Champ wary of Johnson

MURRAY GREIG, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:02 AM ET

EDMONTON - The odds will be stacked against Edmonton’s Amy Johnson when she challenges World Boxing Organization lightweight champ Erin McGowan on Saturday in Mt. Claremont, Australia.

But that might not be such a bad thing.

“She’s the champion, she’s about three inches taller than me and she’ll have her hometown referee and judges ... but she’ll also have the hometown pressure,”

Johnson (7-2-3) said during a recent break in training at Avenue Boxing.

“It’s her first title defence, and even though she’s unbeaten (14-0), she’s bound to be nervous.”

Which is what Johnson is counting on.

“I just have to fight my fight — get in there and do what I’ve been training for,” she said.

“Having just fought a couple of weeks ago (four-round split decision over Peggy Maerz in Red Deer), it’s like I never skipped a beat. I’ve never felt better going into a fight.”

While Johnson has had the benefit of watching several of McGowan’s bouts on YouTube, the champ has voiced concern about knowing nothing of the Canadian’s style.

“We can’t get footage of Johnson ... that’s the problem with most female fighters, there is not much information on them,” McGowan said in an interview with Perth Today last week.

“I know she is tough and that she comes to fight, but that’s all.”

The 30-year-old champion hasn’t fought since notching a unanimous decision over Britain’s Lyndsey Scragg for the vacant WBO title last fall. Two years ago, Scragg dropped a 10-rounder to then WBC super featherweight champ Jelena Mrdjenovich at the Shaw Conference Centre.

“I’m definitely itching to get back in there, especially in front of my home crowd,” McGowan told the newspaper.

“I’m pretty excited about that. I’m also very excited to have my childhood hero, Jeff Fenech, working in my corner.”

McGowan said Fenech, a triple world champion at bantamweight and featherweight from 1985-89, has been a huge help.

“I’m learning heaps from Jeff every day,” she said. “He’s teaching me to work on angles a lot better and placing my punches so that I’m hitting with a lot more power.He’s teaching me to not waste any.”

Johnson, 28, has likewise been working on refining her offence — and the improvements were obvious in the win over Maerz on April 14.

Instead of falling into her usual pattern of moving straight forward behind an erratic jab, Johnson showed good lateral movement while patiently wearing down her shorter opponent with well-timed 1-2s.

“Ever since Terry Coveney started training me a couple of months ago, I’ve gotten a lot more relaxed and focused,” said Johnson.

“That’s how I’ll have to fight McGowan, too. Like I said, all the pressure is on her; I just have to block out everything else and take care of business.”

That’s as good a way as any to try to even those long odds.


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