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‘Sweet’ Reggie Johnson Interview Part III
By Boxing Reporter and Writer Chris Cercola
In part three and the final segment in this amazing interview with “Sweet” Reggie Johnson, Reggie talks about the late Julio Gonzalez, George Foreman writing him a very inspirational letter, and the great trainer Jesse Reid.
There’s some history with Julio Gonzalez. When I was in the gym training, when I became light heavyweight champion beating Guthrie, Julio was in the gym in LA training so he’s a guy I did a lot of sparring with. I think he only had about ten fights back then, this was like 1998. I knew he had a lot of will power, he was a tall guy, he was a good fighter. He was a typical Spanish fighter, he didn’t really use his range, he wanted to fight. He got me ready man, me and him had some good sparring matches man, then he grew up, got some experience, then he the one that went over there and beat Dariusz Michalczewski in Germany. In our fight, In the first round I tore my left rotator cuff in three places, so I had surgery right after that fight. Julio being a slugger, he always coming. He had range but my experience, and me just being a smarter fighter is the thing that won that fight. Alot of people said it was controversial but I sat back, watched the fight and I was OK with the decision, I didn’t feel bad about it. I’m real emotional I get caught up like the fans, I’m not gonna tell you I won the fight knowing that I lost the fight. Of course Julio was the aggressor man, but that night the man couldn’t hit me with a hand full of rice. I mainly just out-finessed and ring generalship the guy and again, ya gotta keep in mind, I’m fighting the guy with one arm.
They got a saying, “Don`t mess with Texas”. I been away for three and a half years in this modern day slave camp, which is pretty much designed to tear you down and break you down mentally and physically. They have places in there where you work out and they have weights and all this stuff, but you know, I spent my time in there reading, writing, working on my appeal, going to church and other spiritual outings. A part of the deal for me to get out, ‘cause I’m a guy who never been down before, I had to take a six month drug program, never had a smoke or drink in my life man. The thing about my whole situation is, I could of come out two years ago if I’d of signed guilty papers and had a conviction. I`ve never been one to run away from a problem, I`m gonna go in there and fix the problem, and we got a problem with our criminal justice system.
I got out of prison December 6, 2011. I had nice holidays, it`s always nice when you free and you`re able to hug and kiss your kids and grand kids and your family, I got six kids, three boys and three girls, and I got two grand kids and one on the way. I got up to 227 pounds in there, I’m down to 195 already. In about two or three weeks I`m gonna go to the gym. I`m being smart, when you older, you gotta train smarter, you gotta do everything smarter. I learned a lot from George Foreman, he wrote me a very inspirational letter telling me I could do it, and he gave me some ideas I gotta put the work in, be disciplined, eat right, drink a lot of water, and get my training up, and I will make 175 again, I shouldn`t have no problem making 175.
They say that every great man has a cause behind him, so I want to get all that back, I’m gonna keep on working hard and that`ll give me a bigger platform to speak on our corrupt justice system and reach out to the kids and deal with the youth and they said I took money and they put the check in my hand, there was a contract and all this stuff was documented, hard evidence, and all this stuff, but when you dealing with evil forces, you know…I been fighting since I was twelve years old, so I always been able to just hit, but now, to have my hands tied behind my back and not be able to defend myself, They picked me to be the fall guy! Now they got me signing papers but no lie can live forever, and the truth will always prevail, the lie might prevail for a year, two years, ten years, or twenty years, but the truth is gonna stick his head out. Don`t get me wrong now, I ain’t no saint, one thing about Reggie Johnson, he ain`t never gonna do no drugs or hurt nobody, hurt no kids, or do anything, but instead of that drug class, they should have had a class about a man being a womanizer… That`s always been my drug of choice, but I know that I’m a better, smarter, wiser man came out of there, than the one that checked in.
I been to the hall of fame and once you go to that place man, it`s like, it kind of reminded me of when I met Muhammad Ali, my hero, my child-hood hero for the first time. It`s like that feeling you get, it`s like magic in there, and anybody who had a fight, and especially at the level that I fought at can go there and not feel something, there something wrong with them.
Think about it man, I won a world title three months before I got arrested against Julio Gonzalez, the IBA World Title. They took it and let Chad Dawson and Tarver fight for the belt, so I wanna get all that back. I didn`t fight in three years and 8 months and I fought a guy named Fred Moore. I think I have a reputation of getting out the ring and coming back and beating guys, ‘cause I know that all fights are won in the gym. I get world class sparring partners, guys that`s pushing me every day to the brink, and at this stage in my life, I`m not really interested in tune ups. I want to get to the world title as quick as possible and as fast as possible. I just told these people in the U.K. that even their guy Cleverly, I`ll fight him without a tune up. I talked directly to Frank Warren and I have a guy who`s acting as an agent who`s in contact with my attorney, and they tell me they thinking about it. I wrote on Cleverly`s Facebook, I said, “I`m pretty sure your family`s proud of you, you`re world champion, but until you fight a Reggie Johnson on your resume, the world boxing community is not gonna take you serious”.
I can`t tell what`s in a person’s mind, but I think they might look at it like, “Reggie been out the game for a long time and he`s just over”, but you know, people don`t know how Reggie live, people don`t know what Reggie put in his system. There`s not too many people who 45 years old and ain`t never had a beer and nothing foreign in they body, and there ain`t too many people that can say they been fighting since the age of 17, and they never been beat up and never been knocked out, not too many people can say that. A lot of these guys today are green, I would win a fight with Cloud. These guys didn`t fight nobody and don`t have no fight on they resumes that they can say, “I beat this guy, he was a former world champion”, or “He was a great fighter, this guy fought him, him, him, him in the gym”. C’mon man, I don`t know if it`s at an all-time low or what, maybe it’s just the business end of it, political maybe. I hate to use the term paper champion but they making paper champions! Think about it, I was looking at it today, the guy who the WBA Champion*, he had two guys on his resume, a guy who should be my little protégé, Montell Griffin, and he got William Joppy, guys way past they prime, and sometime they ain`t past they prime but some of them only taking fights for the money.
One thing about Jesse Reid is he been in around me since I turned pro and I’m unbeaten whenever Jesse Reid was in my corner I never lost a fight with that guy in my corner and I had already talked to Jesse Reid and me and him are getting back together for this get back I just saw the Tavoris Cloud fight*, a guy I was very highly interested in fighting, and they pretty much ripped the guy off. First of all, the fans have to be interested, it`s gotta be something that TV and the fans gotta want. I’m really only interested in guys that can get me the world title ‘cause I know if I get the world title, then that will make those fights a possibility. There`s really no need for me to fight Glen Johnson right now, we were gonna fight Glen back when he was the number one contender, so why would I fight Glen now, but I’d definately welcome Roy and Bernard. I haven’t been out of ring this long period of time so it makes sense to do, I guess you call it a tune up…I call a tune up,someone in the top 10 in the world.
I’m reading a book with motivational stuff in it, Quot
es… It got all the quotes, “The Achievers”….MLK, JFK, George Bush, the original Martin Luther.”No man can climb out beyond the limits of his own character.”…a friend gave me this book life quotes this book is worth 120 bucks and it’s got real gold in it…I do a lot of reading man…”There are two kinds of people, those who think they can, and those who think they can’t, and they are both right.”
*The WBA Light Heavyweight Champion that el Campillo. was referred to is Beibut Shumenov.
*The man who faced Tavoris Cloud that night that was mentioned was Gabriel Campillo
Real combat media and Chris Cercola would like to show gratitude and appreciation for Mr. Reggie Johnson for taking the time to give this enlightening interview. We wish Reggie the very best and success that life has to offer.
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