By Keith Idec
Callum Johnson just isn’t sure.
That was the British light heavyweight’s honest answer when asked why didn’t try harder to finish off Artur Beterbiev once he floored the Russian knockout artist five months ago.
Johnson had every reason to be mindful of Beterbiev’s power once he landed a flush left hook that dropped the IBF champion at 1:24 of the second round. A stunned Beterbiev got up and fended off Johnson for the remainder of the second round.
Beterbiev recovered and dropped Johnson for the second time in the fight when he drilled the English challenger with a right hand to the side of his head in the fourth round. A dazed Johnson got up, but he couldn’t continue in the fourth round October 6 at Wintrust Arena in Chicago.
In hindsight, Johnson knows he squandered an opportunity to pull off what would’ve been one of boxing’s biggest upsets of 2018. As he prepares to return to the ring Saturday night, Johnson figures the first-round knockdown he suffered versus Beterbiev gave him pause when he should’ve attacked a stunned opponent in the second round.
“I learned a lot of lessons from that because I feel as though, when I had him hurt, I didn’t take the opportunity and jump on it,” Johnson told BoxingScene.com. “I learned a lot from that. I’ll never do that again if I’m in that position. It was a bit hard to swallow the first couple weeks, months or whatever. But it’s something you have to learn from. Good fighters always come back from their knockbacks and their losses, and that’s what I intend to do on Saturday night.”
Johnson (17-1, 12 KOs) is scheduled to box Long Island’s Sean Monaghan in a 10-round fight DAZN will stream live Saturday night from Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York. Monaghan (29-2, 17 KOs) lost a unanimous decision in his last fight – a 10-rounder against Cuba’s Sullivan Barrera (22-2, 14 KOs) on November 3 in Brooklyn.
The 33-year-old Johnson hopes he can secure a rematch with Beterbiev (13-0, 13 KOs). That could be difficult because Beterbiev has signed a co-promotional deal with Bob Arum’s Top Rank Inc., whereas Johnson works with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing and DAZN.
Still, Johnson said, “I’d love the opportunity to do it again because I really do feel that on my day, I can eat that guy. I feel that I can beat anybody, but yeah, I would love the opportunity again to see if I could do it. Or, if it went the same way again, I’d have to l hold me hands up and say, ‘You know what? He’s got my number?’ But I’d love the opportunity to do it again.”
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.