Smaller Johnson takes stab at tournament quarry
By Lyle Fitzsimmons,
Contributing Boxing Editor
Ocala, FL (Sports Network) -
Some say size matters. And then there's Glen Johnson.
The 42-year-old Jamaican who began his pro career at 160 pounds and experienced his greatest success two divisions heavier will nonetheless try to reverse course Saturday night in Atlantic City.
After tipping the scales Friday at a noticeably thinner 166 1/2 pounds, Johnson makes a grab for the WBC super middleweight champion when he faces incumbent champion Carl Froch at Boardwalk Hall.
It's his second appearance since grabbing a spot in the injury-ravaged "Super Six" tournament organized by cable network Showtime, which will televise the main event as part of a 9 p.m. ET broadcast.
The Froch-Johnson bout will be preceded by a 12-rounder between former title- holder Mikkel Kessler and Mehdi Bouadla -- to be shown on same-day tape delay from Copenhagen, Denmark.
It's the lightest Johnson has been since September 2000, when he traveled to London for a sixth-round TKO of Toks Owoh to end a four-fight skid that had included a decision loss to IBF super middleweight champion Sven Ottke 10 months earlier in Germany.
Glen Johnson said, "I'm more concerned with what I'm going to do. I'm focused on my game plan and what I have to do."
"I wish I would have listened to my manager a long time ago and gone down (to 168) sooner," Johnson said. "But I think things happen for a reason. I'm just really, really excited for this opportunity.
"The main reason is that I didn't think I would be able to maintain that weight. I always felt like super middleweight wasn't who I was and I didn't want to put the strain on to make that weight."
Instead, he packed on a few pounds to fight among the elites at light heavyweight, where he defeated Clinton Woods for the IBF crown in February 2004 and defended one fight later with a brutal ninth-round stoppage of former champion Roy Jones Jr.
He won and lost the IBO's 175-pound belt against Antonio Tarver in his next two bouts and subsequently dropped title fights against Woods, Chad Dawson twice and Tavoris Cloud, before taking the open slot in the Showtime event after the departures of Kessler, Jermain Taylor and Andre Dirrell.
Johnson stopped Allan Green in eight rounds on Nov. 6 in Las Vegas to earn the shot at Froch, who entered the event with the WBC title and defended it by decision against Dirrell in the first round before losing it to Kessler via another scorecard nod in round two.
He defeated Arthur Abraham by yet another decision in his most recent fight on Nov. 27, again picking up the WBC belt that had been declared vacant when Kessler sustained an eye injury.
The 33-year-old UK native is 27-1 with 20 knockouts in a career that began in 2002.
Johnson, meanwhile, turned pro in 1993 and had his 29th bout in 1996 -- when Froch was 19.
He's 51-14-2 with 35 KOs.
"(Johnson is) a great fighter and a war horse and I won't disrespect him. He really knows what he's doing, but I would have rather fought Mikkel Kessler just purely for the revenge. I'm a warrior myself. It's a big thing for me to have lost that fight against Mikkel Kessler because I'm serious about this business and that blemish on my record, I'd love to get that corrected before I retire."
Saturday's winner will meet WBA champion Andre Ward in the Showtime final.
Ward, who won his crown from Kessler in a first-round tournament upset, has beaten Green and Abraham by unanimous decisions in second- and third-round fights.
He'll be part of the Showtime announce team at ringside in Atlantic City.
Not surprisingly, Johnson is confident it's him who'll soon be prepping for their date.
"I'm not concerning myself too much with what Carl Froch's plan is or what he's going to do, to be honest with you," Johnson said. "I'm more concerned with what I'm going to do. I'm focused on my game plan and what I have to do. I have a winning formula and I don't think Carl Froch is the one who can tell me different."
* * * * * * * * * *
TV TOPICS SATURDAY HBO -- Staples Center, Los Angeles, Calif. Sebastian Zbik (30-0) vs. Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (42-0-1) -- 12, WBC middleweight title Miguel Angel Garcia (25-0) vs. Rafael Guzman (28-2) -- 10, featherweights
Showtime -- Parken, Copenhagen, Denmark Mikkel Kessler (43-2) vs. Mehdi Bouadla (22-3) -- 12, super middleweights
Showtime -- Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, N.J. Carl Froch (27-1) vs. Glen Johnson (51-14-2) -- 12, WBC super middleweight title
Lyle Fitzsimmons is a veteran sports columnist who's written professionally since 1988 and covered boxing since 1995. His work is published in print and posted online for clients in North America and Europe. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter.