A Star Boxing press release featuring unbeaten heavyweight contender Kevin Johnson paints the next challenger to Vitali Klitschko as a confident but respectful young fighter heading into his December 12 shot at glory.
"Since the Europeans took over the heavyweight division, boxing lost some of its appeal. The average American walking down the street couldn't tell you who the champ is. When I think of great fighters I think of Jack Johnson, Joe Louis, Muhammad Ali, Larry Holmes and Mike Tyson. When these guys were champs, they were icons in this great nation. The Klitschkos are a temporary mistake and I'm going to fix that mistake for good."
Despite that brash statement, he also considers Vitali the only true heavyweight "champion" out there, and points to his willingness to defend against young, undefeated fighters:
"I give Vitali a lot of respect for giving me this opportunity. He is a true champion that doesn't duck anybody. Of all the champions he is the only one who has stepped up and given us young guys, such as Chris Arreola and myself a chance to fight for his championship."
Johnson also says he won't fight the way the lumbering Samuel Peter or the overmatched Arreola did:
"If he wants to fight, I'll go toe-to-toe with him and use my speed to knock him out. I want to make things clear for everyone; I'm not Cristobal Arreola, or Sam Peter. If he stands in front of me with his hands down, I'll hit him ten times before he can land once. It's going to be a short night for him if he tries that amateur stuff with me."
Johnson is counting on his youth, speed and technique to make a difference, saying nobody besides Lennox Lewis has ever brought that sort of complete skillset against Vitali.
I'll say this. A year or two ago, I wasn't too high on "Kingpin," but the more I've watched him mature, the more I like him, and I think he has an actual shot at upsetting Vitali on December 12. I'm not picking him to win the fight, nor do I think it's anywhere near likely, but a Johnson decision win would not completely flatten me with shock or anything. And he's right: Vitali deserves some genuine respect for fighting guys like Arreola and Johnson instead of the Oleg Maskaevs of the world.
HBO will air Klitschko-Johnson on tape delay in the United States as part of a triple-header, paired with the Diaz-Malignaggi rematch and Victor Ortiz's return from Chicago.