By Frank Walsh, @boxingroundup
Reggie Johnson boxed 374 rounds as a professional, amounting to a record of 52 fights (44-7-1) 25KO. Facing many of his era's best fighters, Johnson won the WBA Middleweight and IBF Light Heavyweight titles.
Reggie we appreciate taking the time out to speak with us.
BR : Firstly at 47, why the return to the ring now?
RJ : Well I must admit, I feel that there is unfinished business in the ring, that I must address career wise,business wise, and legacy wise. First let me thank you Frank, for this interview and platform to be heard. My return to the ring is in progress and before 2013 ends, I will announce when, where, and who I will be fighting in early 2014.
BR : Do you plan to return to the 160lb or 175lb division?
RJ : I will return to the weight class I last fought. I beat the late Julio Gonzalez, in 2008 for the IBA 175lb World Title
BR : Do you feel you can still compete at a level that won't take away from the legacy you have built?
RJ : Frank, experience and gained wisdom has thought me that the ring, is not the roped canvas that I stepped in to face an opponent, but the mental state of mind that I encamp myself in. To be greater than my gloves. The true nature of boxing, the ring, is more about business, marketing and humanitarian programmes. As opposed to just slugging it out. I took of my gloves for a while to try on a suit. In my time away from the ring, i've endured ups and downs, joys and sorrows just as many other men, but i've matured as a business individual and a community activist. I may have been off the canvas but I never left the ring. I know I can still compete on the highest level and add additional credibility to my ongoing lecacy. But most of all, I can use boxing as a platform to address worthy causes and make the world a better place.
BR : You shared the ring with the greats of your era, including Roy Jones, James Toney and Antonio Tarver. Who was the most talented fighter you shared the ring with?
RJ : All these guys were great champions, and their resumes shoe them in the International Boxing Hall Of Fame. But I will say Jones was the most gifted.
BR : One fight in particular I want to discuss, is James Toney. The judges handed in a scorecard of 112-115, 113-114, 114-113. You knocked down Toney in the second round, and many felt you won the fight. Do you still feel you won that fight?
RJ : Of course I still feel I won that fight. Boxing fans all over the world are still weighing in on that fight, twenty plus years on, in agreement that i was robbed in my first World Title shot. I try to explain to most of them how the Toney fight in 1991 made me a better fighter, and also how that fight adds credibility to my legacy today. I tell them that James Toney himself moved on to become one of the greatest fighters of our era, and that within itself adds credibility to my resume as well. We live, learn, and move on in life.
BR : You reported seeing Bob Arum speak with a judge he was sitting behind before the scorecards were handed in. Did you ever approach the IBF about this issue?
RJ : Yes after the fight I watched the tape of the entire fight and this act carried out by Bob Arum, James Toney's promoter, caught leaning over talking to the judge Patricia Jerman who had me 4 points behind going into the last round. I brought this to the attention of my brain trust, but it was not addressed for whatever reason. I will elaborate more about this and the Toney fight experience in my upcoming book "On The Inside Looking Out From A Fighters Perspective" The Reggie Johnson Biography.
BR : Was a rematch with James Toney something you looked for?
RJ : Yes this was a fight I wanted, and I felt the fans deserved to see again, but this was a fight that was ignored and took off the market.
BR : Across the pond so to speak, the Middleweight division was thriving in the UK. You had won the WBA Middleweight title against Steve Collins. Were Chris Eubank, Nigel Benn or Michael Watson ever on your radar as a possible opponent?
RJ : Every middleweight was on my radar in the early 90's. I was told we were at the business table in hopes of fighting Eubanks and Benn. During that time, Don King flew all the middleweights and super middleweights to New York for a box off and I had the pleasure of meeting Eubanks, Benn and all the other Middleweights and Super Middleweights Champions and noted contenders. This tournament boxoff never happen.
BR : How do you think you matched up with Eubank, Benn or Watson?
RJ : All 3 of these fights would of been competitive fights. But I would of out smarted Eubanks,Benn, and Watson.
BR : What victory do you consider as the high point of your career?
RJ : The Steve Collins fight is special. It was my first world title i officially won. After the Toney experience it was extra relief, because fighters never want history to dictate them getting to the title Shot, but never being able to deliver and winning on the big stage.
BR : In 2010, you were charged with fraud, after $120,000 was raised and produced to yourself, for a series of boxing camps in Houston, failed to take place. Could you tell us a bit about the events that led to these charges?
RJ : I'm not at liberty to go in deep details about my legal mishap, but I will say this, I did three years six months, and three days as a innocent man. I have hard evidence in hand that was not presented during my kangaroo trial. I have a piece I wrote during my incarceration that will soon be released to the public. If I would have done what 7 out 10 people do who are really innocent, and that is sign guilty papers knowing that they are innocent, i would have been out sooner. Due to corrupted lawyers,D.A.'s and our corrupted system, they sign these papers to go home. I would have been home within a year. But I stood and refused to sell myself out to a modern day slave camp. "The Ultimate Stand For Justice" will soon be released.
BR : You were released from prison on December 6th, 2011. How did you prove your innocence to be granted this release?
RJ : My case is on appeal. I stood through the storm that is our criminal justice system. A system that had me imprisoned for three years, six months, and three days. This is the route you take when you challenge the system by not signing guilty papers. I stood on the TRUTH, knowing that it will one day prevail and clear my name. But most of all to expose the system that was originally design to protect the people. In the 21st century, that same system is now enslaving the people due to politics and greed.
BR : You achieved many things in your career. One thing not on that list, is a place in the International boxing Hall Of Fame. Do you feel an induction is overdue?
RJ : After visiting the IBHOF in year 2005, 2006, 2012, and 2013 I would love to have my name added to that elite list, but time will tell. I will say this if Sly (Rocky) Stallone has been granted in the International Hall Of Fame for six great movies he produced, then Jesse Reid Sr should be have been granted a place for the 25 plus World Champions he trained. LETS VOTE JESSE REID SR INTO THE IBHOF!!!!!!!
BR : What should solidify a fighter's place in the Hall Of Fame?
RJ : World Titles and the opposition he fought.
BR : How does Reggie Johnson want to be remembered?
RJ : I would like to be remembered as a human being who knew where my gifts came from (God). Who loved people across the board and a champion who had the best interest of other fighters, the fans, and the best sport in the world at heart. Boxing is high on my list of things to make better in this World.
BR : We thank you for taking the time to talk with boxingroundup.
RJ : Thank you for giving me a platform to be heard, and to share my love and concern for the ultimate sport, boxing, and the ultimate fans the world over. Fans who drive the sport beyond all other sports. I cherish the fans.....once again, thank you Frank.