Tuesday, December 11, 2012
The 'Road Warrior' rides again
By Dan Rafael
Returning from a recent retirement at age 43, Glen Johnson heads to England to face George Groves.
Former light heavyweight champion Glen Johnson, who ended a brief retirement to accept a fight with England's George Groves on Saturday in London, is talking like a guy not quite ready to hang up the gloves -- even though he turns 44 on Jan. 2 and has lost five of his last seven fights (including three straight and four of his last five).
"From what I've seen of Groves, he's a good, strong kid with lots of talent and he's coming up in the sport and I know he'll be looking to do a number on me," said Johnson, who lives in Miami and is a native of Jamaica, so he's challenging Groves for his Commonwealth super middleweight title. "I've faced the best in the business over the years against the like of [Roy] Jones, [Antonio] Tarver, [Bernard] Hopkins and I believe that I'm a better all-around fighter.
"Groves will not show me anything that I haven't seen before. He's got the youth, but I've got the experience and that will count for plenty. He's only had 15 fights. It shows he's got plenty of ambition and hunger to want to face me and that's admirable for a young fighter, but he'll see that he's bitten off more than he can chew."
For Johnson (51-17-2, 35 KOs), going overseas to face the 24-year-old Groves (15-0, 12 KOs) is nothing unusual.
Johnson is known as the "Road Warrior" because he has fought many times in his opponents' hometowns and home countries. This will be his fifth fight in England, including all three of his fights with Clinton Woods, against whom he went 1-1-1, with the win giving him his first world title in 2004.
"I love coming to England and I'm looking forward to returning to London where I beat Toks Owoh back in 2000," Johnson said. "I've boxed all over the world and the fans in England are something special. They love their boxing and really get behind their man and I know that they will be chanting Groves' name going in, but they'll be chanting me on the way out. I know what I've got to do and I'm coming to England to kick Groves' butt."
Groves said he is not expecting an easy fight despite Johnson's recent slide.
"He's not easy to work out," Groves said. "Even at  he still has a decent work rate and forces opponents to work very hard because of the way he constantly presses his attacks. He's a momentum fighter with an unpredictable rhythm. He's also got fast hands, long arms and obviously [takes] a good shot. I need to get in my comfort zone.
"[Johnson] knows how to survive, even if he doesn't come to survive. Stopping him would make a huge statement. I do expect to stop him but don't expect him to just fall over."