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My Night: Light-heavyweight legend Marvin Johnson on the best performance of his career

Marvin Johnson
Marvin Johnson discusses his fights with Victor Galindez and Matthew Saad Muhammad

WELL, probably the best night for me as far as my boxing career is concerned was the night I knocked Victor Galindez down and was victorious over him. Even the idea of putting him on his back was very unusual because I don’t think he had ever been knocked down. So that made me feel good.

The punch that put him down was a straight left. I was left-handed and the punch wasn’t as straight as I hoped it would be. It was more of an overhand left, but it did what it needed to do.

Although Galindez was known to intimidate his opponents before his fights, he didn’t try to do that with me. What I remember actually was my momma came to that fight and he spoke very politely and respectfully to my momma and kissed her on the hand. That was the only time I saw him really before the fight. He didn’t say anything to me but I remember that. I think it was when we were in a lift leaving the weigh-in. I’ll always remember that he spoke to my momma.

But I felt good going into the fight. The crowd was excited that night, that’s for sure. They were for the champion and I don’t think that was unexpected. He was a great champion and he had a lot of fans at the fight but when I hit him and knocked him down they became Marvin Johnson fans.

But I was a little bit surprised during the fight because after I had got into it with him and we had traded some punches he became more sneaky and very crafty. So when I threw my punches I had to cover up quickly because he was an excellent counter-puncher. Maybe because of that I was even more surprised when I was able to knock him down in the later rounds. I had never expected that against Galindez. I had always had it in my mind that it was going to go all the way.

He was one of the best, no doubt, and that’s why I feel it was my greatest moment. He had been a champion for years. I’m more proud of that victory than those over any of the champions I faced. But I’ve never watched it. I’ve got it, it’s down in the library. But I’ve just never watched it. And I never saw him again afterwards. It wasn’t long after that he retired from boxing, went into race-car driving and lost his life.

Had that not happened I thought he was going to seek a rematch. We lost a great boxer. Boxing took a great loss when we lost Galindez.

My second most memorable night in boxing was against Matthew Saad Muhammad [l rsf 12 – July 26, 1977]. I was fighting a good fight, but ended up losing in 12 rounds, and I really think I had him. It was a back-and-forth fight and it has stayed on my mind. Had it gone to the judges it would have been interesting how it would have turned out. I think about that fight a lot. It was a great fight.

I just didn’t make it through the last round. I was totally exhausted.

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