By Keith Idec
Tureano Johnson talks a great game, but the unbeaten Bahamian boxer’s unimpressive resume might make you think twice about whether he actually has any shot at upsetting Curtis Stevens on Friday night in Philadelphia.
That didn’t stop Johnson from insulting Stevens and promising to win with ease in by far the biggest fight of his four-year pro career.
“I am going to go in there and beat this guy up,” Johnson said during a press conference Wednesday. “He said I’m a slapper and a bit sloppy. Come Friday night, someone is going to get bitch-slapped. I am going to enjoy this, but I cannot say the same for him. Let’s pray I don’t put him in the hospital.”
Johnson (14-0, 10 KOs) defeated Detroit’s Willie Fortune (17-1, 8 KOs) in his last bout, but Fortune’s record before their February 2013 fight in Cabazon, Calif., also was built against pedestrian opposition. Even worse, Fortune was one of just three Johnson opponents that had winning records.
The 30-year-old Johnson clearly hasn’t fought an opponent as strong or as proven as Stevens (26-4, 19 KOs), yet he seems certain the hard-hitting Stevens can be out-boxed in their 10-round middleweight match.
“This is the most important fight of my life, but I don’t think it is the most difficult,” said Johnson, who hasn’t fought in 13 months. “I never fought anyone with Curtis Stevens’ power, but he is not going to catch me. That dude is not catching me. There is nothing he can show me.”
Stevens laughed off Johnson’s bravado. He has heard similar trash talk from opponents on Johnson’s level who failed to follow through on their promises.
“I will go in there and just take care of business,” Stevens said. “Yes, he’s undefeated, but he’s fought 14 softies. Come Friday, he is going to be in there with the real thing. I’m not going to tell him. I will have to show him.”
Brooklyn’s Stevens, 29, will fight for the second time since WBA middleweight champ Gennady Golovkin (29-0, 26 KOs) stopped him in the seventh round of their title fight Nov. 2 in The Theater at Madison Square Garden. In his first fight after losing to Kazakhstan’s Golovkin, Stevens scored three knockdowns and a first-round technical knockout against Atlantic City’s Patrick Majewski (21-3, 13 KOs) on Jan. 24 in Atlantic City.
The Stevens-Johnson fight will open an NBC Sports Network doubleheader at 10 p.m. ET from Temple University’s Liacouras Center. Philadelphia’s Steve Cunningham (26-6, 12 KOs) and Amir Mansour (20-0, 15 KOs), of Wilmington, Del., will square off in the main event, a 10-rounder for Mansour’s USBA heavyweight title.
Keith Idec covers boxing for The Record and Herald News, of Woodland Park, N.J., and BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.