Prior to facing Froch, Johnson stopped Allan Green (29-3, 20 KOs) in November of last year, a bout for which Bute offered him pre-fight encouragement and post-fight congratulations.
“We’ve got mutual respect for each other, also our team respects his team. I really cheered for him when he fought Allan Green and also when he fought Carl Froch. But with this, my career is on the line,” said Bute.
“This has nothing to do with respect or the friendship. If I have to fight I’m going to give it my all. There are no friends in the ring. We’re going to be friends after the bout. They can’t take away what I’ve been working for.”
Johnson scored three knockdowns in the sixth and final round of his knockout of Mack before losing a unanimous decision to Cloud after a toe-to-toe battle. A victory over Cloud would have made Johnson the oldest man to win a light heavyweight belt.
Johnson was required to drop weight for Green, whom the veteran outworked throughout most of the contest before ending the fight with a crushing, right-left-right combination that floored Green for good in the eighth round.
Green had also served as Johnson’s sparring partner in preparing him for a ninth-round stoppage of Roy Jones in September 2004.
Johnson was unbeaten at 32-0 in July 1997 before being knocked out for the only time in his career by Hopkins.
“Glen Johnson has seen almost everything in boxing. He’s always there and he’s always in great condition,” said Bute. “He’s been facing all of the greatest fighters — Jones, Tarver, Dawson twice, and he even fought Bernard Hopkins in his beginning.”
Just as he did with Green, Johnson said he will have no problem separating friend from foe when he meets Bute on Nov. 5.
“I have a lot of respect for Lucian and everything, but this is a situation where you’re fighting for your career, and you’re fighting for everything here,” said Johnson.
“So you’ve got to go out there and give it your all, and then you can resume your friendship later. But we’ve got to go out there and do what we do to win fights.”
Photos by Tom Casino, Showtime
Lem Satterfield can be reached at email@example.com