By Corey Erdman
Never hesitant to speak up, heavyweight contender Kevin “Kingpin” Johnson replied quickly to news that Michael Grant was interested in a bout with Chris Arreola.
"All of these heavyweights out there, ninety percent of them get on my damn nerves. Everyone's trying to get a quick steal, a quick shot,” said Johnson. “Fight somebody first, then you deserve a spot on HBO.”
Johnson's comments were in part directed at Grant, but also toward rising prospect Seth Mitchell, who is reportedly in line for his HBO debut later on this year.
After a wide unanimous decision loss to Vitali Klitschko in 2010, Johnson has been doing everything he can to get another crack at a heavyweight contender, going so far as to offer HBO an appearance fee of $1 for the chance to fight Mitchell on the network.
At 29 years of age, Mitchell is still considered by many to be quite raw, having made the transition from college football to boxing in 2008.
"It's like a baby being allowed to drive a car without a license. You can't allow that," said Johnson of Mitchell's spot on HBO, slated for August 27. "He possesses none of the boxing abilities or boxing skills that half of the good boxers in this division have, so I don't understand why weren't talking about title shots. He's a baby.”
Johnson's dismissal of Mitchell is part bitterness, however it is also part cautionary. Prior to his crack at the WBC heavyweight title, he was 23-0-1, and the most notable names on his resume were Devin Vargas and a severely faded Bruce Seldon.
"Even before the Klitschko fight, I didn't get a chance to fight the Top 10 opposition I wanted to fight. I didn't get a chance to fight the Michael Grants, the Chris Arreolas,” said Johnson. “And now it's back to the same drawing board.”
While he'd have every reason to believe he's “blacklisted” by HBO after the Klitschko fight, the Atlanta resident believes it boils down to fighters not wanting to face him.
"Try to go on the internet, or a radio show and find heavyweights talking crap about me. It ain't happening, and you know why? Because they know they can't whoop my ass. I would whoop their asses easily. The only ass-whooping I didn't deliver was against Klitschko, but I didn't take one either,” said Johnson.
In May, Johnson attempted to go the popular route for boxers looking to revive their careers and get fights quickly, entering the Prizefighter tournament in the United Kingdom. Legal issues forced him out of the bracket, eventually won by Cuban Mike Perez.
In the end, he might get a consolation prize out of it anyway.
"Prizefighter was supposed to be five bums, and me and Mike Perez,” boasted Johnson. “Me and Mike Perez can still fight. I know he wants the fight.”
Johnson is tentatively scheduled to return on September 3 in Asbury Park, NJ. against an opponent to be named later.
Corey Erdman is a member of the Yahoo boxing ratings committee, and a host at theScore on SIRIUS 158. Follow him on Twitter @corey_erdman