Exclusive Interview With Kevin Johnson

“I Will Fight Twice More This Year“ – Kevin “Kingpin” Johnson scored an upset win in Germany on Saturday night in stopping former cruiserweight champ Yoan Pablo Hernandez in the seventh round. 40 year old Johnson, 35-17-1(19) and stopped just three times, is now looking at capitalising on the big win. Closing in on retirement after 17 long years in the sport, Johnson says he is looking at big fights and how he plans to fight twice more before the end of the year.

Johnson was kind enough to speak with ESB yesterday:

Q: Congratulations on the win over Hernandez. You were more aggressive than usual in the fight?

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Kevin Johnson. “Thank you. Yeah, I put it on him. I was in great shape. I had fought just a couple of months before (dropping a decision to Mariuz Wach). I actually broke my finger in the first round. I went back to the corner and I knew something was wrong. Then I got butted. I had every excuse to quit but I wasn’t gonna do that; I’d worked too hard.”

Q: You’ve never quit in any fight.

K.J: “No sir. I’ve rarely been stopped. And I’ve never been knocked out cold or anything like that, and I never will be. If the referee stops it, okay, I accept his decision. But no, knocked out, never. With the Martin [Bakole] fight, I had surgery before that fight, the only time in my career that I’ve had surgery. I could barely lift my arm up (Johnson being stopped in the 5th round in October of last year).”

Q: What’s next for you?

K.J: “I’m not looking at fighting for too much longer, but I want to really make my mark before I’m done. I will have two more fights this year. It won’t be long before I retire. I’ve got my real estate business in America, I have young fighters, I’m opening a gym. What time will I have for boxing? The win [over Hernandez] opened some doors so we’ll see what happens, but I want big names. The thing about being in Germany is there is no B.S here, no distractions. There is nothing to do but train. It’s a case of train, eat, sleep, and shit here! I’ll be back in the gym today. In a lot of my fights, I beat myself. I wasn’t motivated and in top shape. Staying active is the key. That’s why Floyd Mayweather was so great, because of the hours he put in in the gym.”

Q: Did you see the Povetkin win over Dillian Whyte?

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K.J: “I would love to fight Povetkin. I don’t know if he’ll do it. Yeah, I saw the fight. Whyte traded with Povetkin, as I knew he would and that’s why he lost. You have to stick to the game-plan to beat Povetkin. You have to have a great team around you. Even Joshua almost got sloppy against Povetkin, but AJ stuck with his game-plan. I’ve sparred Povetkin and you can’t underestimate Povetkin’s power.”

Q: You’ve fought quite a few British heavyweights. Who impressed you the most?

K.J: “I like Daniel Dubois. He’s the real deal. I can see him going all the way. His power is for real.”

Q: You took him the distance though. How did Joshua manage to stop you so quickly when no-one else has ever managed it?

K.J: “No excuses, and don’t fight the guy on the ropes (laughs). But before that fight I got a phone call, telling me AJ was gonna have a tune-up fight instead of fighting me. They said keep training and we’ll pay your expenses. Then, I got another call, telling me he was having another tune-up fight. So I stopped training and then I got another call telling me the fight was on in three weeks. I got with Peter Fury and we did the best we could but it was such short notice. You remember Joshua had a few tune-up fights before he fought me (two in fact, against Jason Gavern in April, then against Raphael Zumbano in May, before Joshua fought Johnson in May of 2015).”

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Q: You put younger fighters to shame by being so active….

K.J: “I’ll fight anyone, any time, anywhere! Staying active is the key as I said. I want to really make my mark before I’m done so that when I’m an old man I’ll be able to look back on social media and take a look back at what I managed to accomplish in boxing.”

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