Published 12:00 am Friday, October 26, 2007
Younger A.J. Johnson joins the boxing ranks
By Myra Bean
Finding himself in trouble with the law one day woke A.J. Johnson up.
It was at this time the 20-year-old decided he needed to take charge of his life and make something of it.
He decided his dad’s old profession of boxing would work just as well for him.
Johnson, a 2005 North Panola graduate, has seen success as an amateur boxer with a 3-0 record. He has been boxing for about a year in Pearl and in Jackson, Tenn. Saturday, he will be looking to box in Hopskinsville, Ken., according to John Bryant, coordinator of Prize Fight Title Tournament Boxing.
A Prize Fight Title Tournament will be held November 1 through 3 at the Pipkin Building on the Mid South Fairgrounds in Memphis, behind the Liberty Bowl.
That is where Johnson will be boxing next week.
“We want the home crowd to come out and support him,” his father Michael Johnson Sr. said, who is also his trainer and coach.
According to Bryant, the matches will be computer generated from the entries so they do not know when Johnson will fight.
“You never know who might get a bye. He might not fight until Saturday or he may have to fight all three nights,” Bryant said.
Fighters will range from 8-years-old and up and hail from California, Maryland and even Washington, D.C., according to Bryant.
The fights begin at 7 p.m. each night. Admission is $10 Thursday and Friday night and $12 on Saturday, which is the championship night.
Amateurs fight in three 2-minute rounds. Johnson’s first two bouts went the distance, but he won them outright. In his last bout, his opponent refused to come back out in the second round giving him a TKO.
Johnson played on the North Panola Cougar team, but just recently saw himself as a boxer. He attended Northwest for two semesters, but when he decided to go back this fall it was too late to get his financial aid in order.
“I didn’t see myself boxing when I was younger,” he said. “That’s how life played out.”
Johnson admits his dad did have some influence on his decision to give boxing a try and he likes the decision he made and the sport.
“It fits all of my life aspirations, how I want to live,” he said. “I want to be my own boss, work when I want to, stuff like that. Since I am athletic and pretty good with my hands, I am trying to box.”
Johnson does most of his training at home in Como.
“When I use what I learn, is when I go to the gym, mostly,” he said. “My dad and I do some one on one and then we go to the gym and practice it, put it to work.”
Johnson boxes in the super middleweight category. He weighs 168 and stands 6’2”, but needs to get down to 160 pounds to compete in that category in the professional ranks. He and his dad hope this match in Memphis will be the stepping stone to the professional ranks.
The fight in Memphis is titled as the First Annual Title National Championship and is sanctioned by Southeastern USA Boxing.
Right now, Johnson’s training regimen is about two to three hours per day when he works his shift at McDonald’s. On his days off he trains a little longer.
“My arms take up most of that time,” he said. “Then after that I do a little focus work.”
Johnson said his height, building and structure give him his personal advantage over his opponents, along with his mental strength.
“Most athletic sports are mental if you want to keep going,” he said. “You have to make yourself keep going when you get tired. You have to tell yourself to keep going. I am quick and strong. I have the reach.”
How does he measure power?
“Power is how strong you are, how hard you can hit,” Johnson said. “And speed, how fast you move your arms. You can be strong and still not be quick. You can be quick and not strong.
“Speed and power, I have both of those and reach,” Johnson said.
He said he has a longer reach those most people because they are usually short and stocky.
“I got these little legs, too,” he said laughing. “Lots of people have big legs which contribute to their weight overall. Most of my weight comes from my upper body.”
With the holidays coming up, boxing usually slows down, according to Johnson. Therefore, he hopes to be fighting professionally no later than February 2008.
His mom, Odessa, is “cool” about his boxing.
“She mentioned at one of my fights she gets butterflies right up until I start fighting then she gets alright,” he said. “I am managing to stay out of trouble. This is my stay out of jail plan.”
Johnson has an older brother Christian, younger brother Michael and two sisters Victoria and Sarah.