After being imprisoned, Johnson emerged as a bantamweight, where he scored consecutive victories by unanimous decision and sixth-round knockout over Sergio Perez and Arturo Valenzuela in June and July of 2001. Johnson then suffered consecutive losses to a young Rafael Marquez, by split-decision and eighth-round knockout in October of 2001 and February of 2002.
“I came out and I fought two more fights,” said Johnson. “And then, I went straight into the Rafael Marquez fight, which is a fight that I thought that I clearly won before they took it from me an hour later [Editor's note: Johnson was originally announced the winner of the bout, but a scoring error on one of the official scorecards was discovered minutes later. Once retallied, Marquez won a split decision. Johnson, who had already left the arena, was informed of the outcome change an hour later in his hotel room.]. The second fight with Marquez, you know, I lost that one.”
Two fights later, however, Johnson returned to the junior bantamweight ranks, where he scored a signature victory over former three-division titleholder Fernando Montiel, of Mexico, for the WBO belt. Montiel was 27-0-1, with 21 knockouts, before losing to Johnson.
“For a guy like me to do a year, and then, come back and win a title again? I think that it’s easier for a guy like Floyd to come in and do 90 days,” said Johnson. “It may be something where Floyd has to look at it like, ‘with all of these distractions I’ve been dealing with, you know, I need this 90-day rest.’”
Below are portions of the interview with Johnson in Q&A format.
RingTV.com: What happened with your situation?
Mark “Too Sharp” Johnson: I had a parole violation after doing four years on a supervised release of five years. I violated my parole and my probation. I had an altercation with a young lady, who is my ex-wife now. So I went to jail for a year.
I actually turned myself in. I actually had a self- surrender. My self-surrender date, if I’m not mistaken, was January 21, 2000. And my release date was December 23 of 2000. So I went in January of 2000 and came out in December of 2000.
RingTV.com: How difficult was it to get beyond any anger you might have felt concerning your situation, to accept your role in your own circumstances?
MJ: Eventually, I accepted my role in my situation. But initially, I felt like it was a set up to me. Sometimes, when it comes to men and women in the court of law, you can feel like it seems like men don’t have a chance. A ghost of a chance.
Even though it was shown that in my case, the young lady was provoking and the young lady struck me first, my situation was more of a reaction. So that’s the crazy part about it all. At that time, my son was maybe eight, and my daughter was something like 12 years old.
I came home knowing that I had to serve a year. But what can you do at that time? I don’t know if I’ve really gotten away from the resentment, to be honest.
RingTV.com: What is involved in the mental and practical preparation of going to jail?
MJ: Well, I was sentenced in November, but I had a self-surrender date that allowed me an ample amount of time to deal with some immediate concerns involving my family and my businesses and things like that.
I think that my last fight was a no-contest against Raul Juarez in November of 1999. I was still the IBF 115-pound champ, so that was a big source of frustration for me.
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.