Glen Johnson scored an upset in the Super Six super middleweight boxing tournament simply by being part of it.
When plans for the tournament were announced in July 2009, Johnson hadn't fought at 168 pounds in nearly nine years and was an established light heavyweight.
But he agreed to participate in the event after a couple of the original fighters dropped out with injuries.
"When I got the phone call inviting me to participate, I got excited," Johnson said. "The only downfall was who I was fighting."
Johnson, 41, will fight good friend Allan Green on Saturday at the MGM Grand Garden. The winner will advance to the Super Six semifinals sometime in early 2011.
Andre Ward leads the tournament with a 3-0 record and six points, followed by Arthur Abraham (1-1, one knockout) and Carl Froch (1-1), who face each other Nov. 27 in Helsinki, Finland.
In the tourney's format, the winning fighter earns two points plus a bonus point for a knockout or technical knockout, while the loser receives no points. A draw is worth one point for both fighters.
Johnson is replacing Mikkel Kessler, who pulled out after injuring his left eye in August while preparing for a Sept. 25 fight against Green.
Johnson's last super middleweight fight was in September 2000, a sixth-round TKO win over Toks Owoh.
"I didn't leave the super middleweight division because I couldn't make weight. I left because I had better opportunities at light heavyweight," said Johnson (50-14-2, 34 knockouts).
Green, who replaced Jermain Taylor in the tournament earlier this year, is coming off a 12-round unanimous-decision loss to Ward on June 19.
"I don't think I need to redeem myself to me, but I need to redeem myself to my fans," Green said. "I know exactly what went wrong that night. But it was more about what went wrong leading up to that night -- I had to lose 28 pounds in three weeks, and when you do that you're not going to be 100 percent. It's as simple as that."
The 31-year-old Green (29-2, 20 knockouts) said he had been in the gym all along training for Kessler so he's in much better shape to face Johnson.
"I've done everything right this time," Green said. "I dropped my weight slowly. I've been eating right. I feel great. It's not even an issue."
Johnson said he briefly considered not taking the fight because of his friendship with Green. They have helped each other through the years, sparring and working out to prepare for big fights.
"I did have that feeling, but, at the end of the day, it's business," Johnson said. "When you sign up to be a boxer, a lot of times you compete against friends. It's some of the things you have to do."
Johnson said he doesn't need to feel animosity toward his opponent in order to try to beat him.
"I have no hate. I never have any hate for any opponent I face," he said. "For me, it's purely competition. But nobody pays to see Glen Johnson shadowbox, so I need to have someone to compete with."
Green has no problem being that someone.
"I knew Glen hadn't fought at this weight in a long time, and I wanted to make sure he wasn't flirting with disaster," he said. "Once I got past that, it was like any other fight.
"Glen is a friend of mine, a very close friend of mine. But it's like if you put a steak in front of two starving lions, they're going to fight over that steak. Even if the lions like each other."
Contact reporter Steve Carp at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-387-2913.