Callum Johnson says he would be welcome a showdown with recently-crowned WBO Light Heavyweight champion Joe Smith Jr, before facing domestic rivals Lyndon Arthur and Anthony Yarde.
Former world title challenger, Johnson (18-1, 13 KOs) makes his long-awaited return when he faces veteran Croat, Emil Markic (32-2, 24 KOs) on the undercard of the British and Commonwealth Middleweight title clash between Denzel Bentley and Felix Cash at York Hall on Saturday, live on BT Sport.
The Boston man, who re-signed with Frank Warren’s Queensberry Promotions in February dropped now unified champion, Artur Beterbiev before being stopped in an unsuccessful bid to claim the IBF title in a four-round fire-fight in 2018.
The 35-year-old has ambitions of securing another world title opportunity, particularly against Smith Jr, who claimed the vacant belt with a majority decision win over Maxim Vlasov earlier this month and will then target Queensberry stablemates Arthur and Yarde, who are on course for a rematch later this year.
“I have seen loads of comments on social media saying, ‘Joe Smith v Callum Johnson, what a fight,’ and it is one that excites me,” Johnson said ahead of his fight with Markic.
“It’s an interesting division and there are a few of us who want to get that shot at Smith.
“If Bob Arum called Frank and offered me the fight — one million percent I would take it in a heartbeat.
“I wouldn’t need to think twice. That is where I want to go and I would jump straight in with Smith next if I could.
“If Frank wants to push me for WBO title I am all up for winning it against Smith and coming back to face Lyndon Arthur and Anthony Yarde.
“Stylistically, Joe and myself is a good fight. It has been talked about before, is easy to make and one that fans like.”
‘The One’ did not fight in 2020, with his last outing being a third round stoppage of Sean Monaghan in March 2019 and Saturday ends an over two-year absence.
Johnson, who is trained by Joe Gallagher says although he is targeting world level operators like Smith Jr, he insists there is no room to overlook the experienced 38-year-old.
“I do feel I would beat Joe and bring that title back, but I have to think about Markic,” Johnson added.
“I am expected to win and confident I will win, but Markic is no slouch. I can’t look past him. At the same time fighters do think what might come.
“Markic is a decent opponent after a long lay-off. He has a good record and can obviously punch a bit looking at his knockout ratio.
“He is an opponent that I am not looking past or taking lightly, that is for sure.
“When I re-signed with Frank I didn’t care who I fought. I just wanted to get out there.
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“I am as fresh as a daisy, but not a young lad. I don’t want to come back with six and eight rounders because I am past all that.
“There is no point and I haven’t got time.
“It is straight back in and getting back to where I want to be.”