Ronald Johnson aims to make statement!
Story by Antonio Castro
Cleveland’s own Ronald “The American Dream” Johnson (10-1, 3 KOs) will return to his hometown Saturday night to take on WBC USNBC light heavyweight titlist Billy “The Billy Goat” Bailey (9-4, 3 KOs). The bout will be the co-featured fight as part of the Latin Invasion pay per view from the Wolstein Center at Cleveland State University.
Along with fighting in the co-main event, Johnson also will serve as the co-promoter, benefiting his “Put down the guns, pick up the gloves” organization. Johnson has been involved with many business deals outside of the ring, which explains his two year absence from fighting. He considers himself a business man first, a boxer second.
“I’ve been putting together my different business deals because I refuse to just sign a weird contract. I want to be able to box on my own terms. I wasn’t really having the chance to concentrate on the business side of things to get back into the ring. Now, I’m able to get back into the business side of things and promote my own fights,” Johnson explained.
It was through a business meeting a few years ago that brought Johnson together with the promoter of Saturday’s card, Zef Ramirez.
“I met Zef about five years ago, before he even got into boxing. We were talking about some real estate deals because he was into land development at the time and we hit it off from there. He ended up getting into boxing and I fought on his first promotion in December of 2005,” stated Johnson.
As for Johnson’s boxing future, he has a new team around him and feels that now is his best chance to make a mark in the sweet science. Yoel Judah will work the corner on Saturday night and Johnson feels that Judah and his team have made the necessary improvements for his game.
“Yoel Judah is definitely one of the best trainers out there. I’m sitting down a little more on my shots, but I’m also still boxing. He’s improved my all around game instead of making me one dimensional. I’m perfecting my jab. Every guy that I’ve boxed against, they get hit by at least 200 or 300 jabs during a sparring session. Mike McCallum too. He’s helped me a lot because I feel that he was one of the best boxers of all time. He’s been showing me how to snatch out to the body. It’s a perfect team. Crocodile is my conditioning coach and he controls the training camp. Fernando Soto is an assistant. He wraps my hands and makes sure my gear is proper,” said Johnson.
Despite not having a fight in over two years, Johnson has been in the gym training. He was scheduled to fight in May before the card fell through and has been in the gym ever since.
The pressure of fighting in their hometown often gets the better of some boxers. Johnson feels that he is not among them.
“I love fighting at home in Cleveland. I get a lot of fan support and it gives me a lot of motivation to work really hard. I definitely would like to bring boxing back to Cleveland, especially for the youth so we can try to keep boxing alive in northeast Ohio” Johnson stated.
Bailey should provide a tough test for the business savvy Jonson. He has lost three of his last five fights, but he’s already fought three times in 2009 and two of those three losses were by majority decisions. Bailey’s last five opponents have also had a win percentage of an astounding 95%. Johnson knows that Bailey will come to fight and he is not taking anything for granted.
“Billy Bailey is tough. He’s coming to Cleveland and he’s going to try to win this fight. I’ve heard he’s a very tough kid. I haven’t seen any film of him because I’m a fighter that doesn’t believe in watching film of my opponents,” Johnson said.
Why doesn’t Johnson watch film of his opponents?
“There are two reasons why. I don’t think that the guy will fight me the same way and I also do it for methodical reasons. If I’m watching a guy fight and I don’t think he looks that good I may underestimate him a little bit. Also, if I watch a guy and he knocks his opponent out, I may give him too much respect in the ring. The only thing I like to know about my opponents is their height,” Johnson explained.
In order to go to the next level, Johnson is going to have to get by tough guys like Bailey.
“I want to look good. I want to make a statement on Saturday night. I would definitely like to get the knockout. If it comes, It comes, if it doesn’t it doesn’t. I feel that my fights are entertaining one way or another,” said Johnson.
The fighter known as the American Dream needs a statement win after being out of the ring for an extended period of time. There’s not a better place to do it then in his own back yard.