By Matt Thompson
Glen Johnson will step in the ring for the sixty-second time of his 16-year career tonight when he battles challenger Daniel Judah at the Hard Rock Live in Hollywood, Florida. Few professionals in boxing today have this kind of experience, particularly at the level of “The Road Warrior.” Johnson fought for his first title shot against Bernard Hopkins 12 years ago. Since the Hopkins fight, Glen Johnson has been in with the who’s who in the super middleweight and light heavyweight division including his signature knockout win over Roy Jones, Jr., and decisions over Antonio Tarver and Clinton Woods earning him 2004 fighter of the year accolades. Recently FightNews had the opportunity to talk with the always charming former champ in Miami as he prepared for his rematch against Judah.
FIGHTNEWS: Glen, you are still ranked on top pretty much across the board, and we know your manager and promoter are working on a title fight for you. Why take these smaller fights, some off TV, with opportunity of bigger fights right around the corner?
JOHNSON: I do this for many reasons. The exposure on tv is very important. Everyone watches the ESPN Friday Night Fights. It keeps my name and face out there. I need to keep my fans interested. I also like to stay in the gym and fight as often as possible to keep the rust off. I may be 40, feel like I’m 25, so staying active has worked so far.
FIGHTNEWS: You are fighting a rematch with Daniel Judah, a fight that ended in a draw the first time you fought. What does this fight mean to you?
JOHNSON: It gives me a chance to set the record straight. I’ve been watching the tape of the first fight, and I won it easily and got robbed. After the fight, he and his father came over and congratulated me. Watch the look on his face when they announced a draw. He was shocked. The audience chanted “Bull****” for ten minutes.
FIGHTNEWS: What do you remember about the circumstances of that fight?
JOHNSON: I really didn’t know anything about him going in. It was just another fight, and I knew that I could beat anyone. What I do remember is that the money was nowhere what we deserved, so we challenged him to fight winner take all. We actually came to an agreement to do it, but the promoter or the commission wouldn’t let us. Being a draw, we would have kept our own purse. I wondered if that’s why it was scored that way.
FIGHTNEWS: Where do you see yourself in the division at the moment?
JOHNSON: Everyone has me in the top few spots. The WBC has me at #2; the WBO and WBA rank me at #3; and the IBF has me at #5. Somehow they have Tavoris Cloud at #1. I sparred with him once. I won’t tell you how that went. Hopefully, I will get another shot. It may be Diaconu. Everyone knows I beat Dawson, and instead of giving me the rematch I deserve, he’s fighting Tarver again. The first fight wasn’t even competitive, so why are they fighting again? Erdei is solid, but who is Hugo Garay? Nobody here has every seen him, but yet, he’s a champ. What’s wrong with that picture?
FIGHTNEWS: What do you still want to accomplish in the sport?
JOHNSON: I still have some good fights left, and I will keep going at the level I’m at. I want to use boxing to create a future for myself and my family by making enough money to set up a successful business for myself to turn my attention to after boxing is over. Those are my goals.
FIGHTNEWS: Do you have after boxing plans?
JOHNSON: I had wanted to do home renovations and construction. I was in construction as my trade for many years, but with the housing market as it is, and probably will be for the immediate future, I am looking in other directions. I’ve always been interested in promotions. Not boxing, though. Music, maybe. People always need entertainment.
FIGHTNEWS: Once you stop fighting, will you remain in boxing in other aspects? We’ve seen you as a tv commentator, and you do a great job.
JOHNSON: I’ve done a few shows now, and I like it. I think I’m very honest and respectful to fighters. I have been in boxing a long time, and understand how fighters feel, and I think I bring that to my broadcasts. I’d love to do as much broadcasting I can, but there just isn’t that much work, and you are at the mercy of someone else. I’ll try to do as much of it as is available, but I want to have my own business as well. That way, I have only myself to depend on.
FIGHTNEWS: Would you move into training as so many other fighters have?
JOHNSON: Probably not. I’ve seen too much heartbreak and disappointment in this sport, I don’t know that I want to see any more.
FIGHTNEWS: How do you see the state of boxing, overall?
JOHNSON: It’s a shame, but it has lost so many fans; they are tired of the same old thing. Unjust decisions and one-sided fights. It’s hard to see a fight, especially a big fight, with the right guy winning. The guy they want to win does instead. They want to build stars, not show competitive fights where the guy who deserves the decision gets it. The fans are tired of it.
I am often asked if boxing is fixed- my answer is that it’s not fixed like you think it is, but over matching fighters and the politics of who is supposed to win usually determines the outcome. At the top level, where fighters abilities are usually very close, you don’t see blow outs. You see the guy that is supposed to win getting the decision because judges either don’t recognize the subtleties of the sport, or the network is building their new star.
FIGHTNEWS: How would you legitimize boxing again?
JOHNSON: Unbiased judging; competitive matches. Bring back real fights to the fans, at all levels. That’s what they want. Boxing can be the greatest sport in the world when it’s honest. TV needs to care more about the future of the sport for it to survive and compete against MMA.
FIGHTNEWS: How do you feel about MMA taking over a lot of the audience?
JOHNSON: It’s not surprising. The fights are usually competitive and decisive. The right guy usually gets the decision, and I think people relate to it. It’s a barroom fight between two guys who know how to fight that way. Everyone’s been in a fight before, and they didn’t move and jab and box- they threw punches and kicks and wrestled each other to the ground. People see MMA and think it’s like what happened to them behind the schoolyard when they were kids, but better. I think that’s why the average guy likes it- it is honest.
FIGHTNEWS: Back to this week, do you have a game plan set for Friday?
JOHNSON: I’m always hunting for the KO, but if it doesn’t come, it will be a long, punishing fight.
FIGHTNEWS: One thing we know we can count on from the Road Warrior, is an honest answer and an honest fight. Thanks champ.