DCSIMG

Prince Naseem tips Johnson to breathe new life into boxing

Naseem Hamed tipped his protégé Callum Johnson to put the sparkle back into boxing as the former multiple world champion officially launched his management career.

Naseem has returned to the sport he quit in 2002 after deciding he had too much knowledge not to pass on. And the 36-year-old looks set to bring as much colour to his spell in management as he did to his fighting career after enthusing about light-heavyweight Johnson at a media conference in Glasgow.

Prince Naseem sees something of himself in 25-year-old Johnson, who won gold for Scotland at the Commonwealth Games last month.

Lincolnshire-based Johnson is, unsurprisingly, a more unassuming character outside the ring than his manager but Hamed is excited by his "explosive" style and aims to guide him to a world title. Johnson will make his professional debut on the undercard of Ricky Burns' WBO title defence against Andreas Evensen at Braehead Arena near Glasgow on 4 December, and Hamed has warned fans not to take their eye off his contender.

Sheffield-born Hamed, who enjoyed 23 successful world title fights, said: "To be honest, I never thought I was going to come back into boxing. But, as the years went by, there were a lot of people who said: 'With the knowledge you've got why would you not pass it on?' I had a good think about that and the opportunity came up with Callum. Even if he was the only one, I would be happy.

"I'm not going to overdo my schedule with a lot of fighters. I'm fortunate enough to have done well in the game and I'm financially stable, thank God.

"I got to spend a lot of time with my beautiful kids, I've got three boys, and that's one of the big reasons I came out of the game at the age of 28. Now is the time to put something back in.

"Boxing has become a bit downtrodden and it needs some sparkle. Callum Johnson is going to be the guy to put that in. He is going to be the best breath of fresh air boxing can have."

Johnson won 95 of his 120 fights at amateur level and his manager has backed him to hit the ground running in the professional arena. "I think his first ten fights will be ten knockouts and he'll be world champion within three years," Hamed said.

"People can doubt me but I know the game well. I've seen him throw one of the best left hooks I've ever seen. When an amateur does that, God only knows what he is going to do as a professional.

"As crisp and as precise as he throws it, I'm telling all those light-heavyweights right now, if you get hit with that left hook, it's goodnight. If you don't believe me go on to YouTube and watch one of the fastest knockouts ever. One punch and the guy is nearly halfway out of the ring. I've been studying him and figuring a whole way of improving his style. But I already love his confidence, he reminds me a bit about myself.He knows he can knock people out.

"When you watch this guy on 4 December, don't blink, because you will miss that left hook."

Johnson, whose maternal grandparents are from Glasgow, shares his manager's excitement about their working relationship.

The twice-Scottish amateur champion said: "When I was a kid I used to stay up late to watch him and to be working with him now is like a childhood dream.

"I'm so excited to be turning professional and making my debut up in Scotland, with Naz as my manager and Frank Warren as my promoter.

"What more could you ask for? Boxing live on Sky Sports too. I was here when Ricky won the title in the Kelvin Hall and what a night that was. To be making my debut on his undercard is unbelievable and I'm so proud to be able to do that."

 
 
 

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