The Narrowing road for the Road Warrior
Glen Johnson gets rematch with Chad Dawson this weekend
Story by Matt Richardson
Photo by Chris Cozzone
For former light heavyweight champion Glen “The Road Warrior” Johnson, the path to significant, big money fights has been a rocky one. Filled with bumps and holes, bad decisions and worse luck, the 40-year old Johnson hasn’t had an easy road to the top.
But he keeps moving along, fighting hard; giving as good as he gets. The next stop in his tumultuous career will occur this Saturday against reigning champ Chad Dawson in a rematch of a debatable decision Dawson secured in April 2008. For Johnson, the rematch marks a rare opportunity, specifically the chance to right a wrong he feels has been done.
“I know I won the first fight,”says Johnson, 49-12-2, 33 KOs. “It’s not just me saying that. Pretty much, the whole world is saying it. I know that I did enough to win the fight. I’m certainly going to make some adjustments in the second fight on Saturday night.
"But again, we’re going to do a lot of the same and we’re going to make some adjustments on some things that didn’t work well enough in our favor the last time. So we’re going to tweak it a little bit and put on the whooping we intend to put on Dawson on November 7."
Originally, it looked like this rematch would not even occur. Thankfully, the powers that be came together and all parties signed on the dotted line. So was Johnson surprised he got another shot?
“No, I’m not surprised,” he says. “HBO made him do it. And I believe he had to do this fight or hit the road so he wasn’t left with much choice.”
Still, at 40 years old (he’ll be 41 in January) and with plenty of miles on his odometer, Johnson doesn’t have too many options left himself. As such, he said he trained especially hard for the rematch.
“Training’s been going good,” says Johnson, who held camp in Miami, Florida. “We’ve been in camp now three months and everything is going just the way we would like. We feel good, we’re excited and we’re looking forward to the fight on Saturday. Everything’s been going great. We’ve had a wonderful camp and we’re looking forward to an exciting fight.”
How exciting the fight turns out being depends on a variety of issues. Johnson said he has kept a close eye on Dawson since their first encounter and has noticed some changes in his opponent.
“I definitely see a lot of decline since I fought him,”says Johnson. “Certainly the two fights he had with Antonio Tarver were nowhere close to the fight that we had together. I’m not looking to fight the Dawson that fought Tarver. I’m looking to fight the better Dawson. I believe that he’s going to be more prepared and more ready and come in a better fighter. Because he knows he’s fighting a better fighter than Antonio Tarver so he has to come in more prepared.”
For his part, Johnson said he is prepared and ready to do battle. But, as usual, is concerned about boxing politics. The fight against Dawson will take place at the XL Center in Hartford, Connecticut, firm Dawson territory. And Johnson knows all too well the potential negative repercussions that could arise when fighting in an opponent’s backyard.
“I am concerned about getting a fair decision,” he admits. “Certainly, we know the history of this type of situation.”
“I just want the people to know that Gary Shaw (Dawson’s promoter), on a conference call that we had, spoke highly of how he had all intentions of getting Dawson in the ‘Super Six’ to replace Jermain Taylor. Just keep that in mind to see if there are any devious options in the judges. Keep a close eye on the judges - if they’re making a fair call or a crooked one. Because with that much thought of trying to get Dawson into the ‘Super Six’ it made me wonder if they have any intention to play fairly because we all know how this business can be crooked at times. But that’s my only message that I want to send to the people to make them aware of what possibly might happen.
“But I can only do one thing, and that is to step inside the ring and do my job and do it well and that’s what my intention is. I really have no control over the judges. If they can’t do their job then shame on them. My only strength is inside the ring and I am well prepared and ready to go out there and show what I can do.”
But with over 60 fights under his belt and his advanced age, how much longer can he continue to show what he can do? How much longer can he really fight? “
That’s a tough question,” he says. “I have no idea how long I can fight. Certainly they’re doing everything they can right now to try and cheat a 40-year old guy in Glen Johnson for a 27-year old guy in Chad Dawson. It shows how much I still have to bring to the table. And I think the 27-year old is closer to retiring than the 40-year old. Certainly, I don’t have to do any of things they are trying to do like selecting judges and being crooked. I’m not doing any of those things.
“The only thing I have is my boxing skills and that’s what I’m bringing to the table.”