Is Kevin Johnson A Title Hopeful?

By Tom Donelson
Updated: August 6, 2007

IOWA CITY, Ia. – On the most recent SHOBOX program, heavyweight Kevin Johnson faced Damian Wills, another prospect with only one lost on his record.

While Johnson has proven to be a slick boxer but with only six knockouts in his previous 15 victories, he has yet to show that knock out power that puts fear in the heart of his opponent.

Wills came in the fight with more knockouts than Johnson had victories, but there was always the suspicion that many of those knockouts against inferior opposition. He stepped up in his last fight against Chris Arreola.

For Wills, this was a chance at redemption and a second chance to move his career forward. The stakes was high for both fighters but for Wills, the stake was even higher. Another loss could damage Wills’ career more so than Johnson. It’s easier in today’s boxing world to recover from one loss as opposed to two losses.

Wills came after Johnson in the first round.

His goal was to pound Johnson to the body and over power him on the inside. The goal was to slow Johnson down and make him an easier target.

And the first round, Johnson showed the wisdom of the strategy or it would appear. He almost invited Wills inside and even moved to the rope to make it even easier for Wills to pound him further.

Johnson’s confidence and apparent arrogance pushed this promotion. It was as if hewas out to prove that Wills could not hurt him and that he could punish Wills anytime.

If Johnson has shown anything in his young career, it is his ability to talk and talk and talk. He loves to trash talk and Wills was his latest victim of the Johnson lip.

Wills, who did not appreciate being the foil to Johnson’s latest trash talk, decided to punish Johnson and teach him a lesson in matters.

As for Johnson, he wasn’t just determined to beat Wills, he wanted to punish him simply because he could. The first round was won by Wills, but only because Johnson allowed him to win.

From the second round on, Johnson took control. He unleashed his jab, time and time again.

Wills’ face could not escape Johnson’s jab. After establishing his jab, Johnson let loose with quick right hands and even threw in a left hook on occasion.

As the fight continued, Johnson found Wills an easier target and Wills own punches lost their steam.

When he had Wills in the middle of the ring, it was nothing more than target practice.

And just to show Wills who was in command, Johnson would simply allow Wills to pound on him. Johnson started to beat Wills on the inside, and then just to humiliate his opponent, he would start talking to ring card ladies.

It appeared that one of the ring card girls favored Wills and he felt the need to tell her that she was favoring the wrong horse in this battle.

He would not even bother to look at Wills, he just stared and talked with the ladies. Wills never could take advantage of Johnson’s talkfest with the ring girls.

It was as if Johnson tempted fate, but on this night fate placed second to Johnson.

The fight ended with an easy unanimous decision for Johnson, but many questions remained. He has quick hands and fast feet for a heavyweight. With a long reach added to the speed, Johnson has the potential to be a rising star in today’s heavyweight division but there appear to be one thing missing — power.

Johnson continuously nailed Wills with solid power shots but he did appear to be worst for wear.

As many times that Wills got nailed, Johnson should have finished Wills off before the final round.

As for Wills, he is slowly moving away from the prospect category to straight opponent. He fell further behind other young heavyweights. Wills has now lost decisively to two other young prospects.

In the audience was former heavyweight champ Evander Holyfield and the comparison couldn’t be more stark.

Johnson has the speed but he lacks the skills of Holyfield.

Holyfield at Johnson’s stage was the best cruiserweight in the world and a fighter who combined both power and speed. The “Real Deal” was one of the best heavyweights and his overall knowledge of the ring was legendary.

Johnson lacks Holyfield’s fluidity and overall skills. Without Holyfield’s power, his rise to the top may be short circuited. Even Chris Byrd, a slick boxing light punching heavyweight, knocked out nearly half of his opponent.

Johnson is entertaining and loves to talk to the audience and opponents.

So far he has backed up his talk, but eventually the power quotient must come in play.