Lem Satterfield

Q&A with Mark Johnson: There’s life after jail for Mayweather

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Former two-division titleholder Mark “Too Sharp” Johnson, the first African-American fighter to win a flyweight title, spoke to RingTV.com on Wednesday for this Q&A concerning Floyd Mayweather Jr.

On Friday, Mayweather will begin serving a 90-day jail sentence in the Clark County Detention Center in Las Vegas as the result of a Dec. 21 guilty plea to a charge of misdemeanor battery domestic violence and no contest on two counts of harassment.

Mayweather, who turns 35 in February, was also ordered to pay a $2,500 fine, to complete 100 hours of community service and to undergo 12 months of treatment in a domestic violence program for a situation that stems from an argument involving Mayweather’s ex-girlfriend and two of their children last September.

Johnson can relate to Mayweather’s problem. The Washington, D.C., native, who was recently elected into the International Boxing Hall of Fame, was the reigning IBF junior bantamweight titleholder in January of 2000 when he began serving an 11-month sentence that resulted from an altercation with his then-wife and the mother of two of his children.

Yet Johnson finished a Hall of Fame career with a mark of 44-5 that included 28 knockouts despite being ducked by standout fighters of his day from 108 to 115 pounds, such as Johnny Tapia, Danny Romero, Humberto Gonzalez and Michael Carbajal.

“I was still the IBF 115-pound champ, so that was a big source of frustration for me,” said Johnson, who was ranked as high as No. 3 in the sport’s pound-for-pound ratings at one time in his career, which ended in February of 2006.

“At that time, of course, right then and there, I was still trying to make the best fights possible that were there for me to be able to move forward. It was sort of just like Floyd is right now during this critical point of his career.”

Rated No. 2-pound-for-pound by THE RING, Mayweather (42-0, 26 knockouts) scored a fourth-round knockout of Victor Ortiz in September that earned him the WBC’s welterweight title belt.

But Mayweather’s impending incarceration all-but foils his targeted date of May 5 for a return to the ring at the MGM Grand against an opponent to be determined. That rival was meant to be RING No. 1-rated pound-for-pound WBO welterweight beltholder Manny Pacquiao.

Given the extent of Mayweather’s sentence, there is a significant question as to whether or not Mayweather will even be licensed by the Nevada State Athletic Commision’s five-member committee, let alone, if he will even have time enough to begin training for a fight on that date.

But Johnson is among those who do not believe that Mayweather’s imprisonment spells the end of his career.

“The first thing that I would tell Floyd is to go in there and to stay focused. You only have 90 days. Work out when you can work out. I worked out all the time. Monday through Friday. I excercised Monday through Friday,” said Johnson, who works nowadays with at-risk youth.

“I think Floyd Mayweather needs to say to himself, ‘You know, I think that I can go in there and get this over with, come out and make the biggest fights possible,’ you know? Whatever fights that may be.”

In May of 1996, Johnson dethroned IBF titleholder Francisco Tejedor by first-round knockout to become boxing’s first black flyweight titleholder, this, thanks to his dazzling speed, uncommon punching power for his size and an uncanny ability to deliver accurate blows from an array of angles.

Johnson defended that crown seven times until April 1999, when he rose to win the IBF’s junior bantamweight crown with a unanimous decision over Ratanachai Sor Vorapin.

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