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Glen Johnson vs. Yusaf Mack Fight Preview and Pick

Glen Johnson vs. Yusaf Mack Fight Preview and Prediction
Date: Friday, February 5th, 2010
Location: NSU Arena in Fort Lauderdale, Florida
TV: ESPN2 at 10:30 pm EST
IBF Title Eliminator: 12 Rounds

By Scotty L of

Glen Johnson, 49-13-2 (33 KOs), Miami, Florida Vs. Yusaf Mack, 28-2-2 (17 KOs), New York City.

Preliminary Betting Odds: Johnson (-220), Mack (+180)

Fight Analysis: In an IBF title eliminator, longtime standout Glen Johnson will battle rising contender Yusaf Mack to see who will become the mandatory challenger for Tavoris Cloudís IBF title.

Boxing fans know Johnson well. At 41, heís been around forever and captured a lot of interest with many high-profile wins. The hard-luck warrior has always been against it, fighting in his opponentís hometown and never seeming to get a lot of love from the judges. After beginning his career at 31-0, he lost to Bernard Hopkins in 1997, signaling the beginning of a swoon that would see him win only 7 of his next 18 fights in the next 6 years.

Going into 2004, you would have received odds in the thousands if you picked Johnson to become the Fighter of the Year. Thatís just what Johnson did, smashing Roy Jones in a cataclysmic upset, then beating champion Antonio Tarver to close out a great year and finalize the biggest career turnaround since the days of the Cinderella ManóJames J. Braddock. Maybe he cooled off a bit since, but still remains a top guy at 175 pounds.

Yusaf Mack, 30, hasnít exactly been pampered in his career either. After a decade in the pro ranks, he is only now getting the attention befitting such a talented fighter. After mixed results at super middleweight, he seems to have gained a new lease on his career since moving up to light heavyweight, having not lost since entering the division.

Mackís televised win over dangerous and highly ranked contender Chris Henry showed a more confident Mack using speed and punch variety to school his durable (and dirty) opponent. Longtime observers of Mack would have been remiss in not acknowledging marked improvement in the NYC-based campaigner.

Conversely, Johnson looked to be diminished in his last fight against Light Heavyweight Champion Chad Dawson. After giving Dawson fits in their first fight, he seemed off-balance and jaded in their November rematch. At 41, long past the point where most fighters stop being effective, the ďageless wonderĒ may finally be feeling his age.

The question is: Is Mack good enough to beat even a faded version of Johnson? Itís safe to say both fighters are headed in opposite directions, with Mack going up and Johnson going down. Just how up and down each fighter is going is a bit more problematic. Sure, Johnson didnít look good in his last fight, but that was against one of the better young champion in the sport. How good would Mack have looked against Chad Dawson? Sure he looked good against the one-dimensional Chris Henry, but Henry and Dawson are about as night-and-day as you can get in the light heavyweight division.

I just canít help but think, though, when a fighter like Johnson, with all that mileage on his body, starts looking a little shot itís time to start looking for a spot to bet against him. Is this one fight too early? Can the great old warrior stoke the fires one more time to repel a young and talented fighter? You could argue yes on these questions.

My feeling, however, is that Johnson might be a little overrated at this particular point in time. Only 7-4 in his last 11 fights, I think he has reached the point of no return. I think the public is still thinking about how great of a year he had in 2004, and how youthful he looked in his first match with Johnson. The betting public might not be fully acknowledging the fact that he is 41, and was starting to look it in his last fight.

Would I be terribly surprised if Johnson wins? No. But the more I see and read about Mack, the more I feel he can upset Johnson. He has been saying all the right things, and by all accounts, has had a great training camp. For the first time in a long while, he has had a long training camp and is free from some of the nagging injuries that have diminished some of his prior performances.

I donít think Mack is going to set the world on fire here. I just think his youth will give way to greater activity. I think heís tough enough to stand up to the pressure heís bound to face. This is contingent on the fact that Johnson is not what he once was and will therefore not be able to bring the heat like he used to. If Johnson can rekindle his youth, it would render this analysis rather moot.

But I donít think he will. I see Mack being the busier, quicker fighter. In a well-contested match, I see him doing enough to sneak home a decision winner.

Scottyís Pick: Take the +180 on Yusaf Mack to win.

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