End of the Line for a South Florida Boxing Legend?
Glen Johnson training after the first Dawson fight.
Boxing fans may have seen the last fight from a legendary South Florida pugilist this weekend. Glen "Road Warrior" Johnson, the light heavyweight who will turn 41 years old in January, finally got his rematch against undefeated 27-year-old phenom "Bad" Chad Dawson in Hartford, Connecticut, on Saturday.
Johnson looked good in the first few rounds, but by the fourth, he was all defense all the time -- a shift from the blue-collar boxer's usual approach, which often picks up intensity in the middle rounds.
Dawson manhandled Johnson, who wore long, bright yellow trunks for the fight. The judges were unanimous in their decision for Dawson, though two judges scored it a close fight. (The third judge and the audience seemed to think Dawson dominated.)
UPDATE: Glen Johnson says he is not retiring. Read about it here.
I wrote a cover story on Johnson after he lost a decision to Chad Dawson last year. In the ring directly after that first fight, he insisted America needed to protest the injustices in boxing. "I fought my heart out," Johnson, shaking with anger, told the crowd after the fight. "And they still ripped me off." Then he made a series of YouTube videos calling upon every big name in the sport to either fight him or boycott title fights until Johnson got a rematch.
Johnson, who knocked out Roy Jones Jr. and Antonio Tarver within months of each other five years ago, has spent the past year training and campaigning for either a title fight (which would force a big name to fight him) or a big-money fight with someone like Jones, Tarver, Calzaghe, or Dawson. Johnson's management wouldn't disclose specific numbers for this fight, but it was enough to get both fighters into the ring.
I called and texted Johnson after the fight but haven't heard back from him yet. He is one of the most likable boxers in the game, impossible not to root for. This was the 13th loss of Johnson's career, though (compared to 64 wins), and it's hard to imagine he'll have another shot at a big fight anytime soon. Any excuses Glen Johnson had to protest the politics of the sport are probably gone now, just like his box-office appeal in a title bout.
Perhaps he can take a break and in a year or two, he can come out of "retirement" to take on some young fighter in the division and restart his career yet again.
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