Nearly a decade since he last fought as a super middleweight, Glen Johnson is leaping at a chance to re-establish himself in the 168-pound division.
Johnson, 41, will fight Allan Green on Nov. 6 at the MGM Grand Garden on the undercard of the bout between featherweight champion Juan Manuel Lopez and Rafael Marquez.
The Johnson-Green fight is part of Showtime’s Super Six World Boxing Classic, and the 12-round bout is probably good enough to be a main event. A spot in the tournament semifinals is at stake, and Johnson (50-14-2, 34 knockouts) isn’t taking the chance lightly.
“My first reaction was, ‘Wow, what a great opportunity,’ ” said Johnson, who replaced the injured Mikkel Kessler in the tournament. “This is, I think, the best tournament in boxing. When the possibility to be a part of it came up … I immediately started doing what I need to do to get down to the weight. I haven’t done 168 pounds in like 10 years, so I just have to commit myself and go to work.”
Johnson, a Jamaican who lives in Miami, has fought at light heavyweight (175 pounds) since 2001 and won the IBF title from Clinton Woods in 2004. He successfully defended it later that year, knocking out Roy Jones Jr. in the ninth round. Johnson last fight at super middleweight in 2000, beating Toks Owoh on a sixth-round technical knockout.
Green (29-2, 20 KOs) also was a late addition to the tournament, replacing Jermain Taylor. Green was soundly beaten in 12 rounds by Andre Ward on June 19 in his most recent fight, and Green admits he has to prove he’s worthy of staying in the tournament.
“It was very disappointing,” he said. “I had to make a lot of changes, but going into the fight, I knew I was ill-prepared. I knew things weren’t going to be right. I’m just eager to get back in the ring.
“I had to go back to my roots and do everything right the way I used to. Now I feel great, and I’m looking forward to Nov. 6. I really don’t have to prove anything to myself. I just have to prove myself to the fans.”
Johnson said he expects to see a different fighter in Green than the one who lost to Ward.
“I’ve known him for a long time, and that was not the Allan Green I know,” Johnson said. “I’ve sparred with him many, many times. He’s helped me get ready for my fights, and I’ve helped him get ready for his fights.
“I didn’t take much away from (his loss to Ward). I thought maybe he had some problem or something. But I expect a very tough fight because I know what he’s capable of doing.”
■ NAMAAU WINS — Las Vegas cruiserweight Henry Namaau (8-3) survived a tough fight Friday at the Rio, winning an eight-round split decision over Jason Douglas.
Two judges favored Namaau (78-73, 77-73). The third had Douglas winning 76-75, even though Douglas was knocked down in the fourth round and had a point deducted in the third for constant illegal blows.
Namaau has won five straight and is expected to fight Dec. 3 at the Rio.
■ GOLDEN BOY SIGNS MOREL — Veteran Eric Morel has signed with Golden Boy Promotions, and the former world flyweight champion could debut for the company in Las Vegas in late November or early December.
Morel, 35, is the interim WBO bantamweight champion after winning a 12-round split decision over Gerry Penalosa on Feb. 13 at the Las Vegas Hilton.
“I feel better than ever, and I’m enjoying boxing more than ever before,” said Morel (42-2, 21 KOs). “I’ve got a lot to offer this sport, and I can’t wait to see where Golden Boy leads me in the coming years.”
Said Golden Boy president Oscar De La Hoya: “Boxing fans know how good Eric Morel is, and the amazing thing to me is that he’s been able to maintain that excellence for so many years. He was a terror at flyweight, and now he’s doing the same thing at 118 pounds. We’ve got some big plans for Eric.”
Contact reporter Steve Carp at email@example.com or 702-387-2913.