Forgotten Legends- Tom “Boom Boom” Johnson

By: Steve Gallegos

There have been many fighters over the years that haven’t received the respect they deserved and that definitely is the case with former featherweight champion Tom “Boom Boom” Johnson.

“Boom Boom” was a hard-nosed, blue collar type of fighter who always showed up in top shape and ready to fight anytime he stepped into the ring. He was willing to take on all comers and during the 1st few years of his career, he fought 6-7 times a year facing all types of styles in the ring.
He was a very durable, versatile technician who adapted very well to his opponent’s style on the fly. He would go 26-1-1 from 1986-1991 before challenging IBF featherweight champion Manuel Medina in November, 1991. It was a good close fight that ended up going to the scorecards due to a cut caused by an accidental headbutt. Johnson would lose a technical decision; however it didn’t shake his confidence one bit as he was back in the ring only 2 months later.

In February, 1993, after winning his next 4 fights, he would face Medina again in a rematch and would pull out a close split decision earning him the IBF featherweight championship. He would then defend his title 10 times over the next 4 years fighting all over the world.

In early 1997, he would face fellow titleholder “Prince” Naseem Hamed in Hamed’s home country of Great Britain. He would lose on an 8th round TKO, ending an 18 fight win streak. He would never again challenge for a world title and would go 7-7 from 1997-2002.

In 1999 he did have one more fight in the spotlight when he faced former two-time featherweight champion Junior Jones in a battle of former champions meeting at the crossroads. The fight was nationally televised on TNT’s short-lived boxing series, “Title Night”. While Jones did dominate the early rounds with his crisp boxing, Johnson was able to take Jones out of his rhythm late in the fight, turning the fight into a slugfest in which “Boom Boom” was able to get the better of Jones in many exchanges. He would lose a 12 round unanimous decision.

He retired in 2002 with a record of 51-10-2 with 28 KO’s. He never seemed to get the due that he so richly deserved. An honest, hardworking gentleman who gave everything he got whenever he stepped into that squared circle. He isn’t in the Hall of Fame as of yet and he definitely deserves to have his spot in Canastota alongside all the other greats. Until then, he remains an underrated, unsung hero of the prize ring. Wherever he is, we would like for him to know that he is not forgotten.


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