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 didn’t set pulses racing but that didn’t 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 I’m buzzing to be back. It’s nice to be given a fight so close to my last one and coming back to Glasgow, it’s a bit of a homecoming, it’s like my second home. Obviously I’ve 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, I’m looking forward to it. My heart lies with Scottish boxing. I boxed for Scotland in the amateurs, I’ve 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 wasn’t 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 wasn’t nerves. It was a weird, strange feeling because I hadn’t done it for so long. When I started walking to the ring that’s when it hit home. I thought: “Shit this is real it’s time to do the business again”. That’s when it got me.
BoxingScene: Having not fought in so long, which would’ve been a frustrating time, did you want to take those frustrations out on your opponent?
Johnson: Well, yeah, pretty much. I’m not one for hanging about anyway. I know it’s an old saying but you don’t get paid for overtime. At the end of the day we’re in there to do a job and to try and knock people out. A lot is made about getting rounds but I’m a big believer in that you do the rounds in the gym, that’s 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. It’s always not the case but that’s 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: It’s the first time I’ve 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 I’ve got a lot of support where I’m from even with the inactivity I’ve 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 I’d already gone off the boil, given up with the game and put my gloves away and was sort of in no man’s 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 didn’t know what I was going to do, if I was going to box again, didn’t know what I was going to do work-wise. I’d got to 27 and it’d 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 don’t give myself the best chance to have a go and achieve what I’m capable of achieving and what others think the harder I’d find it to live with myself getting older. Now I’ve 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 you’ve had?
Johnson: Most definitely. Joe [Gallagher] is obviously my coach and my manager so it’s all in his hands. I’ll fight whoever he tells me I’m fighting and who he thinks I’m ready to fight. And I’ll go on as he wants me to. I believe I can win good domestic level titles now. When the time’s right we’ll go, it’s 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 it’s a Sky Sports show put together by Matchroom who are probably the biggest promoters in Britain now. I’ll be trying to look to impress but I always look do that anyway regardless. As far as signing deals and that, Joe’s my manager so it’s in his hands. Obviously I’ve got my own opinions as well, we’ll speak and go from there. I’m not putting myself under too much pressure by doing this and that so I can sign with Matchroom. That’s not the case. At the end of the day if a good deal comes up and they wanted to sign me up then I’d be more than happy to but nothing like that has been spoken about.
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