Johnson savoring victory over Gonzalez

By Raj Sharma


Johnson savoring victory over Gonzalez

"I'll be the first one to tell you it was a close, hard-fought fight"

There's still some sugar left in "Sweet" Reggie Johnson. The former two-time world champion reestablished himself as a player in the light heavyweight division with a split-decision win over contender Julio Gonzalez last Saturday night in Lake Charles, Louisiana. "I think it was a good fight," Johnson said, speaking by phone of his split decision victory. "I think fans in Lake Charles really enjoyed it. He came to fight."

The two fighters were familiar with each other's style, having worked together during Johnson's reign as a light heavyweight champion. The lanky Gonzalez doesn't like to use his height and reach, preferring to pressure his opponents and wear them down. True to form, he pressed Johnson, allowing the crafty southpaw to utilize his boxing skills.

"He came right at me," he said. "The only thing that caught me by surprise, I threw my left shoulder out in the fifth round. With my experience, I was smart and cagey enough to overcome that handicap," he said. "Julio kept coming but I was smart enough to feint and offset him. I'll be the first one to tell you it was a close, hard-fought fight. He's a guy that fights with a lot of heart and passion. He gave me the opportunity, I would do the same. Julio Gonzalez is a great guy."

The fact that Johnson, 42, was even in the ring is a tribute to his
perseverance. The former middleweight and light heavyweight titlist has endured some trying times in recent years. A promotional dispute was instrumental in shelving the fighter for over 3 years before his win over Fred Moore in August 2005. More inactivity followed, as Johnson was unable to land a marquee bout. Then weeks before a scheduled fight with fellow former champion Glencoffe Johnson, a training injury forced Reggie to

"The thought never crossed my mind," he said, when asked if he'd contemplated retirement. "I realize who buttered my bread and that's God. Everything happens for a reason, and I realized that everything is done on God's speed."

"That's why when Glen fell out, another guy who had the win (over Glen Johnson) stepped in- I fought Julio Gonzalez. I just think all I have to do is stay aligned with my creator, and all the things I've set out to do will come to pass."

With Gonzalez ranked in the IBF's top 10 prior to the loss, Johnson should have secured himself a spot in that organization's rankings. He's more than willing to fight any of the champions however.

"Definitely willing," he said. "[WBA champion] Danny Green; [IBF] Clinton Woods. I'm willing to fight any of the world champions anywhere in the world."

Another world title could cement Johnson as one of the standouts of his era and help him realize his dream of being in the International Boxing Hall of Fame. Johnson fights not only for money but a place in history.

"I want a third world title," he said. "Money always plays a factor because money is security. I'm a father; I have a beautiful family. That is on the table."

"But I'm so caught up in my legacy. The biggest thing that happened to me was being invited to the Hall of Fame in 2005 and 2006. It took my mindset to a whole new level. To sit there and watch those guys get inducted, of course I want my name being mentioned under that breath."

Reggie would like to thank God, his family, Team Johnson, the city of Lake Charles, and the Lundy & Davis law firm.