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Classy Johnson too good for American
Gordon Williams, Gleaner Writer
American Daniel Judah tried to use his head in more ways than one Friday night against Glen Johnson, but in the end he was outfoxed and outboxed by the Jamaican in their light heavyweight bout here.
Johnson totally dominated the 10-round fight to win a unanimous decision against Judah - with all three judges scoring it a lopsided contest - to avenge a draw between the two six years ago.
Yet, despite his show of boxing skills and punching power, including a stunning right hand which sent Judah sprawling into the ropes to take a standing eight count late in the first round, the former world champion had to tolerate Judah's not-so-subtle head games. The American showboated and taunted Johnson for most of the bout, despite trailing on the scorecards throughout. He dangerously clashed heads with the Jamaican a few times, including one incident that halted the bout briefly in the final round to allow the fighters time to recover.
"He hurt me with the head butt," said Clarendon-born Johnson while cooling down in his dressing room after the fight. "The man bucked me like a cow."
Johnson, the World Boxing Council's number-one contender in the 175-pound division, appeared less concerned about Judah's punching ability than the possibility of missing upcoming bouts, including a mandatory title fight possibly this summer.
"I was just more in fear of getting cut than anything else," said the 40-year-old, who improved his record to 49 wins, 12 losses and two draws with 33 knockouts. "I want to get into the ring as soon as possible and with a cut it would have been a setback. So I was a little bit nervous there with the collision."
It didn't appear that Judah, who suffered his fourth loss against 23 wins and three draws, could rattle the Florida-based Johnson with anything else. Dressed in his usual Jamaican colours and enjoying the support of the crowd at the Hard Rock Live venue, Johnson set about his job to dismantle Judah early. He pursued the constantly retreating American relentlessly across the ring, hammering him with big blows to the head and body from a crisp cocktail of jabs, straight rights and uppercuts.
But the 31-year-old Brooklyn, New York native refused to go down, and on several occasions could be seen talking to Johnson, perhaps trying to convince the Jamaican - and himself - he was not hurt. It didn't work. In the end, it appeared Judah was just trying to hang on, a plan Johnson said he was seeing more often now from opponents.
"I faced a southpaw, a tall guy with a strategy of surviving," Johnson explained. "So it kinda also gets me prepared and kinda get used to somebody trying to survive with surviving tactics in the future. So I realised that I just need to get one or two more steps and get a little bit closer before I started running my combinations."
His own adjustment almost backfired as well.
"When I started to do that the heads started to get involved," Johnson said, "and it kinda of made me a little bit shy of it again."
Judah appeared timid for much of the fight. He backed away consistently and could only raise a claim to winning possibly one of the 10 rounds when he finished the fourth with a flurry of looping rights, which caught Johnson on the side of the head.
But the crowd rallied Johnson, with shouts of "Come on Jamaica!", "Break him down Glen!" echoing across the arena. And with the exception of a dazzling exchange of punches between the fighters early in round 10, Judah never threatened to snatch the fight again.