Johnson rumbles to upset of Jones

April 23, 1994|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Sun Staff Writer

LAS VEGAS -- "Poison" Junior Jones, a former street fighter from Brooklyn, N.Y., had the word "Rumble" inscribed on the back of his bright red trunks at Caesars Palace last night when he defended his World Boxing Association bantamweight title zTC against John Michael Johnson.

He got one.

What the champion did not expect was an all-out war against the 9-to-1 underdog from San Antonio. Johnson floored Jones twice before referee Richard Steele stopped the scheduled 12-rounder 1:21 of the 11th round with Jones sagging over the ropes.

Using his jab and quick combinations, Jones, now 32-1, led on two of the three scorecards, 96-93 and 95-94, with the third official having it a 95-95 draw after 10 rounds. But that was small solace to the beaten champion who had bragged before the match of being one of the best "pound-for-pound" fighters in the world.

Johnson (18-4) simply lacked respect for Jones' punching ability. He absorbed Jones' rapid-fire blows to deck the champion with a right hand in the fourth round. It was a right again in the 11th that led to Jones losing his 118-pound crown.

"I knew I could take him out," said Johnson. "I was slipping his punches and hurting him. He started dropping his hand after throwing a jab, and it was just a matter of time.

Said Jones, "I have no excuses. But I felt I could have continued fighting when the referee stopped it. But the bottom line is I didn't do the right things to win."

Steele defended his action.

"Jones was getting weak from the middle rounds on," said the referee. "Maybe taking off weight hurt him. I just kept him from taking unnecessary punishment."

Jones, who had a sizable height advantage over Johnson, utilized his sharp left jab to keep his rival on the defense in the opening minutes. Turning more aggressive, the champion shook Johnson with several hard combinations.

Johnson landed some telling punches in the second round, but lost most of the heated exchanges.

Jones moved quickly to the attack in the third round, forcing his challenger to retreat. A left hook staggered Johnson, but this only caused him to fight harder. He caught Jones with a bristling right just before the bell ended the third round.

The fight took a stunning turn in the fourth round when Johnson floored Jones with a flurry of punches. Jones was on the canvas, when Johnson landed another hard left, prompting a warning from Steele.

Jones regained his feet at the count of eight, but took heavy punishment the last minute of the round.

The champion was far more cautious in the fifth round while Johnson's confidence grew noticeably. He was willing to take a good shot to land one of his own.

Jones returned to jabbing and moving in the sixth round, with Johnson unable to beat him to the punch. In the seventh, he regained control of the match, scoring with effective combinations.

The two fighters stood toe-to-toe in the ninth round, both landing heavy punches, but neither giving ground. Jones was forced to fight off the ropes in the ninth round as Johnson kept winging overhand rights and wide hooks. It was a question of whether Jones' repeated light jabs counted as much as Johnson's thumping blows.

Jones continued to pile up points in the 10th round while Johnson tried to load up with his right hand.

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