Kirk Johnson Begins Comeback vs. Gilbert Martinez

15.07.04 - By Kent Appel: This coming Sunday, July, 18, 2004 at the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, California, USA, heavyweight contender Kirk Johnson of North Preston, Nova Scotia, Canada hits the comeback trail against journeyman heavyweight Gilbert Martinez of Sacramento, California. Johnson enters the bout with a record of 34-2-1, 25 by KO while Martinez is 18-7-2, 7 by KO.

The Johnson verses Martinez bout is part of a live six bout card that is being promoted by Goossen Tutor Promotions that also features a CO feature IBF middleweight title elimination fight between the number two IBF contender Sam Soliman of Melbourne, Australia and the number four IBF contender Raymond Joval of Rotterdam, Netherlands.

The Soliman verses Joval match will be broadcast on a tape delayed basis in the United States on Fox Sports Network Sunday Night Fights on July 25, 2004, while the Johnson verses Martinez fight will be shown on August 1, 2004, also on Fox Sports Sunday Night Fights. Check your local listings for show times.

Johnson, 32, has a lot at stake in resuming his boxing career following his devastating second round knockout loss to current WBC heavyweight champion Vitali Klitschko this past December in a WBC title elimination bout. This one loss did a lot to bring down Johnson’s stock as a viable contender for the heavyweight championship because Johnson’s destruction was so one sided. Johnson needs to look good in defeating Martinez and in subsequent bouts leading to a possible title challenge to show he still belongs with the elite of the heavyweight division.

Johnson, who’s only other professional loss, was surrounded in controversy because he lost on fouls to WBA champion John Ruiz in 2002 in a sloppy affair that featured rough beyond the rules tactics by both fighters. He was still riding high in the division because there were doubts in that fight as to who the real winner would have and should have been. There were no such doubts in Klitschko’s total domination of Johnson and Johnson needs to reverse this trend.

A lot of the doubts regarding Johnson center on his weight, which was a whopping 260 pounds in his lost to Klitschko. This was seventeen pounds heavier than his previous high of 243 pounds in a victory over Lou Savarese in March 2003. It makes one wonder about Johnson’s training habits. Johnson, who is 6’3” tall, at least produced results prior to his demolition at the hands of Klitschko even if there were still critics who wondered if Johnson could be as effective as possible in the 240 pound range, let alone in the 260 pound range.

Of course anyone can get caught with a devastating punch or punches, as witnessed by Roy Jones Junior’s recent one punch knockout loss to Antonio Tarver in a light heavyweight title bout however, Johnson did not give himself his best chance of victory against Klitschko by tipping the scales so heavy. A lighter Johnson might have been able to avoid the very punches that knocked him out and he might have been able to tag Klitschko with punches of his own.

Martinez, 38 years old, is probably facing his last chance at the big time. Martinez, a southpaw, has wins over former WBA champion Tony Tubbs and fringe contender Charles Shufford but he suffered a recent knockout loss to Ray Austin in his last bout. Martinez also has held fringe contender Clifford Etienne to a draw.

Kirk Johnson had better be careful, even in this bout, because anything can happen in a heavyweight bout and it only takes one punch from a fighter over two hundred pounds to change the outcome of a fight, especially since Martinez knows it is likely his last shot at stepping out of the journeyman ranks, and he will likely be throwing caution to the wind. This and the fact that Martinez is a southpaw makes the outcome not completely absolute.

Article posted on 15.07.2004

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