Maybe a star wasn't born on that Main Events NBC Fight Night card Friday night, but a contender, a player at 160 damn sure was.
OK, raise your hand if you knew who the heck Tureano Johnson was, and what he was capable of doing, before Friday night.
That's not many, that's not many, you're in trouble out there…
All action, fan-friendly, cajones to the wall, predatory style, what was not to like from the Cuban-trained hitter, who lives in the Bahamas?
Well, for one thing, if we want to be know it alls, and nitpick, if you're his trainer, you probably want that tenth round against Curtis Stevens back, and you want your kid to fight a little bit smarter i.e. cautiously, so he skates to the finish line with the win intact…instead of breaking down in tears, which he was after he got TKO'd, and got emotional speaking to his promoter, Gary Shaw, postfight.
The stoppage–was it good? was it bad? was the ref in error? should Steve Smoger ref every fight every night?–dominated social media, with many folks not liking the timing of the plug-pulling by Gary Rosado in PA.
Me, I'm a “always better too early than too late kind of guy,” who supports the referee, who made the best call he could in the heat of the battle, after seeing Stevens land a filthy left hook, which buzzed Johnson badly. Rosado then saw Stevens flurrying, and Johnson not defending himself that well, and not answering back. and he did what he thought was the best course of action for the health and well-being of the boxer, which is his primary job. And remember, he didn't have the benefit of that super slo-mo replay that we all do at home…
I reached out to the “loser,” and wondered how he viewed the stoppage. “I don't agree with the stoppage, but I have to accept it,” the 30-year-old Johnson (14-1) told me. “I just think nothing can be done about it. I can't change it, so I've got to move on.”
He told the world the same when he Tweeted, a bit after the bout ended, “I could have taken a knee or clinched. Tell the fans I understand that.”
Noted. And props go to the man for not crying a river, understanding the ref was looking out for him.
And if there's a next time, what does he do differently, if anything? “Hopefully learn to tie up better,” Johnson told me.
His promoter, Gary Shaw, on Monday still thought his kid “deserved a chance to finish the fight.” He said he is of course totally mindful of the health and safety of the boxer, but noted that he agreed with those who pointed that if the guy who reffed the main event, the Steve Cunningham-Amir Mansour fight, Steve Smoger, worked the Stevens-Johnson bout, the result could have been different. OK, could have been…Or maybe Stevens keeps whaling away, and Johnson gets knocked cold, and pitches face first to the mat. Instead, he is ambulatory, and while disappointed, pumped to show that he has more to offer than he showed on Friday.
Shaw has a sparkling idea of a match that could easily draw interest, I think, from HBO. “I'd love to see Tureano against James Kirlkland,” he told me.
Shaw isn't looking back on the ninth round break, and wishing the Johnson corner told their guy to run out the clock. Me neither. You dance the sort of dance that brought you to the county fair finals, in my view. The Johnson method, balls to the wall, pure aggression, is what the fans respond to, and what sells. And guess what? He should be rewarded handsomely for fighting in this manner, and this loss shouldn't affect his prospects, not one stitch. He risked greatly the whole way through, and for that, he deserves ample reward. What about a rematch with Stevens, is that a possibility? Shaw says Johnson asked him to set it up, and he's happy to do it on a Main Events card, to boot. “It shows what a warrior he is,” the promoter stated. “Or I'd like Johnson versus Kirkland on an HBO opener, that would be spectatuclar. He's proved his mettle.”
That he did; Stevens' promoter Kathy Duva agrees. She also agrees with me, and thinks the stoppage was righteous. “I thought the stoppage was correct,” she told me. “Curtis was teeing off on Johnson, his hands were down by his sides. Everyone taking issue with the stoppage, they wanted Curtis to knock him more silly? I also think the aftermath bore out the correctness of the stoppage, it took Johnson a few seconds to realize what happened.”
Duva also pointed out that Johnson, after round eight, walked back to the wrong corner, and that it took him a bit to realize this. “Nobody can really judge how conscious he was or wasn't. I agree, it's better too early than too late. He lives to fight another day.”
Duva agrees with Shaw, and me, that the “loss” doesn't diminish a guy who came in an unknown. “He should get tons of opportunities,” she said. What about against Stevens again? “I couldn't ask those two to do that again to each other with the budget I have,” Duva said.
Shaw said he knew what he had in Johnson when he signed the Bahamas resident two years ago, but didn't advertise that going into the Stevens fight, for fear of scaring off Team Stevens. “We thought he'd wint he fight. We didn't build him up,” he noted. “He's not a “typical” Cuban fighter. Everybody told me he was a real fighter, TV friendly, a real good puncher.”
They weren't lying. I'm much looking forward to seeing what this all-action Cuban/Bahamanian does in his next tangle.
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