overwhelm him; together with my trainer Pierre Bouchard I worked out a fight plan to beat Forbes, tune in on Friday to see it!
It looks like you’re staying at welterweight now, after bouncing back and forth between 140lbs. and 147 lbs. What prompted this decision? Was it getting difficult to make 140 lbs?
My last couple of fights at 140 lbs, I was having a tough time to make weight. Then I got this opportunity to fight at 147 lbs for the mandatory position, a fight in which I did well despite the result. I could have returned at 140 lbs where I was well ranked but I decided against it. I felt well fighting at 147 lbs, my training is better and I feel much stronger. I am here to stay!
The WBC has you ranked at #3 behind Floyd Mayweather (#1) and Selcuk Aydin (#2). Do you feel it’s only a matter of time before you get a shot at the WBC title?
Yes, Berto is the WBC champion and I would love to fight him. I almost got that opportunity last November, I was on his short list for his optional defense but they chose Hernandez because he was better known to American fans and he looked terrible losing a 1st round KO. I look forward to change that by fighting on ESPN so next time they look for an opponent they don’t use that excuse anymore!
I want to bring up a sore subject in the fighter ranked just ahead of you at #2, Selcuk Aydin. You fought him at welterweight in an official eliminator on his home turf in Istanbul, Turkey. By all accounts, you were robbed blind. Talk about that night, suffering your first professional loss.
To me it’s only a loss on paper. Whoever saw that fight knows who the winner was!…I felt I did enough to get a decision and I was sure at the end that I would be the WBC Silver champion and mandatory to Andre Berto but only one judge saw it right by a huge margin 116 to 111 in my favor! Despite the official result, I am happy with my performance there and the experience helped me gain confidence in my abilities.
Depending on how things play out in the title picture, you could face him either for the title, should he get in the ring with, and upset Andre Berto, or under some other circumstances. How badly do you want to even the score with him?
Honestly, I don’t feel I have to even the score with him. I beat him already in his home town! I am past that. He should try to get a fight with me to clear the controversy with that fight, but I doubt he wants anything to do with me again. I hear he does not want Berto either. He is happy collecting step aside fees, now twice in a row!
You’ve fought your pro career back and forth between Canada and your home land of Romania. How at home do you feel in Quebec, and Canada in general?
Montreal, Quebec, Canada is my second home, I lived in Toronto for a few years when I came to Canada. I feel great here, boxing fans appreciate and support me, I am glad to have the opportunity to fight at the Bell Centre!
Has it helped to have several fellow countrymen/boxers who made the move over from Romania to Canada like Lucian Bute, Adrian Diaconu and Leonard Dorin, all former or current world champions?
Yes, their results, especially their championships inspire and motivate me!
How would you assess the following champion and potential opponents in your division:
WBC champion Andre Berto: Great Champion, sorry I did not get to fight him last November but I look forward to become his mandatory and he will have no choice but to fight me! I will not interested in step aside fees like others!
WBO champion Manny Pacquiao: Best boxer in the world! Southpaw like me, we will make an exciting fight.
WBA champion Vyacheslav Senchenko: I don’t know much about him, seems a protected fighter back in the Ukraine. If the opportunity comes I will not hesitate to fight him, but if I would have to go overseas again I would not leave it to the judges. I will KO him!
IBF Champion Jan Zevak: Same story as Senchenko; likes to stay away from real challenges. I hear he fights next week against Paul Delgado.
If you had your choice to fight any of the above champions, does one’s style suit you over the others?
Manny Pacquaio. It will be a war, boxing fans will love it!
Do you look forward to being Romania’s fifth world champion in the near future?
Yes, it’s my goal to become another Romanian world champion and fight the best of my division!
Any last words for fans tuning in on Friday who might not be familiar with you yet?
Don’t miss my fight with Steve Forbes on FNF this Friday. I hope he is ready as well as I am. Ten rounds or less of action! I look forward to making new fans with my performance!