By Shaun Brown
Callum Johnson 7-0 (4) is one of the forgotten men of British boxing after tortuous periods of inactivity that saw the Boston based Scot fight only once last year and five times beforehand since 2010. The light-heavyweight prospect, who was once promoted by Frank Warren, is now looking to make continuous statements of intent with as many fights as possible towards the end of 2014.
The 28-year-old returned last month with a TKO 2 victory over Egidijus Kakstys. A win over the Lithuanian didnít set pulses racing but that didnít matter, what did matter to Johnson was returning to a professional boxing ring. Five weeks on and he has another fight, this time against Nathan King 14-22 (1) tomorrow night over four-three minute rounds on the Ricky Burns-Dejan Zlaticanin undercard in Glasgow.
With his comeback now firmly underway, Boxing Scene caught up with the 2010 Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist to discuss his return as well as his time away from the sport.
BoxingScene: You must be happy to be back then?
Johnson: Yeah Iím buzzing to be back. Itís nice to be given a fight so close to my last one and coming back to Glasgow, itís a bit of a homecoming, itís like my second home. Obviously Iíve got a lot of love for Scottish boxing so to be back up there to be doing it in front of the Scottish fans is nice, Iím looking forward to it. My heart lies with Scottish boxing. I boxed for Scotland in the amateurs, Iíve got a lot of good friends and a lot of good memories up there.
BoxingScene: Last month you had your first fight in a year. How was the whole night for you? Was it easy to get back into the swing of things? Any nerves?
Johnson: You know what it was weird there wasnít many nerves at all. The venue was quite close to my home so I got to stay in my own bed the night before. I was around family and friends. There was no nerves travelling to the venue, I was with friends having a laugh and a bit of banter. Got to the venue, started getting ready and even then there wasnít nerves. It was a weird, strange feeling because I hadnít done it for so long. When I started walking to the ring thatís when it hit home. I thought: ďShit this is real itís time to do the business againĒ. Thatís when it got me.
BoxingScene: Having not fought in so long, which wouldíve been a frustrating time, did you want to take those frustrations out on your opponent?
Johnson: Well, yeah, pretty much. Iím not one for hanging about anyway. I know itís an old saying but you donít get paid for overtime. At the end of the day weíre in there to do a job and to try and knock people out. A lot is made about getting rounds but Iím a big believer in that you do the rounds in the gym, thatís where the practice and the timing and the improving and the fitness comes from. And on fight night if you can get your opponent out of there then get him out of there. Itís always not the case but thatís why you do the extra training in the gym so you can go and do the later rounds.
BoxingScene: What aspects of the win pleased you the most?
Johnson: Itís the first time Iíve boxed locally in a long, long time. I ended up doing nearly 190 tickets so boxing in front of that many personal people that I know was nice. It was nice to see Iíve got a lot of support where Iím from even with the inactivity Iíve had, they still come out and showed the support.
BoxingScene: So what have you been doing over the past year?
Johnson: Nothing really. I just sat on the sidelines. It was the previous two years that got me down and got me frustrated. I had two years of real bad inactivity and I was in the gym 24/7 and I was travelling up and down to Manchester from Boston which is nearly a 300 mile round trip and I was going up there and staying up there for three or four days and spending a lot of money and travelling and everything else. And for two years I stayed focused, I stayed positive and I was learning and I was thinking it will all come together but it never did. The last year maybe it might have come together but Iíd already gone off the boil, given up with the game and put my gloves away and was sort of in no manís land.
BoxingScene: So what was it that brought you back?
Johnson: Just the love of the sport really. I was missing it. I had seven months of not doing a thing. I was in a pretty bad place to be honest, mentally. I didnít know what I was going to do, if I was going to box again, didnít know what I was going to do work-wise. Iíd got to 27 and itíd all been for nothing. But I got my head together, started training again, getting myself fit and thinking I had to get myself back in the ring just for myself. If I donít give myself the best chance to have a go and achieve what Iím capable of achieving and what others think the harder Iíd find it to live with myself getting older. Now Iíve got one chance and I want to try and make something of it.
BoxingScene: Are you now looking to be fast tracked after the inactivity youíve had?
Johnson: Most definitely. Joe [Gallagher] is obviously my coach and my manager so itís all in his hands. Iíll fight whoever he tells me Iím fighting and who he thinks Iím ready to fight. And Iíll go on as he wants me to. I believe I can win good domestic level titles now. When the timeís right weíll go, itís all down to Joe at the end of the day because nobody knows more than your coach does.
BoxingScene: With your next fight on a Matchroom promoted show, are you looking to impress them?
Johnson: Yeah of course. At the end of the day itís a Sky Sports show put together by Matchroom who are probably the biggest promoters in Britain now. Iíll be trying to look to impress but I always look do that anyway regardless. As far as signing deals and that, Joeís my manager so itís in his hands. Obviously Iíve got my own opinions as well, weíll speak and go from there. Iím not putting myself under too much pressure by doing this and that so I can sign with Matchroom. Thatís not the case. At the end of the day if a good deal comes up and they wanted to sign me up then Iíd be more than happy to but nothing like that has been spoken about.
Please send news and views to email@example.com or @shaun_brown on Twitter.
Tags: Callum Johnson