Post Fight Thoughts
December 22nd, 2008
By Jesse Kelley
Photos By Big Joe Miranda
Saint Paul's Antonio Johnson (7-0-1) fought to a draw
with Cleveland's Willie Nelson (10-0-1) on Saturday night in California.
Scores read 58-56 for Nelson, 59-55 for Johnson, and 57-57.
Both undefeated fighters were top rated in the nation as amateurs
and each put their unblemished records on the line in a rare bout
between up and coming pro prospects.
Johnson, 24, and now living and training out of Oakland, California
discussed his thoughts on the fight and also his future plans with
MinnesotaBoxing.com following the bout...
Talk about the fight with Willie Nelson. Do you
agree with the judges and the scores they came up with?
55-59 for me was accurate. The other two scores were totally off.
I definitely felt we won. The whole deal just felt weird to me.
It was a very small kind of promotion. His guys were the people
putting the show on.These guys were all his backers and his people
were actually sitting behind our corner screaming and yelling the
whole fight! The people involved were yelling like fans. I don't
want to take anything away from Nelson though. He came out blazing.
He was throwing bombs. There were a lot of people telling this kid
before the fight that I was soft so he came at me with everything
he had. He thought he was going to break my will but I was making
him miss with everything he was throwing. I won the first two rounds
I believe but I was just warming up. He was missing with everything,
but was pressing early. I was making him miss with my defense and
landing the cleaner, accurate, bigger punches. I feel like all the
meaningful punches were landed by me. By the third round I could
tell he was getting frustrated. He thought I was going to fold because
of what people told him before hand but then he started to understand
what kind of fighter I was. He began to try to box by the third
round because nothing was working for him.
I was hitting his body very well also. He was so tall that his body
was open. By the fourth and fifth rounds he was reduced to shoe
shinning and and just throwing the type of volume punches you see
in the amateurs. He had no power behind his shots either. Maybe
he looked busy to the judges at times but everytime he would pitter
pat with shots I would come back with big, hard shots.
By the fifth and sixth I had totally taken over. I was just landing
the kind of huge shots that had the crowd screaming. The last two
rounds were just so one sided in my favor I thought. I landed at
least a dozen big unanswered shots. I would give him the fourth
round and that is it. He wasn't really hitting me but he was a little
more active in that round. But overall he was a beaten fighter.
His demeanor and body language said it all to me.
There was just a weird feeling in the air all night. You always
hear about situations where a fighter goes to another guys house
but you never think it will happen to you. His score was read first
and I knew something fishy was happening. Then they read my score
and I thought for sure I had won. 59-55. Then the last score was
a draw and I just said "WHAT!".
I am guessing you would like a rematch. Do you
think he would fight you again?
No, they just looked like they knew what had happened. He looked
like a beaten fighter and his team didn't look too happy either.
He came up to me afterwards and said good fight and that the only
time we will ever meet again is if it is for a title.
I am sure you were disappointed in the draw but
what did you take away from this fight? How do you rate your performance?
With all of that said, I am pleased with my performance. I came
off the shelf and had a good fight, with a good fighter. There is
no doubt in my mind that I would stop him if we fought again. The
thing I take away from this fight is that I proved to myself that
I can perform in a big fight. This guy was a good fighter. You don't
see undefeated fighters like us fighting each other like this too
often. He was confident he was going to beat me and I was confident
I would beat him. It was a big fight in that respect and I just
felt so peaceful and calm in there for the whole fight. The pressure
is what breaks a lot of fighters when they step up like that. So
for me to take the pressure and fight the way I did, I know I passed
You have been out of the ring for more then a year
and a half. Was there ring rust? How was your conditioning?
Like I said, I wish it was eight rounds because I believe I
would have taken him out. I was ready to go longer. I wouldn't say
I had ring rust though. It just took me a round or two to get into
that zone. To have everything flowing perfectly. I will admit he
was a better fighter then I gave credit going into the fight. He
never quit. I knew going in that the negative parts of his game
would come out once he realized he wasn't going to get to me. He
was a decent fighter in the beginning when he thought he was going
to break me but he fell apart after he saw that he couldn't. I thought
I was going to be able to stop him once that happened but he proved
he was tough and determined not to quit. I outclassed him but he
surprised me with his will to finish the fight.
How soon do you plan on returning?
We are hoping to have a fight here in January. There is also
a possibility in February. I am ready to get back in there with
another prospect though. I want to keep going. My team was very
happy to hear the news of the outcome. They understood the situation
I was in by fighting this guy. Like I said, I was happy with the
outcome. The official result doesn't matter. How I performed is
what matters. I felt strong and I want to keep getting stronger.
I have been doing a lot of strength training and I want to continue
that. I also want to keep up my conditioning. I want to keep polishing
every aspect of my game and continue to improve.