'You don’t get paid for overtime': Callum Johnson interview
Photos (top to bottom): Dan Mullan/Getty Images; Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images
Exciting light heavyweight contender Callum Johnson tells Shaun Brown he is looking for a knockout in his bout against Sean Monaghan in New York on Saturday night...
Callum Johnson has lived by a familiar phrase during his stop-start professional career, which began in 2010.
The (17-1, 12 KOs) light heavyweight contender has made sure 12 of his opponents haven’t heard the final bell because as he says, “You don’t get paid for overtime”.
“If I can get the job done quicker then so be it but you do have to be prepared to go the distance and I am. And if I have to, I will do. I will be looking for the knockout because why wouldn't you?” he told Boxing Monthly from America earlier this week.
The job in question for Johnson, five months after going toe-to-toe with IBF champion Artur Beterbiev, is to face New Yorker Sean Monaghan (29-2, 17 KOs) in a ten-round attraction at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, NY. A sign that, thanks to his memorable showing against Beterbiev, the 33-year-old Johnson is now a man in demand for match-ups at 175lbs.
It's all a far cry from the periods of inactivity and promotional issues that once blighted his career.
Joining Eddie Hearn’s ranks at Matchroom has taken the 2010 Commonwealth Games Gold Medallist, at 81kg, to new heights. Johnson’s career received a shot in the arm thanks to his one-round shootout victory against Frank Buglioni last year to give him the British title [which he has now vacated] alongside the Commonwealth strap which he earned with a harder fought win against Willbeforce Shihepo in 2016.
Beterbiev followed Buglioni, and now Monaghan follows those. A win on Saturday will not only solidify Johnson’s global top ten credentials at the weight class but will push him nearer to a second world title shot.
“It's mad really,” Johnson commented. “Just over a year ago I was laid in a hospital bed [due to serious chest pains] thinking my career is probably over and where's my life going. Not just my career, my life.
"Now I'm three fights in, I'm back in America and everything's going okay. I've got to concentrate on this fight and get the win. Things seem to be going great.
“To go from a fight against Beterbiev to another fight in America, a meaningful fight, I'm pleased it’s happening. I could have had a little six, eight rounder to get back in but what's the point? At the end of the day I've had them six and eight rounders every other day in the gym for the last five weeks against good opposition, sparring. The work gets done in the gym.
“The loss [to Beterbiev] hasn't taken any confidence away from me or anything like that. It's not like I need a confidence building fight. I'd have been happy to get back in there with Beterbiev for my next fight but obviously it doesn't work like that, we know that.
"I've got a tough task in front of me. I'm not taking this kid lightly and I know he's a tough, solid fighter, and I know I've got to be on my game and if I'm not on my game it could be a very hard night's work. I've put the training in, I've trained hard and I'm mentally switched on and ready.”
Switching off arguably cost Johnson the IBF world title when he fought Beterbiev in Chicago last October. The pair locked horns early doors, a dust-up ensued with each man throwing heavy hands to ensure that in now way was the fight going to last 12 rounds.
Down from a right hand in the first, Johnson, with ‘Dad’ written across his waistband in tribute to his father who passed away in 2016, gallantly rose to his feet to take the fight to Beterbiev.
Following a phone booth exchange, Johnson put the champion down with a short left in the second round. Unsteady, the fearsome Russian, got back on his feet.
However, Johnson failed to seize the day and let his opponent off the hook. By the fourth round the champion tunnelled a way through to make a successful first defence of his title, much to his relief.
“Same thing won't be happening again,” vowed Johnson who wants to be back out again in three months should all go well this weekend.
“If I find myself in that position Saturday night, I'll be going to finish the job. I've always been like that anyway. I've always been the kind of guy that looks for the knockout and it'll be no different on Saturday night.
"I'll be looking for the knockout. I believe it'll come. I'm going to look for it because that's what I'm there to do.”