Lion Garton ready to roar

John Evans
10/02/2016 11:05am

There is something distinctly old fashioned about Johnny Garton. The South Londoner is following a well-trodden title route through one of boxing’s traditional weight classes. A raucous group of fans follow him across the Thames from Peckham to his adopted home at London’s home of boxing - the York Hall in Bethnal Green - and he is willing to risk defeat in order to get where he wants.

Garton (16-1-1, 5 KOs) has defended the Southern Area welterweight belt twice and gets the opportunity to add the English title to his collection when he faces the returning Tyler Goodjohn on 12 March. The fight will be 28-year-old Garton’s ninth consecutive appearance at the York Hall and it seems certain that he and Goodjohn will create the type of fight that, if they were competing in the 1950s, would see them double their purses by collecting nobbins after the final bell. 

“A few people have said that to me,” Garton said to BM when told the fight sounds like a fight of the year candidate. “We know Tyler is gonna come to fight and he’s as tough as they come. He just won’t stop coming all night but, if you ask anybody who knows me, I always make sure I’m in the best condition I can be. I’ll be the first to admit I might not be the most talented boxer so I make absolutely sure I’m as fit as I can be.

“I have tried to box a bit more in my recent fights but that’s all well and good. When I get hit, I might well end up going back to what I know best!

“I’ll be honest with you, I never even thought I’d win a Southern Area title, let alone an English title. I’m on the very verge of winning the English title now though so why not carry on dreaming? The more you get, the more you want and you do start thinking bout the British belt.”

Most fans only exposure to Garton will have come from an all too brief appearance in that most modern of boxing creations; Prizefighter. Once his motor is revving, Garton steadily gathers momentum and becomes harder and harder to deal with as the rounds pass by so the crash, bang wallop sprint of the three-round format was never going to suit him. Drawn against Sam Eggington in a 2014 edition of the tournament, Garton was simply unable to find his rhythm. 

“The way I fight, I get stronger and stronger as the rounds go on so I knew that Prizefighter wouldn’t really suit me. My problem was that I wasn’t getting good fights so I jumped at the chance when it was offered. I got caught in the first round and started to worry that I was falling behind so came out and tried to get to him and just ended up making mistakes. The ten-round distance suits me far more and I definitely warm up as the fight goes on.

“Don’t get me wrong, I love Prizefighter and I’d do it again tomorrow and I actually had a great time on the night. I’m with Steve Goodwin now and, since that night, he’s got me into position to fight for the Southern Area title and now the English title so it’s all worked out well.” 

Garton is a staunch Millwall fan and, just two days before he spoke to BM, his beloved Lions missed a late penalty and dropped two crucial points to lowly Crewe Alexandra. The miss also cost a certain boxing writer the princely sum of £675.23. That’s by the by, though. Garton laughed and pointed out the similarity between football teams and boxers performing to the level of their opposition.

“We always seem to play good against the big teams and let ourselves down against the smaller teams. I guess boxing can be a lot like that at times, too,” said Garton. “There are time when you’re sparring where you think you should be okay against somebody and they give you the runaround or it goes the total opposite way and you end up doing really well against somebody good.”