Heavyweight veteran Kevin 'Kingpin' Johnson (36-21-2, 20 KOs), 43-years-old, announced in an overseas interview that he's now Russian - and also changed his name to Kevin Vladimirovich.

The name change, according to Johnson, was to honor Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"As a compliment to President Vladimir Putin, I decided to change my name. I will now be called Kevin Vladimirovich — in honor of Vladimir Putin. Now I am 100%, no joke, 100% Russian," Johnson said to Russian newspaper Izvestia.

Back in April, Johnson easily defeated mixed martial arts fighter Vyacheslav Datsik in crossover boxing match. Afterwards, Johnson made a plea for Russian citizenship and told local reporters that he wants to live in Russia.

Johnson is scheduled to face unbeaten Russian prospect Mark Petrovsky on August 18 in Moscow.

Since early 2022, Russia has been involved in a military conflict with neighboring country Ukraine. 

Coincidently, in 2009, Johnson lost a twelve round decision when he challenged Vitali Klitschko for the WBC heavyweight title. Klitschko is currently the mayor of Ukraine's capital, Kyiv.

During the course of his ongoing career, Johnson fought a who's who of top heavyweight names - including Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua, Daniel Dubois, Andy Ruiz, Derek Chisora, Filip Hrgovic, Kubrat Pulev, and many others.

Johnson is not the first American fighter to pursue Russian citizenship.

Back in 2015, former four division world champion Roy Jones Jr. became a Russian citizen.

At the time, Jones has cited the country’s large “community of boxers” and the fact that he is beloved there as reasons he chose to become an official citizen. In order to obtain citizenship, Jones met with Putin in the pro-Russian Ukrainian territory of Crimea, which was annexed by Russia in 2014.