This is footage from Saturday's fight between South Florida's own Glen Johnson (in gold) and "Bad" Chad Dawson. For most of the fight, Dawson, age 27 and undefeated, floated around Johnson, who will turn 41 in January. Johnson never made strong contact with Dawson and in the end looked worn down. Yesterday we put up a post wondering if this loss was going to be the last time we saw the "Road Warrior" in action.
Apparently Johnson was having similar thoughts. I spoke to him last night about the fight, his immediate thoughts after the loss (the 13th of his career), and his plans for the future.
His plan for the moment: "I'll be waiting," he said. "We're still in business, though. I'm not retiring."
After losing a judge's decision in his initial fight with Dawson a year and a half ago, Johnson told anyone who'd listen how badly he'd been ripped off by the political machine of boxing. In the ring immediately after that fight, he told the audience they should "protest what's going on in boxing." Johnson spent the next 18 months training hard and soundly beating the next two guys he fought. He knew that without beating Dawson, he'd never be considered the best fighter in the light heavyweight division.
This weekend, he got another shot at Dawson. A chance at redemption. It didn't go so well. That happens.
Immediately after the fight, his first thoughts were about retirement. "My initial reaction was to walk away from the sport," Johnson said. The reason he reconsidered? His wife, a graduate business student, reassured him that his earning power as a pugilist was not done. She told him she doesn't think he's lost a step since the first time she saw him fight a few years ago. "She told me it would be stupid to walk away," he said.
How American is Glen Johnson's story? The blue-collar, unappreciated, underestimated, quiet immigrant boxer goes from swinging a hammer full-time to the top of the boxing ranks, then does it again five years later. Now, even when times are tough, he's sticking with a job that has taken a toll emotionally and physically -- a painful, dangerous occupation, but the one he's chosen.
He knows he's fought just about every light heavyweight of note, and the ones he hasn't aren't likely to book a fight with him now that he's lost to Dawson twice. Dawson is the new face of the division. So how, then, does Johnson plan to make a living as a boxer?
"I'm thinking about moving up to cruiserweight," he told me. Johnson weighed in at 175 pounds before the most recent fight, the most allowed for a light heavyweight fight. The cap in the cruiserweight division is 200 pounds, quite a leap.
"I believe it makes better sense," Johnson said. "Chad Dawson was able to run and stay away from me. I didn't have the speed to keep up with him and make him fight like I expected him to. With cruiserweights, we'll be dealing with bigger guys who can't get away. With the pressure that I bring, I may not be able to take someone out with the one big punch, but I stay busy and can get guys with continuous shots and work them down."
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He says he wasn't really a knockout puncher as a light heavyweight, so he wouldn't expect to be as a cruiser either. Aside from the age factor, the shift would fit Johnson's career. "I like to come into a division, find out who's best in the division, then beat him so I can be the guy. Since I could never get a rematch with Dawson, I could never be the guy there anymore."
He started as a middleweight and eventually took on Bernard Hopkins. Then he went to super middleweight. Then to light heavyweight, where he's beaten Roy Jones Jr. and Antonio Tarver.
"My history shows this is the natural step for me," he said.
As always, we'll be rooting for Johnson no matter what he does or doesn't do.