TUREANO Johnson believes he’s destined to become one of the biggest names in world boxing and has challenged Eamonn O’Kane to produce his best ever performance in Saturday night’s IBF world title eliminator at Madison Square Garden.
The highly rated former Olympian (18-1-1), who was snapped up by Golden Boy Promotions last month, claims O’Kane hasn’t been fighting at the same level as him, but he’s hoping they can deliver an enthralling fight which will eclipse the main event - Gennady Golovkin’s mouthwatering world title unification battle with David Lemieux.
Johnson hails from the Bahamas and expects the Manhattan venue to be awash with ‘green and white’ on Saturday night in support of O’Kane’. However, he insists he won’t be fazed by the expected Irish invasion, claiming the army of ‘King Kane’ fans will just fuel his desire to get the job done!
“I’m expecting to be at my best against Eamonn O’Kane who I’m hoping will bring his best game so we can give the fans an exciting fight,” Johnson told the ‘Journal’. “He’s a very good fighter, a very strong fighter and I have the utmost respect for him. So the prospect of both of us colliding is one the fans will enjoy to see.
“If you want to watch a good fight, this is it! You’re not going to get that running around, ballerina stuff inside the ring. You’re going to get two strong sluggers going all out and giving the fans exactly what they want and that’s excitement.
“I’m from the Bahamas - a very small country just to the East of Cuba. There’s only 200,000 of a population so I’m never fighting in the Bahamas. I haven’t fought at home in quite a long time. I’ve fought in the United States for quite a while but I’m still a stranger to the Americans. And after hearing the history of the Irish here in New York, yes this is their hometown.
“That will make no difference to me. I came here to get a job done and that’s exactly what I’m going to do just as I have done in many of my fights. In Beijing (2008 Olympics) when I was up against a whole entourage of Chinese who were cheering against me it only fuelled me to do better.
“When I see all the green and white which I expect to see it will only give me more energy and I will realise this is not a joking business.”
Johnson claims to be on a mission to become the most exciting fighter on the planet and is currently ranked No. 2 by the WBC; No. 3 by WBA and behind O’Kane at No. 4 in the IBF ratings.
Both like to be the aggressor and are among the hardest hitting in the middleweight division so Johnson is hoping to deliver an all-action brawl for 12 fast and furious rounds to whet the appetite ahead of the main event.
Johnson isn’t one for studying his opponent ahead of fights - he prefers critiquing his own performance but he admits he’s had a sneak peak at some of O’Kane’s recent displays. So what was his verdict?
“I’ve taken a few looks at O’Kane but it’s rare that we do that,” he admitted. We didn’t go into great detail because our main objective is not to critique my opponent but to critique myself.
“We do a lot of studying of myself more-so than my opponent. O’Kane’s a good fighter but what I’ve realised is most of O’Kane’s fights have been in his hometown in Ireland. Because of that, the level of competition has not been one that has been impressive. Not to belittle him but his record is not one that is very decorated as far as opponents go.
“If he was at the level I’m at he would be expected to blow them out of the water without ever being fatigued or getting hurt but he has got hurt many times. So he hasn’t been up against the kind of opposition I’ve been up against.
I urge Eamonn to bring his very best game because this is going to be the biggest stage of his life and also mine.Tureano Johnson
“It gives me the edge in experience when we get down to risky times if I’m fatigued or hurt I’ll be able to figure out what needed to be done because of the level of competition I’ve been at.”
Step too Far?
Johnson has huge respect for O’Kane’s self-confidence and ‘fighting heart’ in accepting to take the fight but he insists it’s a step too far for the Co. Derry man.
“I believe his confidence is derived from his background,” added Johnson. “He is from Ireland after all - a country known for very good, tough fighters. So it’s in his blood and he’s a fighter at heart. I don’t believe he would turn down any fight even a hard-hitting Gennady Golovkin. I believe he would be one of the first fighters to jump up and raise their hand as say I will challenge Golovkin. He’s a fighter at heart so it doesn’t surprise me he’s confident.
“His accepting to take this fight doesn’t surprise me. I’m expecting a very good Eamonn O’Kane. In fact I’m expecting the best Eamonn O’Kane ever.
“I do respect him and I find him to be a nice gentleman. Although the result of this fight may not be in his favour but he can still follow the Irish tradition and it doesn’t have to end with me. I urge him to bring his very best game because this is going to be the biggest stage of his life and also mine.”
It’s certainly the biggest stage either man has reached in their careers as they reach out to a world audience on HBO and BoxNation’s pay-per-view cameras in a potentially life-changing bout. And with so much at stake Johnson insists it’s his time to shine and show the world what he’s capable of.
“Saturday’s fight is a step in the right direction for me. Signing with Golden Boy has just given me the opportunity to display my talent. The last time I fought was January 9th right here at Madison Square Garden.
“I’m going to be much more active now. I believe I’m one of the next great fighters in the world. For me boxing is not a sport - it’s a lifestyle. I eat, breathe, sleep boxing. So without a shadow of a doubt, I know for certain that I am the next big thing in boxing and not just the middleweight division!
“I do love the limelight. I don’t allow it to consume me. I have been on the big stage in many of my fights. The Olympics in 2008 Beijing I made it to the quarter-finals there. I’ve fought on ‘Showtime’ and the big tv networks against Curtis Stevens. This is pay-per-view - the pinnacle, the icon of television. So this will only catapult me even higher.”