International Boxing Hall of Famer Mark “Too Sharp” Johnson expressed “regret for my wife and kids” in the wake of his arrest this past Tuesday on one count of possessing liquid PCP with intent to distribute, although the 41-year-old retired fighter declined further comment until after consulting his legal counsel next week.
Johnson was reportedly released on bond and is scheduled to appear in court on Jan. 16.
A former two-division titleholder who blazed the trail for sub-featherweight African American fighters before retiring in February of 2006, Johnson was a slick-boxing puncher with a solid chin, dazzling footwork and the ability to deliver blows from any angle whether coming forward or moving in reverse.
Johnson retired with a mark of 44-5, including 28 knockouts, and was the first African American to win belts in both the flyweight and junior bantamweight divisions. Johnson 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.
In September, Johnson called a Showtime-televised WBC junior welterweight eliminator knockout victory by Lucas Matthysse over Olusegun Ajose alongside Showtime’s former MMA announcer Mauro Ranallo and Al Bernstein, the latter of whom was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame with Johnson for the class of 2012.
Johnson was largely avoided by top 115-pound fighters of the day, including Johnny Tapia and Danny Romero.
Ranked as high as No. 3 in the RING’s pound-for-pound ratings, he dethroned IBF titleholder Francisco Tejedor by first-round knockout in May of 1996 to become boxing’s first black 112-pound titleholder.
Johnson defended that crown seven times until April 1999, when he rose to win the IBF’s 115-pound crown with a unanimous decision over Ratanachai Sor Vorapin in the first-ever fight at Washington, D.C.’s MCI Center, which is now the Verizon Center.
Another great milestone for Johnson was his win over former three-division titleholder Fernando Montiel, of Mexico, who was 27-0-1, with 21 knockouts, before Johnson won a majority decision for the WBO junior bantamweight crown in August of 2003.
Defeating Montiel helped Johnson to rebound from consecutive losses to a young Rafael Marquez by split-decision and eighth-round knockout in October of 2001 and February of 2002, respectively.
Johnson retired following his second straight loss in February of 2006 after falling by eighth-round knockout to former WBC featherweight titleholder Jhonny Gonzalez.
At the age of 40, Johnson became the the youngest boxer in history to be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame as well as its first inductee who was born and raised in Washington, D.C.
Johnson has worked as a specialist training at-risk youth.
Photo by Delane Rouse, Hogan Photos, Golden Boy Promotions
Lem Satterfield can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org