Reggie Johnson Interview - "I Want To Be In The Hall Of Fame!"

johnson29.10.07 - by James Slater: Former two-weight world champion Reggie Johnson, 42-7-1(25) has his first fight in over two years next month. Facing the super-tough Glen Johnson, the light-heavyweight will be boxing only his second bout in over five years. Refusing to call this a come-back and instead referring to it as a "get-back," as in get the title back, Reggie hopes to become the IBF 175 pound number one contender by defeating "The Road Warrior." If he can do it, a challenge of Britain's Clinton Woods could happen early next year. Becoming champion again, after already having captured titles at middleweight and light-heavyweight, will, Johnson hopes, put him in boxing's Hall of Fame.

Speaking to me late last week during a break from training, Reggie was most friendly and accommodating. Here is what the 41 year-old southpaw had to say..

James Slater: It's great to speak with you, Reggie. For my first question, why a come-back now?

Reggie Johnson: Well, I'll correct you there, sir. I never actually retired from boxing. I was inactive due to managerial problems, but I never actually retired. I don't call this fight with Glen Johnson a come-back, more of a "get-back." I want to get a title back and then go into The hall of Fame. I was present at The Hall a few years back and it inspired me to get my own name in.

J.S: How has training gone for the fight with Glen?

R.J: It's gone really fine. I feel ready right now, even though the fight is still a while away. I've been sparring with two heavyweights and the number 11 ranked light-heavyweight in the world - Chris Henry. I'm ahead of schedule for the fight.

J.S: What type of fight do you expect from Glen?

R.J: I expect a tough fight. Me and Glen are very similar fighters actually. We both are willing to fight anyone, anywhere. Other guys don't seem to want to face us, so we are facing each other. I know Glen will try and come on strong late in the fight, but I will be too smart for him. I always thought I'd fight him one day. I thought it would have been at middleweight, when we were both seemingly on a collision course, but for some reason it didn't materialise until now.

J.S: At your current age do you feel just as fast, just as sharp?

R.J: Yeah, I feel as fast and as sharp. I don't know how you guys [in England] look at the age of forty, but over here in America we call it the new 30. I've just turned 41, so I feel good. I'm very fortunate in that I've been blessed with a good chin. As you know, that cannot be taught, you either have a good chin or you don't. My defence is good too, I guess you could call me an all-rounder.

J.S: Assuming you get past Glen, what next?

R.J: Well, there's a guy over there in the U.K, Clinton Woods. I'll be his mandatory challenger next year [with a win over Glen Johnson] and it's possible that fight could be over in England. Of course, I'd rather it was in America, I've fought abroad before and sometimes I've had bad decisions go against me.

J.S: What do you think of Woods as a fighter?

R.J: He's champion of the world, so it would be foolish of me to say he can't fight. I tuned into his last fight, with Julio Gonzalez, who used to be my sparring partner, and I saw some things in that fight. Some things that I'll be able to take advantage of and some things he does real well. I respect him, but all of that will go out of the window come fight time.

J.S: You've had a great career already. Just talking about all the big names you've fought and defeated, are there any fights that stick out in your memory above others?

R.J: Of course, the James Toney and Roy Jones fights. I actually felt I'd done more than enough to have beaten Toney. I knocked him down with a left cross in round two. I think it was a bad decision. With Roy Jones, he was the only fighter to have ever totally shut me down, skill-wise. The two knockdowns I suffered in that fight, I felt the first was a slip, but the second time I was legitimately knocked down and I had to get up, which I did. I fought Jones when he was at his very best and I was just a step behind him.

J.S: What are your memories of your fight with Steve Collins of Ireland?

R.J: Oh, the great Steve Collins. That was one of my toughest fights. He is like Glen Johnson in that he was willing to fight anyone, and he's also a great guy. That fight was when I first became champion of the world [at middleweight]. The loss to John David Jackson was another bad decision and I lost my world title. That was a wild fight - two Americans fighting in Argentina!

J.S: So then you moved up to light-heavy and KO'd William Guthrie. Why no fights at 168?

R.J: The original plan was to move up to 168, but an opportunity to fight Guthrie for the title came up and we took it. It took a lot of hard work to get up to 175 pounds, but I'm a natural light-heavyweight now. The KO over Guthrie was a real brutal knockout.

J.S: And then after losing to Jones you fought Antonio Tarver in an elimination bout. Was that split decision against you fair?

R.J: I felt Tarver won that fight fairly, yes. I didn't do enough in that fight.

J.S: That is brutally honest of you. You have definitely had some bad verdicts go against you though - the two with Jorge Castro, for example. How do you keep the motivation going today after such a long career?

R.J: My motivation is to get my call for the Hall of Fame. I want to be world champion for a third time, that motivates me. I feel I'm better now, too. Put it this way, I'm much better now than I was at age 25 or 30. What I've really learnt over the years is how to win a fight in the gym, by preparing to win before the fight. I can knock guys out cold as a light-heavyweight.

J.S: It's been great talking with such a great fighter such as yourself and I wish you all the best for November 17th. For my final question, do you give any prediction for the fight with Glen?

R.J: My only prediction is that I will win and in great style.

Article posted on 30.10.2007

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