Pride of Jamaica: Glen Johnson

Updated: Jul 10, 2020

Like Simon Brown, Glen Johnson was born in Clarendon, Jamaica. He came into the world on the 2nd of January 1969 as Glengoffe Donovan Johnson. Also, like Brown, he started his professional career in the United States, choosing Florida as his residence.

Johnson defeated Yurek Del Rio in the first round of a super-middleweight contest on 19th February 1993 to kickstart his time in the paid ranks. He amassed an unbeaten career of 32-0 (22 KO's) when he challenged Bernard Hopkins for the IBF middleweight title on 20th July 1997.

Hopkins was making the fifth defense of his title he won against Ecuadorian Segundo Mercado in April 1995. The two fought a draw for the vacant title in December 1994, with Hopkins clinching the crown with a seventh-round TKO to finally become world champion at the third time of asking. 

Against Johnson, it was a totally dominant display from the champion, who hurt the challenger in the second and fifth rounds. Johnson was getting outworked and the champion's accuracy caused Johnson's eyes to swell and his mouth to bleed. Hopkins finally stopped his man in the penultimate round with a crisp flurry of punches, bringing the intervention of referee Pat Russell.

Johnson's great start to his career looked to take a turn for the worse as he dropped a unanimous decision to Merqui Sosa in December '97 and a split decision to the Ugandan Joseph Kiwanuka in his sole outing of 1998, dropping to 32-3.

He got back to winning ways in February 1999 and outpointed Troy Wilson for the WBC Continental Americas super-middleweight title two months later. He continued his roll in July, knocking out Marcello Zimmerman in the first round in defence of his championship in October. The following month he travelled to Germany to face Sven Ottke for the IBF super-middleweight championship.

The defending champion had a great amateur pedigree, representing Germany at the 1988 and 1992 Olympics, reaching the quarterfinals and taking part in his final Games in Atlanta 1996. He amassed a career of 256 wins, 47 defeats and five draws in his unpaid career, winning multiple European and World middleweight championships, before turning pro in March 1997.

In his eighth fight, he lifted the German light-heavyweight title and by May 1998 he became the WBC International light-heavyweight champion. In October 1998, he went 13-0 by outscoring IBF super-middleweight champion Charles Brewer. 

Against Johnson he was making the fourth defence of his title and predictably, with only two stoppages on his 16-0 resume, Ottke retained his title by unanimous decision. The champion finished his career in March 2004 as undefeated IBF and WBA super-middleweight champion, making twenty-one defences, all in his native Germany.

Johnson lost his next three, all by decision against Syd Vanderpool, a vacant WBU super-middleweight contest to Silvio Branco in Italy and to Omar Sheika in June 2000. Three months later he was brought in to Britain to face Toks Owoh for the vacant IBF Inter-Continental super-middleweight title. The Jamaican lived up to his 'Road Warrior' ring name, stopping the Londoner in the sixth round. 

In July 2001 he was in Germany taking on the undefeated Thomas Ulrich, who was making the first defence of his WBO Inter-Continental light-heavyweight title. Johnson put the German down twice in the sixth, claiming the championship by knockout.

Johnson never defended his Inter-Continental titles and failed to capitalise on his momentum, dropping decisions to Derrick Harmon in April 2002 and Julio Cesar Gonzalez in January 2003. A draw in his next fight stopped the rot and in May 2003 he claimed the vacant USBA light-heavyweight title by outscoring Eric Harding.  

The win set up a contest with British light-heavyweight Clinton Woods for the vacant IBF title. The bout took place on 07th November 2003 at Sheffield's Hillsborough Leisure Centre. It was the third time Johnson had contested for a legitimate world title and Woods was looking to put the disappointment of losing to Roy Jones Jnr for the unified light-heavyweight titles, suffering a sixth-round stoppage defeat in September 2002, behind him.

After twelve rounds both men were left disappointed, with the match ending in a draw and the title still vacant. Johnson had to travel back to Sheffield in February 2004 for the rematch. This time the three judges found a winner and awarded the title to Johnson by scores of 116-112 and two cards of 115-113.

The new champion next defended his championship against Roy Jones Jnr on 25th September 2004 at the FedEx Forum in Memphis. Jones turned professional in May 1989 after getting robbed of the gold medal in the 1988 Olympic Games. He stopped his first seventeen opponents before being taken the distance by Jorge Castro in June 1992.

Within eleven months he went the distance for the second time, defeating Bernard Hopkins for the IBF middleweight title. The new champion then tested the super-middleweight waters in his next three contests, notably becoming the first man to stop Thulani 'Sugar Boy' Malinga.

Just over a year since defeating Hopkins, Jones defended his IBF championship for the first time, becoming the first (and only) man to stop Thomas Tate. In November 1994 Jones stepped up to super-middle to face ex IBF middleweight and reigning super-middleweight champion James Toney. The defending champion boasted a 44-0-2 (29 KO's) and was making the fourth defence of the IBF belt he soundly took off Iran Barkley in February 1993.