Jhonny Gonzalez/Mark Johnson Conference Call Transcript

16.02.06 - Jhonny Gonzalez: I am Mexico City right now and I am doing all of my preparations in my gym. My gym is open air in the middle of the street and that is where I have trained since I was a little kid. Reporters, friends and sponsors stop by to watch me train in the middle of the street..

Mark Johnson: Everything is going great and I am just ready to go. First I would like to say congratulations to the Gonzalez camp on winning the title. And thanks to them for giving me the opportunity to become the four-time world champ because if it wasnít fort those guys I wouldnít be in this position.

Mark, do you look at this as your last chance at a world title?

Mark Johnson: Of course it will be my last chance at a world title shot. You know what they say: out with the old and in with the new. We have to think like that, in boxing a lot of people always think that that next fight is always going to be there. I have been sparring with Peterson and Barry Linby. And Lamont who is fighting Friday on ESPN.

Jhonny Gonzalez: I have had southpaw sparring. They are very fast and very skilled boxers that move around and have the style like Mark Johnson - three southpaw fighters that have a very similar style to Mark Johnson.

My first step is next week against Mark Johnson and I want to have a good performance on HBO in front of a good audience. Then I want to move up to 122 and get bigger fights like Vazquez or Rafael Marquez. Marquez has said he doesnít want to fight anymore at 118, so Jhonny is willing to chase him up to 122 to be a bigger bout.

Mark Johnson: I want to thank the Jhonny Gonzalez camp because we wouldnít be in this situation and that says a lot about a great champion that he is willing to take on anybody and everybody to show that he is the best at 118 and I would like to thank his team and de la Hoya.

Is weight as issue for this fight, or as you get older?

Mark Johnson: Right now, I donít have to come down as much as when I was fighting at 115. Since I am older now, I know by body a lot better. I think going into the Marquez fight we had a lot of ups and downs in camp and of course you know we had a controversial decision in the first fight and in the second fight I was going through family problems and a divorce. But I make no excuses about it. This time at 118, you donít get an opportunity to be a four-time world champion in three different weight classes. So many fighters have tried and failed. I am one of those fighters that looks for the opportunity and that opportunity is right at my finger tips.

I watched Gonzalez and he is good, he was great in that fight (his last) and very strong. Now I am 100% and Iím ready to go. Then I had a torn triceps muscle in my left arm.

How do you feel about self-promotion?

Mark Johnson: It is hard for fighters to promote themselves. Fighters like me in the lower weight classes, we need promoters because we are not getting the 9 or 10 or 2 million dollars so we need guys like the Loud DiBellaís and de la Hoyaís that are legitimate. Of course this is a big leap for him in the 188-pound division and not only is it a great leap, you have Mark Johnson, who is older and he lost his last fight, so lets give him a big leap and thatís what they are doing. Any sport you are in it is always, out with the old and in with the new.

Do the naysayers motivate you?

Mark Johnson: I am a professional at everything I do. Some people say that I am over the hill. That doesnít motivate me. What motivates me is trying to become a 4-time world champ in three different weight classes. Trying to do something that hasnít been done since Sugar Ray Leonard.

If you lose the fight, is that it?

Mark Johnson: You know, every fight, I say, ďI donít know.Ē We always say we are one punch away from losing., thatís how boxing is. I would like to try to do some things with DiBella, try managing. Try to make it on their team if I am not successful. People always say that a great fighter has one great fight left. Hopefully this will be my one great fight and me and Jhonny Gonzalez will put on a great show.

Jhonny, will you anything different against Johnson?

Jhonny Gonzalez: It has been a special tribute to fight Mark Johnson. Heís going to come out and do a lot of things. Heís going to move a lot and use a lot of the ring. He is very experienced. We did our preparation different this time for Mark Johnson.

Is there a story behind the way he spells his first name?

Jhonny Gonzalez: There was an error when my dad put me on the register in Mexico. There was an error where the put the letter H. Thatís why it is spelled that way. But that has helped people recognize me a little more because my name is misspelled.

Mark, do you have a preference of fighter that youíd like to fight?

Mark Johnson: The only problem I would have is that heís a southpaw. If youíve watched my career, Iíve been fighting those types of guys. A lot of those guys are strong, hard punchers and they would have taken the ring away. Make no mistake about it, it is going to be a great fight. Iíve watched him coming up and heís a great fighter and styles make fights and he has one of those styles that will make a great fight.

Compare this to the Mintiel fight?

Mark Johnson: It is almost the same thing. They were building Fernando Montiel and I got in great shape and I beat him. There is always a situation where they want to build young fighters against older names and this is almost the same thing.

Do you want to get him into the late rounds?

Mark Johnson: That is one of the things that is never discussed. Do we want to take him late and them drown him. I will go in there and see how it goes and we will deal with it. I am just going to go in there and be a true professional and a true fighter and a boxer and win the fight - whatever it takes to do that. Thatís what I am trying to do.

How do you feel about this fight?

Mark Johnson: I donít think I would have signed this fight if I was just looking for a good fight. I want to become four-time world champion. Make no question about it. Rafael Marquez moving up to 122. Who wins this fight is the No. 1 guy for 118. This is a great opportunity for me to become a four-time world champion. Every fight I go out I give it my all. Iím not the type of fighter that looks to give a great fight Ė I fight to win. And I look forward to giving a great show. This shows a lot about Jhonny Gonzalez, eve though I am at the age I am. Look at the fighters that wouldnít fight me, like Michael Carbajal, Roberto Gonzalez, Tony Ayala, Boneless Adams, Danny Romero. So it says a lot about the de la Hoya people and Jhonny Gonzalez and the heart he has to step in the ring with me. I am overwhelmed by this opportunity to become four-time world champ.

Jhonny Gonzalez: Mark, we are very thankful for you thanking us for giving you the opportunity. Jhonny respects you also, thatís why he took the fight because he respects your career and all that you have done in boxing.

Article posted on 16.02.2006

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