Johnson aiming for titles and redemption

Shaun Brown
17/10/2015 11:08am

Tureano Johnson has many reasons to be positive.

The 31-year-old middleweight recently signed a promotional deal with Golden Boy Promotions, formed a new training team and tonight at Madison Square Garden fights in an IBF world title eliminator against Ireland’s Eamonn O’Kane.

A win against his O’Kane (14-1-1, 5 KOs) will push Johnson forward to a possible encounter against the winner of the night’s main event between Gennady Golovkin and David Lemieux.

However, mention the name Curtis Stevens, the man responsible for causing Johnson’s first and only professional loss, and you get the impression that he would give all that back if he was given an opportunity for redemption.

“It’s a necessary revenge that I need to take,” Johnson (18-1, 13 KOs) told Boxing Monthly. “That is something that is dormant in my soul, not just in my heart. I feel as though there is much to be clarified in that fight.”

The night of 4 April, 2014 still rankles Johnson, an eloquent and charismatic individual who hails from the Bahamas, to a point where you believe that he will wait forever to right a controversial wrong.

With just over a minute to go of what had been a physically draining 10-round contest, Stevens forced his man back to the ropes after landing a short left hook. Stevens poured the pressure on, throwing another energy sapping left hand which left Johnson looking like he had nowhere to go. In a matter of seconds, the fight was over when referee Gary Rosato halted the contest after Stevens had bombarded Johnson with a flurry of shots.

“I knew I was about to take a lot of punches, I knew he was putting it out there,” said Johnson recalling the moment that fight changing punch had detonated.

“He threw eight punches and caught me with two and missed all eight after that one punch and the ref stopped the fight. Stevens gave [me] hell of an action and a hell of a performance, no doubt. Many said I was out, many said I wasn’t. This is one that is deserving of a rematch and, hopefully in the near future, we can make that happen. Hopefully, he can get back up there we can make that happen.”

For now Stevens will have to wait. More pressing matters lie in the shape of O’Kane who has vowed to fight like a “true Irishman”.

“He’s one that I won’t take lightly,” Johnson said of his opponent tonight. “I’m not too deep in details about him, but I do know he is a strong opponent and he isn’t just coming to be an opponent, he is coming to win. So, indeed, Eamonn O’Kane will bring his ‘A game’ and when he brings his ‘A game’, and I do, you can expect it to be an exciting fight.

“I’m going to do what I do best and that’s beat up my opponent. All respect to Eamonn O’Kane, but right now this is about me providing for my family, making my country proud and doing what I was born to do and that is becoming a world champion.”

To do that, the 2008 Olympian will have to make a significant step up in performance should he face the winner of Golovkin and Lemieux. The two gunslingers are hours away from a match-up that has evoked memories of Hagler and Hearns, building anticipation to what fans feel will be an incredible climax.

“It would definitely be GGG. Hands down GGG,” he answered when BM asked for his prediction.

Johnson, fully willing to face the winner, is of the opinion that boxing politics may not allow him (immediately) to face off against Golovkin or Lemieux in what would be something of another gun fight. Should that be the case, Johnson already has one eye on a couple of American middleweights and a certain fighter from England.

“You have the likes of [Peter] Quillin, Danny Jacobs and Chris Eubank Jr. There are many middleweights out there. The middleweights have been catapulted into a division that is better than ever. Which means there are more opponents for me.”

The name of Eubank Jr caught Tureano’s attention thanks to Eubank Sr’s boasts that his son could dethrone Golovkin, now arguably the pound-for-pound king.

“That is preposterous,” said Johnson of a claim that is on repeat mode every time Eubank Jr is nearing a fight.

“Eubank has no chance with that calibre of fighter like GGG. He couldn’t handle a Billy Joe Saunders. If I do get the opportunity to fight the GGG-Lemieux winner, I would love the opportunity to step in the ring with Eubank. It would be a very good warm-up fight for me for whichever big fight is next.”