By James Slater: An interesting and possibly exciting heavyweight match-up will take place in Brisbane, Australia on March 18th, as Samoan slugger Alex Leapi will square off with once-beaten U.S heavyweight Kevin “KingPin” Johnson. This is the word according to invaluable website Fightnews.com.
The scheduled 12-rounder is a fight 32-year-old Leapai, 25-3-3(20) overall, but unbeaten in his last 17, sees as a way to earn some even bigger fights down the road. For Johnson, also aged 32 and 25-1-1(11) a win would ensure that he doesn’t become a forgotten fighter (he has fought just three times since his Dec. 2009 points loss to Vitali Klitschko).
Leapai has been making waves in the division recently. Exciting stoppage wins over U.S fighters Travis Walker (an absolutely great slugfest!) and Owen Beck have impressed, while big and hefty men such as Bob Mirovic and Evgeny Orlov have also been taken down by the 6.0” approx 235-pounder known as “Lionheart.” Some critics say Leapai is not big enough or tall enough to be able to beat the division’s elite, and some have questioned his boxing ability. However, there is no questioning Leapai’s power, his heart or his determination. A win over Johnson – especially a stoppage win which is just what Leapai is predicting – would go some way towards silencing the critics.
Johnson looked poor in the Klitschko fight, disappointing many with his perceived lack of real effort, but the man from Atlanta, Georgia is a gifted boxer with a superb left jab. Against Leapai, Johnson will enjoy advantages in both height (6’3”) and reach (82” to Leapai’s 75”). Johnson may be a little rusty (last fighting in June of last year) and fighting in Australia will be something new to him, but one can see Johnson outboxing, maybe even schooling Leapai with his jab. For a while at least.
But will the rampaging local hero get inside and make things rough, perhaps too rough, for Johnson? Will this fight wind up being won by the man who wants it more? If it does, I have to favour the gutsy, warrior-like Leapai. But can Johnson be stopped? “KingPin,” did, after all, manage to avoid “Dr. Iron Fist’s” huge punches for all 12-rounds.
I think Johnson will win a number of the early rounds, perhaps even some of the middle rounds too – before the sheer work-rate, aggression and physical strength of Leapai turns the fight around late on. It’s Leapai for me, either by close points win or by late stoppage.
Now, on to those bigger fights Leapai has said he wants after he’s dealt with Johnson:
“After Johnson I would welcome fights against Robert Helenius and Tyson Fury in their hometowns if they will risk being KO’d,” Leapai said to Fightnews.
Kevin Johnson will be facing one ultra-determined individual on March 18th.