Sports

Johnson-Munguia fight is on; set for October

It’s been more than a year since Bahamian professional middleweight boxer Tureano “Reno” Johnson has stepped in the ring competitively. That drought is about to come to an end as he prepares to take on Mexican fighter Jaime Munguia in October in what is promised to be an exciting showdown. It is set to be held at the Fantasy Springs Resort Casino in Indio, California.

The bout will be the headliner on popular boxing network DAZN on either October 17 or October 30 under the Golden Boy Promotions tag. The date will be finalized later. Ironically, that venue is where Johnson last fought, in July 2019, capturing the North American Boxing Federation (NABF) middleweight title in a fight against Irishman Jason Quigley. That location is pending but it is unofficially the Golden Boys Promotions’ home base, the first venue 

where they staged a fight after the COVID-19 pandemic ceased sports worldwide.

The pandemic brought sports to a sudden pause from March to July. Many leagues and sports have restarted and have instituted protocols to combat COVID-19. Bahamian fighter Johnson is excited to get a chance to hit opponents again.

“Am I excited to get back into the ring? Excited is an understatement. I miss the thrill of fighting on the big stage, providing for my family, making my country proud and doing what God has blessed me to do,” Johnson said.

Munguia vacated his junior middleweight belts after moving up to the middleweight division in January of this year. The Bahamian and his team have had their eyes on him all year. According to Johnson, he does not take his opponent lightly, stating that he is dangerous, but Johnson said that he considers himself more dangerous.

This was not the fight that Johnson initially wanted. He said he wanted to go up against Mexican Canelo Alvarez, the World Boxing Council’s (WBC) Franchise Middleweight Champion and the World Boxing Association’s (WBA) Super Middleweight Champion, who is regarded as the current pound for pound world champion.

“He’s (Munguia) going up against a battle-tested Tureano, who has transformed as a fighter, for the best. I’ve been at the top for a while now, with a world title just at my fingertips. I am more eager, more determined, more driven. I am hungrier than ever before. We were preparing for Canelo Alvarez who is the current pound for pound world champion, but Munguia will do. He’s another undefeated fighter with a lot of potential. I don’t see a man in front of me, but an obstacle that stands between me and a world title,” Johnson stated.

The 2008 Bahamian Olympian has a 21-2-1 win/loss/draw record with 15 of those wins coming by way of knockout. Munguia has an unblemished 35-win record with 28 of those wins coming by knockout. There is a 13-year age difference between the two fighters with Johnson at age 36 and Munguia at age 23. In the WBC middleweight rankings, the Bahamian is ranked at number five and two spots higher is the Mexican at number three.

“Pushing my body to the brink, not holding anything back, I’m giving everything in the gym,” Johnson said. “I am stronger, faster, wiser and smarter. I’ve lost a lot of time, yet my father had always told me, I’m a late bloomer – I will come into myself later than most. I understand what he means now. I am grateful to God Almighty.”

Johnson is now in Atlanta, Georgia, training after a short stint in Florida. His training intensity has increased, from two times per day to four times per day. He and his team are looking good, Johnson said. They have wrapped up strength training and are moving into the next phase – sprints.

Before he went to Florida and Georgia to train, Johnson was on New Providence training in the midst of restrictions brought on from the COVID-19 pandemic – something he called “different”. He said he experienced a number of setbacks in getting back in the gym in May when professional athletes were allowed to resume training. Eventually, he returned to the gym after finally getting access to the national boxing facility.

“To me, the pandemic hasn’t made my training too difficult, but different. This is when creativity, innovation and resilience show up. What made it difficult for my training at home was going through so much just to get access to the national boxing training facility,” Johnson said. “Now I’m in Atlanta where I am welcomed to train at liberty, likewise in Florida. It’s not a good feeling being welcomed away from home but denied at home. That is behind me now, and our focus is on Munguia.”

After this bout, Johnson is looking to fight in December against WBA Regular Middleweight Champion Japanese Ryōta Murata. That depends on how negotiations go.

Over the last few weeks, the resilient boxer was active with his “Big Brother, Big Sister” Outreach Ministry. He hosted sessions on Zoom for young men and women, bringing in guest speakers. As a result of his training schedule, Johnson has decided to do the Zoom show bi-weekly, while he prepares for the Munguia bout.

Through it all, Johnson thanks his support system that includes his wife, daughter, mother, father, other relatives and friends and the entire Bahamas. He mentioned Apostle Phalmon Ferguson, Minister of Social Services and Urban Development Frankie Campbell, Aquapure and K.S. Moses as some of his biggest supporters.

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Simba French

Simba joined The Nassau Guardian in 2012 as a technical producer for Guardian Radio 96.9 FM. He joined the Editorial Department as a sports reporter in 2018. Simba has covered a wide range of sports stories, including the 2018 CARIFTA in Nassau, Bahamas. Education: College of the Bahamas, BA Media Journalism

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