James Johnson: “I will prove why women shouldn’t fight men Ann Wolfe couldn’t beat 50% of James Johnson!”
Interview by "Big Dog" Benny Henderson Jr. (June 28, 2005)
Whether you agree or disagree on a male versus female bout in boxing, in which I disagree, the one thing you can’t deny is that the guy who steps out and actually accepts that challenge has to have a wheelbarrow full of balls or just plain doesn’t give a hoot about what the critics say.
Photo © Benny Henderson Jr.
Well, say hello to ‘Gentleman’ James Johnson, the guy who doesn’t own a wheelbarrow but could care less what may spew out of the naysayers mouths. Ann Wolfe said she would do it, the Mississippi Athletic Commission has approved it and James Johnson will accept it. Yes, on August 20th at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi, MS to the dismay and dislike of many fight fans veteran James Johnson, 18-14-2 (11), will face off against Ann Wolfe, 20-1 (14); yes, Ann Wolfe, the female boxer.
No, this isn’t the first time a man and woman has fought one another, but this will probably be the most publicized and that is why James Johnson is taking this fight. Publicizing this bout brings opportunity to Johnson’s career at least in his eyes it does. But is it good publicity? NO! But any publicity to James is well worth the ride.
The Texas native who now resides out of Louisiana laced up the gloves at the young age of nine years old, and his twenty years of boxing has taught him a few things, when you see an opportunity you grab it and run with it. That philosophy has bit him in the butt a few times in the past, managing himself at one time the youngster would take fights that wasn’t necessarily good for himself at that particular time. After smashing out a stellar amateur career that had him competing in nearly one hundred bouts and earning him a Silver Medal in the National Junior Olympics and a Bronze in the National PAL tournament, James stepped in the pro ranks in 1999. In his first year as a pro fighter Johnson banged out a 6-1-2 record, all seemed going well for the pugilist but the L’s started coming one after another. Traveling to his opponent’s hometown earned him the losing end of many close decisions while being over matched in other bouts proved almost fatal, despite all Johnson kept slugging it out, even enough to strap on the WBF Americas Welterweight Title.
In his eight years as a pro Johnson has faced the likes of Richard Savage, Yuri Foreman, Sechew Powell, Bronco McKart and Lou Del Valle, all losing efforts, but nevertheless he gave an effort. James doesn’t mind the criticism, he has thick skin and can take verbal punishment along with physical punishment as well, but how would he take losing to a girl?
He says there is no way he would lose to a girl, even if that girl is the hard-hitting Ann Wolfe. Why take on a girl? Why take the abuse from the critics and boxing world to do so? What can James Johnson gain from this experience? In this exclusive interview James Johnson talks to the Doghouse and gives his reasoning on accepting the Battle of the Sexes match-up, enjoy.
Benny Henderson Jr.: OK, first off I want to let you sound off on your recent bout against JoJo Aiken last week, you aren’t happy with the outcome but you felt it should have ended before then explain your reasoning.
James Johnson: Absolutely, I mean the first round he tried to push hard by using his jab and power and in the second round I picked up a bit and I was able to counter his jab with my right hand because he was getting a bit lazy. By the third round I had him beat, I was able to out jab him and counter punch him and then I stunned him and he was down and out for over ten seconds, I counted fourteen in my head, everybody knew he was out. Well he got up and I dropped him again, I know this is boxing, you have your ups and your downs but this guy was out of the ring, he had help getting back in the ring by the judges, there is supposed to be no help getting back in the ring. The came to our dressing room before the fight and stressed that if we went out of the ring we got to get back in there with no help. When Aiken went out of the ring the ref helped him back in and then began to count. It is boxing you know, I just thank God that I can out of the fight unharmed. I think that I proved my point that I am a better fighter.
BH: OK, I want to ask what prompted you to take this fight with Ann Wolfe, what are you gaining from this experience?
JJ: She called me out; out of all the thousands of light heavyweights in the world Ann Wolf called the name “Gentleman” James Johnson. Here I am doing my thing in boxing and she can’t find a woman to box so she wanted to fight a man and she called me out. Hey, I am a professional fighter and I fight for money, if the promoter makes the money right I will fight King Kong. She called me out.
