The man who once put Roy Jones Jr. to sleep and earned a reputation as boxing’s toughest “Road Warrior” will test his luck in another city far from his home in Jamaica.
Glen Johnson will headline Classic Entertainment & Sports’ Feb. 21, 2014 card at Twin River Casino in Lincoln, R.I., when he faces Jaime Velazquez of Pawtucket, R.I., in the 8-round main event of “Home Sweet Home.”
Velazquez (11-5-2, 6 KOs), 42, a former New England contender in the mid- to late-1990s, will end a 15-year layoff in his return to the ring Feb. 21st, and he’ll do it against one of the most prolific light heavyweights of this generation.
Johnson (53-18-2, 36 KOs), 45, has been actively fighting for the past 25 years, a late-bloomer who didn’t turn pro until he was 20, but during that stretch he’s fought 11 world-title bouts and enjoyed an impressive run as the IBF and The Ring title-holder, which included his shocking knockout win over Roy Jones Jr. in 2004. Three months later, Johnson unified the light heavyweight title by beating Antonio Tarver and earned the Boxing Writer’s Association of America’s Fighter of the Year award.
Nicknamed “The Road Warrior” for frequently fighting — and winning — in his opponents’ hometowns, Johnson’s resume also includes a knockout win over the hard-hitting Yusaf Mack of Philadelphia and an inclusion in the Super Six World Boxing Classic in which he dropped to 168 pounds to replace an injured Mikkel Kessler and knocked out Allan Green before losing a close majority decision to World Boxing Council (WBC) champ Carl Froch in the semifinals.
Like the loss to Froch, many of Johnson’s setbacks have either been too close to call or have fallen under a cloud of controversy, including a disputed draw against Clinton Woods for the then-vacant IBF title in 2003 in Woods’ backyard in the United Kingdom, which Johnson avenged later that year by beating Woods unanimously for the belt. He faced Woods a third time in 2006 in the same country for the same belt and lost a close split decision in which one judge awarded the fight to Johnson by two points.
Following the trilogy with Woods, Johnson went on to beat former world champion Montell Griffin by 11th-round knockout and faced off twice against WBC title-holder Chad Dawson, losing both fights by narrow unanimous decisions. Johnson also challenged for the IBF title a third time against Tavoris Cloud and took a shot at the IBF super middleweight belt against Lucian Bute, going the distance against both fighters. Johnson pushed Cloud to the brink for 12 rounds and lost a unanimous decision despite landing more punches than Cloud, according to the CompuBox numbers.
Johnson has only been stopped once in 25 years, proving his chin is as solid as his fists. The lone stoppage occurred in 1997 in the first of his 11 world-title belts against then-IBF middleweight champ Bernard Hopkins, the ageless wonder who, at 49, now holds the same light heavyweight title Johnson defended twice during the peak of his dominance in 2004. Born in Jamaica, Johnson moved to southern Florida at the age of 15.