Light heavyweight contender Callum ‘The One’ Johnson 17-1 (12) admits he froze in his world title loss to Artur Beterbiev 13-0 (13) on the weekend but hasn’t ruled out a rematch.
The 33-year-old from Boston, Lincolnshire appeared on the verge of springing the upset when he dropped the heavy-handed IBF 175-pound champion in the second round but Beterbiev rallied back to stop the Briton in the fourth round at the Wintrust Arena in Chicago on Saturday night.
“I did well. I had my moment,” Johnson said to iFL TV after the fight. “I just came up short against a better guy last night. I think with a little more activity, I could have done better and maybe got him out of there when I had the chance.
Johnson was on the canvas in the opening frame but caught the defending champion with a left hook in the following round to send him to the deck.
“I froze when I done him in the second round. I sort of froze when I didn’t follow up with it and I didn’t throw anything, and then he got back into the fight. He caught me in the fourth and that was it,” said Johnson.
Beterbiev put Johnson away with a single right hand in the fourth that saw the game challenger counted out at the 2:36 mark. At the time of the stoppage the 33-year-old Russian was leading by scores of 29-27 and 28-27 twice.
Johnson, who scored a surprise first-round TKO win over highly-touted Frank Buglioni 22-3-1 (16) in March, believes his performance against Beterbiev was good enough to warrant a rematch.
“In the not too distant future, I’d like to get in there with him again,” said Johnson. “I’d like to get couple of more fights in, stay active, and maybe win the British and European titles, and then get another fight with him.
“I do believe on my day if I perform the best I can perform, I can beat him. I think I proved that even last night, but I don’t think I performed at my best. I think it was one of those fighters where whoever landed first [would win]. He landed first, I landed second, and then it was all done. I’m proud of myself.
“He got his shots off and was the better man on the night. I’ll fight anybody in the world as long as it makes sense financially. Nobody wanted to fight him. Nobody has ever taken him in deep waters like that. It was a four-round slugfest, and four rounds where no one knew who was going to win.”
Despite the loss Johnson said the experience boosted his confidence to compete at the world class level.
“This is the first time I’ve been at this kind of level,” he said. “Against a fighter I was up against, I was up against the most feared fighter in my division. I didn’t fear him, but I think the occasion got to me.
“I’ll fight anybody in the world. When I’m inside the ropes, I don’t care who it is, I’m going to try and take their heads off. It’s that simple.”