Over the years, the task of shifting Kevin “Kingpin” Johnson has proven an almost impossible one for even the elite heavyweights. Last night in Magdeburg, Germany, it was unbeaten Agit Kabayel’s turn to have to make do with a decision win over the super-crafty and durable 41 year old from New Jersey. Kabayel won a wide 12 round unanimous decision – 119-110 and 118-111, 118-111 – but the younger man failed to put a dent in Johnson.
Kabayel, the reigning European heavyweight champion, who has to his name a points win over Dereck Chisora, is now 21-0(13) and last night’s winning fight snapped an 11 month inactive spell. Johnson, who has taken everyone – from Vitali Klitschko to Tyson Fury, Filip Hrgovic, Kubrat Pulev, Daniel Dubois, to Andy Ruiz the distance, falls to 35-18-1(19). Johnson has been stopped just three times (by Anthony Joshua, Petar Milas and Martin Bakole) and he was coming off an August 2020 stoppage win over former IBF cruiserweight champ Yoan Pablo Hernandez.
Johnson, as if often his way, started slowly last night, allowing Kabayel to bag the early rounds. Johnson sprung to life in round six, when a volley of shots buzzed his 28 year old foe. Kabayel got through the mini-crisis and went back to winning the rounds. The best round of the fight was actually the final round, when both guys really went for it in exciting fashion. But by then it was too little too late for Johnson.
Will Johnson now call it a career? Don’t bet on it. And why should he? As for Kabayel, it would be nice to see him have a fight outside of Germany. How far Kabayel can go is a question that was in no way answered last night. Not a big puncher, the man from Leverkusen is a reasonably “small” heavyweight at 6’3” and around 235 pounds, but Kabayel has skills and he has the look of a durable fighter himself.
At age 28, Kabayel does have plenty of time on his side.