"You'll get the best of me!" Callum Johnson will face Joe Smith jnr for WBO light heavyweight title a wiser fighter

Boston boxer preparing for January showdown after learning tough lessons

Callum Johnson. Photo: Getty Images

Callum Johnson will go into his second world title fight a wiser man.

As the Boston light heavyweight prepares to face WBO champ Joe Smith jnr in Verona, New York, next month, he believes lessons have been learned the hard way.

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Johnson’s first world title fight was against IBF belt holder Artur Beterbiev in 2018 where, despite sending the Russian to the canvas, he was stopped in the fourth round.

Looking back at that fight in Chicago, Johnson believes the occasion got the better of him.

“I go to this one a far better man, mentally,” he said.

“I wouldn’t say physically, I’ve been at a physical peak for two or three years anyway.

“(Against Beterbiev) I was god enough, but I don’t believe I was maybe mentally strong enough then. I am now, I’ll deal with the occasion and give everything.

“You’ll get the best of me that night, there’ll be no doubts or mind game problems. I won’t let the occasion get to me.

“The best of me will be in that ring and I know my best is good enough to be the winner.”

That bout against Beterbiev was Johnson’s first in the United States, and his first experience of being under the global spotlight.

“It was a massive pressure,” he continued.

“I don’t believe I dealt with it too well. I wasn’t the favourite but the pressure I put on myself I seemed to feel.”

But Johnson says that experience has made him stronger and he will fly back to the States for his January 15 fight ready for whatever’s thrown at him.

“I will deal with it this time, take it in my stride,” he said.

“I’m headlining as well this time. To be headlining for a world championship in America, in New York, it’s crazy stuff.

“At the same time, I’ve been there and done it and it won’t overwhelm me this time. I’ll just go about my business and do what I have to do.”