Saturday night's co-feature on Showtime is the first fight of the final round robin stage in the troubled Super Six World Boxing Classic. We've spent enough time admitting that the Super Six idea was a great and admirable one that simply hasn't worked out as we would have hoped, so let's ignore the tournament for now and just focus on the fight itself.
Super Middleweights - 12 Rounds
Glen Johnson v. Allan Green
Both replacement parts for the Super Six (well trying to ignore the tournament didn't even last as long as Randy Moss' return to the Vikings), both Johnson and Green are fighting to stay alive in the tournament and move on to the elimination rounds.
But beyond that, it's a must-win for both fighters even ignoring the tournament. Neither of them can afford to lose this fight. Johnson turns 42 in January and is taking a big risk by stepping down to a weight he hasn't fought at since September 23, 2000, or in other words, just over a decade.
The last time Glen Johnson fought as a super middleweight, the #1 single on Billboard's Hot 100 was "Music" by Madonna, and the #1 movie in the United States was Urban Legends: Final Cut. (Since that movie is not exactly a hallmark of time, I'll point out that Cameron Crowe's Almost Famous was No. 3 that weekend.)
The always-active "Road Warrior" has fought 21 times since he was last a super middleweight. He won Fighter of the Year for 2004, beating Clinton Woods, followed by a destructive win over Roy Jones Jr., and in December of that year upending Antonio Tarver for the legitimate light heavyweight championship.
So in other words, a long time. Now coming off of a spirited loss to Tavoris Cloud in August, Johnson shows yet again why he is universally respected, taking a fight on relatively short notice with Green, replacing the injured Mikkel Kessler. Johnson is getting old and his gas tank has been a minor issue in recent fights. He was dominated by an active Chad Dawson in November of last year, only to come back and knock out Yusaf Mack in February. He gave a good effort against Cloud in an action-packed, high-paced fight, too. But with his age and the relative lack of options to keep getting big fights, he simply can't lose this fight.
And then there's Allan Green. The Oklahoma native has made a career out of unrealized potential and strange stories. He's pulled out of fights with short (or no) notice, was essentially banned from fighting on ESPN2 for a little while, and has never quite gotten over the hump. He also was a YouTube sensation with his 18-second sparking of Jaidon Codrington, fought for a while dealing with an illness that eventually saw him lose a reported 85% of his colon, used to stare at his own feet a lot, and has seemed indifferent at times to his own career, and at other times, oddly delusional about his own value.
Green is 31 years old now. He's not a prospect anymore. He's a known commodity, and what we know isn't all that flattering, to be honest. He's a limited fighter who was demoralized by Andre Ward earlier this year, and unless you count the win over the middling Codrington, he still doesn't have a defining victory. Green has no appreciable fanbase, is only occasionally entertaining to watch, and may be running out of chances to make the name for himself that he obviously believes he's already earned.
Grading the Fighters
Johnson is being graded on what we last saw of him in recent fights with Cloud, Mack and Dawson. I honestly have no idea how drastically the weight drop will bother him, or if it will have no real effect on him at all. I think it would be unfair for me to try to speculate with any sort of definitive answer. Obviously the risk that Johnson is not himself at 168 is there, and we all know that.
The most interesting comparison, I think, is hand speed. Truth be told, Green might really be faster than Johnson, who is mediocre in this department. But the difference between them is Johnson has always used what he has very well. He lets his hands go constantly and has a motor that doesn't stop running. On the other hand, you have Green, who gives the impression of being lazy or unsure in the ring quite often, and does not let his hands work for him. It's always been one of the most puzzling things about watching Allan Green fight.
As for power, if either of them has one-punch ability, it's Green. But once again it comes down to their respective styles. Johnson has more cumulative power since he tends to throw a lot more. Both of them take a shot well. Johnson has an iron chin, having been stopped just once in his career, 13 years ago against Bernard Hopkins in the 11th round. Green has never been stopped, though he has been down. I might even be underrating Green a bit in this category, but he's faced so few top fighters that it's still a bit hard to tell.
Defensively, neither does anything special. Green often looks lost defensively, particularly if he's taking any kind of beating. Johnson's defense comes from his offense mostly, but I'd still say he's notably better there than Green. As for heart, I think what they've done in their careers speaks for itself. Green basically gave up on himself halfway into his miserable night against Ward, and Johnson never gives up, even when he's hopelessly behind and struggling to get anything going, as he was in the rematch against Chad Dawson.
It's a big fight for both of them, even if not a marquee major fight in any other sense. The tournament name being tacked on doesn't add much, to be honest, because the tournament itself has lost much of its zip, and we're talking about a pair of replacement fighters. The fight will have at least some bearing on what happens in the short term at 168 or 175, and the winner likely gets another major fight even if he doesn't move on in the tournament.
Good Fight Potential:
Glen Johnson is rarely in what you would call a bad fight. He comes forward, he comes to fight, and he'll take shots to dish out punishment. Green, on the other hand, is rarely in what you would truly call a good fight. His last two against Ward and Tarvis Simms have stunk. But there's stinker potential here on both sides. Unless Green is dragged into a brawl, the likelihood of him continuing to be Allan Green is obviously quite high. And Johnson just might not have much in the ring boiled down to 168, which could really hinder his usual style. On the plus side, the fact that both of them really should be looking for a knockout win could help.
Overall Pre-Fight Score:
It's an OK fight. There's not much more to it than that.
I feel like this fight is really unpredictable what with Johnson's age and the move down in weight. If Glen Johnson is the same as the Glen Johnson who fought Tavoris Cloud in August, I just think he's too good for Allan Green, and Green beating that version of Johnson would really surprise me, and would be by far the best W on his record. If Johnson struggles, I have no idea what will happen. Johnson could go down hard if Green is motivated and determined in that case. Or he might struggle to a decision win. It could wind up just being an ugly fight between a drained fortysomething and a guy whose history doesn't promise great effort or results. I'm going to guess that Johnson will have some stamina issues, but that he's going to start very fast and build up a lead on Green, who is easily discouraged. It could get dramatic down the stretch if that's what happens. Johnson UD-12