The Pugilist

Groves will be a mountain too high for Johnson

"I haven't took no punishment. There's nothing cool about taking punishment. There's nothing cool about getting hit in the head." - Floyd Mayweather Jr.

It was during the 20th century that the word 'cool' took on a new meaning. The scholars say this came about 1933, and this is Mayweather's meaning of cool: 'hip, stylish, fashionable.'

If Floyd Mayweather is right then there's nothing cool about Glen Johnson, a fighter who has never been hip, stylish or fashionable.

Johnson is a 43-year-old Jamaican, 44 next month, with 70 professional fights to his name. They tally 51 victories, 2 draws and 17 defeats, one of those defeats coming by TKO and none by KO.

Unlike Mayweather, Johnson wasn't born into boxing royalty. Unlike Mayweather, Johnson never got the chance to go to the Olympics. Unlike Mayweather, Johnson has never had a big promotional company or TV network investing in his career.

For 19 years as a professional Glen Johnson has kept taking punishment, kept getting hit in the head, and kept coming.

Johnson has never fought on home soil in Jamaica. Not once. They call him the Road Warrior and they're not wrong.

Johnson has fought Bernard Hopkins in America, Sven Ottke in Germany, Clinton Woods in England (three times), Roy Jones Jr. in America, Antonio Tarver in America (twice), Chad Dawson in America (twice) and Lucien Bute in Canada.

The Road Warrior has other nicknames. Call him 'Ol' Man River'. Call him 'The Old Man of the Mountain'. Call him 'The Marquess of Clarendon'.

Above all, call him 'Gentleman Glen' for his near-holy good grace in the face of true adversity and the home-town officiating and bogus scorecards which have dogged his career.

When all is said and done Johnson will go into the history books as a legitimate Light-Heavyweight World Champion, the 2004 Fighter of the Year, and Jamaica's greatest boxer of all time.

Tale of the Tape

Right now though, Johnson has problems. Big problems. On Saturday night he faces George Groves, the British and Commonwealth Super-Middleweight Champion. Groves is a Londoner so take one guess where this fight is.

Groves is 24, young and hungry, and he can punch. After getting the nod against James DeGale to win his titles Groves has won twice by stoppage, including a devastating second-round KO of Paul Smith.

Johnson has only ever been stopped once and that was when he fought Bernard Hopkins over 15 years ago. The youngish Johnson was vastly inexperienced at that time and simply unable to deal with 'The Executioner.'

Today Johnson has all the experience in the world but experience can only hold back the aging process for so long.

When he fought Carl Froch in June 2011 on neutral territory the Gentleman was still able to make it a close, competitive fight and he lost by majority decision after 12 hard rounds.

However in his last two fights the Jamaican has looked totally off the pace, losing by a big margin to Lucien Bute before dropping a decision to the little-known Andrzej Fonfara. He announced his retirement in July but has been tempted back by one more championship fight.

This fight could end in quick, brutal fashion for Johnson; Groves has the skills, he has the power, and he has the killer instinct. George Groves is so 2012 and Glen Johnson is so 1932.

All the same, go back to the 19th century and you'll find the word cool had a different meaning — 'calmly audacious.'

For Johnson to roll up in London to fight the home-town champion and to try to win the Commonwealth Super-Middleweight title aged 43 is as calmly audacious as it comes.

So maybe Floyd Mayweather is wrong about what it means to be cool. Maybe Glen Johnson is so uncool that he's the coolest of them all. Or maybe he's just an old man whose time has run out.

As ever in boxing, come fight night, the truth will out.

James Garner




Groves-Johnson headlines a card it was initially intended to support, with WBO lightweight champion Ricky Burns defending against Liam Walsh. Injury forced Walsh to withdraw, and this week late replacement Jose Ocampo pulled out, too, following the death of his trainer.

Tale of the Tape

The ExCeL card nonetheless has plenty of promise, with British prospects Billy Joe Saunders and Frank Buglioni among those in undercard action.

The big fight of the week is of course Amir Khan's attempt to halt a two-defeat slide as he battles the unbeaten Carlos Molina. As controversial as the Lamont Peterson loss was, the decisive knockout at the fists of Danny Garcia leaves the Bolton fighter in desperate need of a victory to salvage his credibility - and perhaps even his contract with Golden Boy.

The Pugilist will be holding a LIVE chat covering every round and every punch from 4am on Sunday morning on the Yahoo!-Eurosport website.

The big world title fight comes from Houston, Texas, as Nonito Donaire defends his WBO junior featherweight crown against Jorge Arce - though Guillermo Rigondeaux's defence of his WBA title defence against Poonsawat Kratingdaenggym is off, denting hopes of beginning a possible collision course between the two impressive title-holders for 2013.

Nonetheless, there is plenty more action to be found with gold at stake in Nuremberg, Germany (Arthur Abraham vs. Mehdi Bouadla for Abraham's WBO super middleweight title), San Miguel, Argentina (Omar Narvaez vs. David Quijano for Narvaez's WBO junior bantamweight title) and not too far from Khan-Molina elsewhere in Los Angeles (Leo Santa Cruz vs. Alberto Guevara for Santa Cruz's IBF bantamweight title).

As always, you can catch up with all the big fight results after the fact on Eurosport's boxing page.

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