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‘Sweet’ Reggie Johnson Interview Part II
By Boxing Reporter and Writer Chris Cercola
Lamar Parks was in the same situation I was in when I fought James Toney. This was his first title shot, and I had just won it, so this was my first title defense. I think of Lamar Parks, and he had Madison Square Garden behind him, he had all these knocking people out. I went to New York ‘cause I knew he was my mandatory and I watched him fight, but I knew then, when I saw this guy fight, this guy’s deceitful ‘cause this guy could punch but he was also pretty fast, but once again the same principal applies, I don’t care how fast the guy is, if you’re getting all these victories as a puncher, he gotta set. He caught me with a couple of good shots, but I was never hurt in that fight.
When I say guys punch hard, there’s guys who can punch hard, like say Julian Jackson. I never fought him but that guy could punch, then there’s guys like Steve Collins, this guy, he’s so physically strong, but then he don’t got a crisp punch to knock you out, but he’s one of the strongest as far as physically. I watch his fight with Mike McCallum, and I just knew this guy had real power he’s a tough guy but I knew his skill level, and I had more skills than he did and I was a lot smarter than he did stylewise. I won W.B.A. championship, you get the feeling like I`ve arrived, mission accomplished and I was on top of the world man, and to top it off, my hero, Muhammad Ali was at ringside, so you know it was a great night for me. There were a lot of great fighters there.
I feel I won that fight with John David Jackson. Some fighters say, “OK, well, I won that fight”, and deep down inside, it could go either way, but you know, I`m pretty straight forward and honest with myself. Roy Jones beat me, Antonio Tarver outhustled me, and I lost to Adam Jones. Those are the only losses that should be on my record now, and I refer to those as political losses. John David told me that he had promised to fight Jorge Castro next if he wins that fight so that’s why they gave the decision to him. He told me that.
Jorge Castro, I fought in Argentina. I mean you go and fight a guy in his back yard two times, beat a man 8, 9, maybe 10 rounds out of 12 rounds, and they call a fight a split decision? I didn’t see him as a one punch knockout artist, it’s just something about him is strong. I mean you could pretty much add that up yourself man. Castro was a strong guy but I pretty much did to him what John David Jackson and boxers you saw did to him
I met this guy online, and he`s a boxing fan and he dabbled in boxing a little bit, and he`s over there in London, so I end up hiring this guy as my agent and he put together a deal, and I met him in Germany to see Dariusz Michalczewski fight the tall guy, what`s his name…Hall? The tall guy that Roy fought. His name is Hall, and he fought Dariusz Michalczewski over there in Germany, so I`m watching him beat the hell out of Michalczewski, and referee Rudy Battle stopped the fight, and Michalczewski, I think it was in the tenth round or something, but he got caught with a good shot and he wobbled a little bit but he stayed together, and he just jumped in and stopped the fight. But anyway, I went over there to fight Dariusz Michalczewski, and the agent, and he set all this stuff up, but anyway, them guys wouldn`t let him fight me, but then in the next fight he end up losing to Julio Gonzalez, the last guy I fought, and lost the title in Germany.
William Guthrie’s a big strong guy, he could punch and he was strong. I weighed in weighing 171, 172 and he was at 174 ½, 175. I was shorter and everyone was saying how William Guthrie looked bigger than me but I was going from 160 to 175, I had professional strength coaches and doctors to put the weight on and put it on right. I’m strong, and by the way, I was having a hard time making 160 pounds, and I just said I`ll move up to 175 when the opportunity came. I did everything I can do gym-wise and I was at my best and I felt a lot better, so I didn`t have to worry about killing myself making weight. Man, it was just a good night and we had a good game plan, my late chief trainer ‘Chapo’ Robles headed a great camp. We were working with weights, Jessie Reid was in my corner at the time, and I`m unbeaten whenever Jesse Reid was in my corner. Again, a puncher, smart man always win. And it was just one of those nights where, when a man has his mind made up, ya know, he has his mind made up.