BH: Some would look at this situation as a lose/lose situation for yourself, you win, you beat a girl, you lose and you get beat by a girl, what are your thoughts?
JJ: I look at this the same way, if I go in there and knock her out, well then they say I knocked a woman out, exactly. Well, if I lost to her then my career would be pretty much over because I lost to a woman, but on the other hand I get a chance to make history and to prove a point. I have the chance to be the one person in the world to prove why this should not be done. When it is all over and done with I will have been the one to prove why men should be fighting men and women should be fighting women. Like I said she called me out.
BH: Why do you think she called you amongst all the other guys?
JJ: In her mind she thinks I am a tomato can, but I am going to make this statement and prove her wrong.
BH: What are your friends and family saying about this fight?
JJ: I was against the fight at first, and people were like what if you lose to a woman, well to start with I am not going to lose to her! She is not stronger than me, shoe doesn’t hit harder than me and she doesn’t take a better punch than me. Everybody says that she hits so hard and she takes such a good punch, she hits hard against a woman and she has been taking punches from women. I know I am not the hardest puncher but I do have very good power and I have good hand speed. I asked my wife about this fight, boxing just isn’t about me anymore; I do it for my family now. I asked her opinion on it and she said James she called you out so beat her ass! (Laughs) So hey I got permission. I have never hit a woman in my life, but when I get in the ring it won’t be a woman in front of me. When I fight I don’t see a fighter in front of me, all I see is an animal and we are going to war and may the best animal win.
BH: You never said you hit a woman before, so how do you mentally prepare for this bout because this is a girl.
JJ: I will go to camp and train as I always do and I can’t go wrong.
BH: Will you be sparring with women?
JJ: I will be sparring with men, I will nor be sparring with any women, I don’t want to get used to holding back because I am not going to hold back on her.
BH: There has been some criticism on this Male versus Female match up, what response would you give to the critics on this bout that could convince them that this fight is acceptable?
JJ: You have these different sports; you have Indy racing and a woman racing with the men. You have a woman golfer playing in the PGA with the men, all these women are competing with men so why not let this woman compete as well? I am not going to fully support this but I have my reasons for doing this. There is going to be endless opportunities for me with all this exposure, this is good for me because I have lost some fights because I have taken some stupid fights. I will be the first man to do this and I will be bale to prove why this should or shouldn’t be done.
BH: Is there anything about Ann that concerns you coming into this fight?
JJ: No there is nothing that concerns me, everybody says that she is half man; well if she is half man then I am all man. So nothing concerns me. She hits hard, well she hits woman hard, she has been taking punches from women, I have seen her fight live before and I seen how Sunshine who can’t crack and egg had both of her eyes swollen, now imagine if I hit her. You personally just saw what I did to nearly a 6’4” light heavyweight who is a man who can take a punch.
BH: Are you worried that this fight will cast a shadow over your career; I mean from now on you will be known as the guy who fought a woman?
JJ: Look at it this way, after I defeat her, look at all these fighters and promoters and top rated contenders, they will say hey look he knocked the number one woman out let’s see if he can knock me out. All this is going to do is open opportunities. If I were to lose then that would cast a shadow, but I am not going to lose, so I am not worried about this one bit.
BH: If Ann were reading this interview, what would you say to her?
JJ: (Laughs) Well I can’t say may the best man win, so hey, may the best warrior win. I am confident in my ability and like I said she chose me and I will prove to the world why she shouldn’t have.
BH: Is there anything you would like to add in closing?
JJ: I am more focused and I am more determined than ever than I ever have been in my career. I have a great management team and Brian Young as a promoter so I have great people behind me now and there are endless opportunities for my career now. So look out because I am coming for the number one spot! And as far as Ann Wolfe, I am not going to even work hard in the gym for this fight because I am confident in my ability and she can’t beat me, Ann can’t beat fifty percent of James Johnson.
I want to thank James Johnson for his thoughts it is greatly appreciated. Stay tuned for an interview with the lady boxer in this match-up when Ann Wolfe steps in the Doghouse to tell her side to this story.
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