WHEN Matchroom Boxing USA began their assault across the pond last year, we were promised that some of the British based fighters would be handed the opportunity to demonstrate their skills against some of the best fighters based in America. Callum Johnson has been one of the fighters to benefit most from the British based promotional company making waves in America, and the former British and Commonwealth light-heavyweight champion is thoroughly enjoying the opportunities that he has been handed.
Johnson dismantled Sean Monaghan in three rounds back in March, which served as the perfect recovery from losing his unbeaten record at the hands of IBF world champion Artur Beterbiev last October, where he was stopped in the fourth round of an entertaining battle.
Johnson said, “I’m just waiting at the moment for the next date and then it’s all systems go once again. I’m really enjoying the little trips over to America and I’m hoping they continue. Listening to everyone before the fight with Monaghan, it was supposed to be a tough test for me, so to do the job on him that I did was a good statement to make when it was meant to be a hard fight.
“It was no surprise to me or Joe [Gallagher, his trainer] though, as I knew that if I produced what I know I can do, then that would have been the end result. But it’s one thing knowing to actually doing it on the night. It showed a little bit of a different side to me as well, sticking behind the jab with sharp boxing because everyone seems to think I’m this big, strong banger but I proved I have the skills to go with it too.”
The light-heavyweight division is commonly regarded as one of the toughest in the sport. But Johnson remains unfazed by his potential opponents and is hopeful he will secure a shot at one of the champions sooner rather than later. High up on his wish list is a rematch with Beterbiev who recently retained his title against Radivoje Kalajdzic and maintained his perfect 100% knockout record at 14-0. Johnson is adamant that should the pair meet again, it will be a different result although he admits that it would not go the distance.
“I don’t mind what comes next, whatever comes really, but Eddie [Hearn, his promoter] said to me I’m probably going to be back over there again. I’m getting opportunities and good fights in the States, so I’m more than happy to take them. It’s one of, if not the hardest divisions to be a part of and all the top fighters are monsters,” Johnson said. “But I feel that I’m one of them as well and on the night, I’m more than capable of running with any of them. If you look down at the list of the top 10, 15 or even 20, they are all top fighters and at that weight, every single one of them can punch too, so it really is an exciting division to be a part of.
“Beterbiev is at the top for me and obviously brings a lot of power and strength but it’s that fearsome reputation more than anything. I think I let that reputation get to me a little bit, but now I’ve been there, I’d love the chance to have another crack at him.
“I’ll be better next time, more mentally prepared and I think it will be a different result next time but then I don’t think it’s one of those fights that will ever go to the judges. One of us will get knocked out, with us meeting in the middle of the ring, along with all the strength and power that we both possess, means it’s unlikely to go to points.”
The 33-year-old is likely beyond domestic level now but still maintains an interest in his British rivals. One such rival is Anthony Yarde, who appears to have been handed a shot at WBO champion Sergey Kovalev, with the June 29 in Russia the reported date.
Johnson, unlike many others, gives Yarde a chance in Russia against Kovalev, adding: “I’ve not heard a great deal about it recently but that’s sometimes a good thing so good luck to Anthony if it’s happening. If he goes out there and takes his chance to win the world title off Kovalev then fair play to him. It’s a tough fight but I think Kovalev is past his best years and we know Yarde can bang, so he’s definitely in with a chance of winning out there, so all the best to him.”