By John J. Raspanti, Doghouse Boxing
In a WBC heavyweight eliminator, Tyson Fury (20-0, 14 KOs) boxed and punched his way to a unanimous 12-round decision over American Kevin Johnson (28-3 13 KOs) at the Odyssey Arena, Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Fury came out aggressively in the opening stanza. He didn’t land anything of substance, but he did get Johnson’s attention. Johnson, with his left hand low, ate some jabs and studied Fury.
In round two, the 6’9” Fury continued to beat Johnson to the punch. Johnson stalked but did little else. He needed to get under the long jab of Fury. He landed an inside right that Fury ignored.
The fighters met in the center of the ring in round three. Fury went to the body and head of Johnson. He switched to southpaw halfway through the round. Johnson tried to land an overhand right but caught air. Fury landed an inside uppercut. Johnson still wasn’t doing enough. He looked sluggish and disinterested.
Fury kept up his activity in round four. Johnson, his hands high, kept leaning on Fury, but not punching. His chin had withstood some strong punches. His work rate was still disappointing. The pro Fury crowd booed at the end of the round.
Johnson, 32, finally landed a hard combination to the body in round five. He also landed a right hand. Fury popped Johnson with his jab. A chopping right did no damage.
In round six, Fury, 24, landed a three punch combination that knocked Johnson back. Johnson, who went the distance with Vitali Klitschko, took Fury’s punches. His beard is solid. He landed a sneaky right, but looked tired at the end of the round.
Fury backed Johnson up round seven. His jab snapped back the head of Johnson. Fury was penalized a point for punching on the break. Johnson dangled his left hand. The move was reminiscent of the late former heavyweight champion Sonny Liston. He probably wished he had some of Liston’s power.
Johnson was stung by a Fury combination in the first minute of round eight. Fury was boxing effectively. The Belfast slugger was more boxer than banger. This writer had Fury winning seven of the first eight rounds. Fury moved and boxed in round nine. His conditioning was impressive. Johnson stalked but did little else.
In round 10, Fury landed two long left hooks. A hard combination made Johnson smile. Johnson wanted Fury to stand in front of him fight. Fury did at times, but with control.
The last two rounds were a continuation of the previous 10. Fury keep jabbing and punching. Johnson was clearly frustrated. His limitations were obvious.
Scores were 119-110, 119-108, and 119-108.
“This guy (Johnson) is a world class fighter,” said Fury after the fight. “I wanted to box because I didn’t think I could knock him out.”
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