Alot of people don`t know this but Lou Duva had alot of his fighters down here in Houston fighting, and William Guthrie, It`s strange how I had met William Guthrie, Duva had Egerton Marcus getting ready to go over to fight Maske in Germany for the light heavyweight title. Duva had William Guthrie there and I’m there, sparring with Egerton Marcus, so I welcomed William Guthrie to my city, I showed him around, ya know, took him to clubs, and hang outs, ‘cause we both were sparring with this guy, and I remember when they broke camp here, ‘cause Pernell Whitaker had a fight coming up so Lou Duva and Ronnie Shields had to move Egerton Marcus` camp to Virginia Beach. I didn’t go to finish Egerton Marcus off. Then I remember one day I was in the car, I get a call from Ronnie Shields, Ronnie say, “Reggie, I need ya to come here man, this William Guthrie has a problem with his nose and I need to finish this guy off”, so me and him end up negotiating, and I end up going and help finish the guy off. and years later we’d end up having to fight each other for a world title. So there`s a lot of history in that Guthrie fight between me and Guthrie, it’s kind of like having to fight one of your friends, ya know.
I fought Ole Klemetsin fought in Italy. Italy was great, the people were beautiful, I would love to go back.he was from Norway, he was European, so it was like we were right in his area of town. I think Collins had a lot of rough tactics, but this guy here was just straight out, head butts, he was just the dirtiest fighter that I ever fought and he was a huge guy. I don`t know how he ever made 175 pounds. I think we spent one day there and we left the next day, I would love to go back
And there’s an even bigger history behind me and Roy. I was with Murad Muhammad Promotions at the time, and he had set up a camp down there to promote a fight down there in Pensacola. The fight before I fought Steve Collins, I was the number one contender, and Roy’s supposed to fight on the card, and there was some tension between Roy and his dad, I mean, Roy was upset with his dad, he was upset that his dad had took a liking to me, because Roy was like a God in Pensacola and that’s where I sparred with him. I remember one day I threw a jab and I turned it into a hook and I hurt him pretty bad, I always knew that Roy couldn’t take a punch, his chin is suspect from that day. I also knew, man, he had phenomenal speed. I knew and I think Roy did too, he knew that I would be a force to be reckoned with down the line and I knew that he was gonna be a force to be reckoned with. Me and Roy were on such a different level skill wise and experience wise, I can’t even really compare then to when we sparred. I fought some tough fighters, but Roy’s one of the toughest, he’s definitely the most skilled, it’s a skill if you’re able to get out of the way and out speed a man.
I fought Will Tayor. I guy that fought twice, he just past away. I fought him right before the Roy Jones fight and the last fight I got cut right over my eye, it was the first round I think. I was on Facebook one day and I saw someone was talking about Will Taylor, so I made a quick comment, I said “Will Taylor, I fought him twice, was a game fighter”, and I turned the computer off, I was going somewhere. My cousin called me later on that evening and told me, “You heard about Will Taylor?”, I was like, “What, that’s why they were talking about Will Taylor!”. They said he had a stroke and he end up dying, he was only 46. We fought for my world title right before the Roy Jones fight, and then we fought later on for the USBA NABF title on ESPN. He was a hard dude, he was a good fighter. I think he just couldn’t take it to that next level, but he was a game fighter. He had Telesco beat. You gotta have a lot of respect for a guy who goes through boxing, and it change they lives. He found boxing in the penitentiary too. The guy did six years for armed robbery, found boxing and he just found his niche, and ended up becoming number one guy in the world, fighting for the Light Heavyweight Championship of the World… Ya gotta admire a guy like that.
I got my ear drum busted up in the third round of the Tarver fight. Howe hit me on the side of the head, ya know, he didn`t turn it over to put pressure, he kind of like slapped and busted my ear drum, I remember all I could hear was like a sort of like, a high pitched scream, and that was the first time I had experienced that. I never knew that your taste buds, and I never knew that all that stuff was tied into your equilibrium. Tarver never really had me hurt, I couldn`t fight him ‘cause my equilibrium. He fell for the bait and I caught him and dropped him, ya know, I had him down, but he got up. He should be thanking James ‘Buddy’ McGirt. After I dropped him, ‘Buddy’ McGirt said, “Didn`t I tell ya he was setting a trap, didn`t I tell ya what he was gonna do?”, and in between those rounds I looked at him, and Tarver head was down. I know Tarver, Tarver got quit in him, because I`ve seen him quit before against, the guy who broke his jaw, but he came back and beat the guy… Harding… But, ‘Buddy’ McGirt did a hell of a job in the corner talking the man back up ‘cause when I looked at him from the corner, I told you, the head was down, I looked at him in his eye, and he had that look… I’m not gonna be arguing, you know, he turned it back again and he did what he had to do.
Stay tuned for part three in this incredible interview with “Sweet” Reggie Johnson as he discusses the late Julio Gonzalez, George Foreman writing him an inspirational letter, and the great trainer Jesse Reid.
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