Forgotten Legends: John ‘The Eastern Beast’ Brown

By: Steve Gallegos

There are some fighters who train hard, fight tough and for some reason or another cannot get to that next level and become world champion. That was the case for former Jr. Lightweight and Lightweight contender John The Eastern Beast” Brown.

Brown was a unique person in and out of the ring. Standing at only 5’4, Brown was a relentless, all action fighter who was in his opponent’s face for every second of every minute of every round. John Brown was born and raised in Atlantic City, NJ. Life growing up for John Brown was very rough as his brother was murdered and he was raised in 12 foster homes. Brown was a very angry person growing up, however he knew there was a beautiful world outside the dark, harsh world he had experienced and he was determined to find it. He would find it in boxing.

Brown would turn pro in 1989 and would go 18-4 over the next nine years, while mixing it up with top notch fighters such as Calvin Grove, Lamar Murphy and Jesus Chavez. Outside the ring, Brown would toughen himself up by living homeless on the streets while eating land crabs and cockroaches.

1998 would be a good year for Brown as he began to get national exposure and began his quest to a world title. He would face WBU Jr. Lightweight champion Angel Manfredy on 09/22/98 at Madison Square Garden. The bout was nationally televised on TNT’s short lived boxing series called “Title Night”. Although Brown would come up short and lose a unanimous decision, he was in Manfredy’s face all night and would frustrate him throughout the bout with his rough, inside fighting style. After the Manfredy fight, Brown was back in the gym and one month and two days later, he was back in the ring as he faced former world champion Gabriel Ruelas.

They met on 10/24/98 at the Trump Taj Mahal in Atlantic City, NJ and it was part of an HBO Boxing After Dark doubleheader. Brown was a late substitution for Jesse James Leija, who was originally scheduled to face Ruelas that night. Brown battered Ruelas all night long en route to an 8th round TKO. This performance would set up a world title shot against “Sugar” Shane Mosley.

They met on 04/17/99 at the Fantasy Spring’s Casino in Indio, CA for the IBF Lightweight championship. Brown was able to frustrate Mosley at times and Mosley had difficulty with Brown’s height and wasn’t able to land many clean shots. In the eighth round, Mosley was able to catch and rock Brown with hard combinations which forced the ringside doctor to stop the fight in between rounds.

Brown would bounce back from this loss with a convincing 10 round unanimous decison victory over Francisco Cruz just four months later. This would set up another world title shot against Diego Corrales. They met on 12/04/99 in Lincoln City, OR for the IBF Jr Lightweight championship.
Brown showed his toughness once again in a game effort. During the fight, Corrales landed a hard right hand that didn’t move Brown. Corrales then said to Brown, “man you are a beast”, and Brown then looked at him and growled. The end result would be a 12 round unanimous decision win for Corrales.

Brown would begin the new millenium by going 2-0 with a No Contest in his next three fights, which included a convincing 12 round decision over unbeaten Robbie Peden. This win would set up another crack at a world title as he faced Steve Forbes. They met on 12/03/00 in Miami, FL for the vacant IBF Jr Lightweight championship. Brown boxed well against the very skilled Steve Forbes and was getting the better of him in most of the exchanges. As the bout was heading into the later stages of the fight, it appeared that John Brown was on his was to finally winning a world title, however in the eighth round, Brown began bleeding badly from his left ear. Referee Jorge Alonso called time and called the ringside doctor over to inspect the ear. The doctor determined that the eardrum was punctured, forcing the fight to be stopped.

It was an eighth round TKO win for Steve Forbes, however John Brown was ahead on all three judge’s scorecards and was on his way to winning the fight. Nine months later, Brown and Forbes met again, however this time Forbes would win a 12 round unanimous decision. It was pretty much the end of the road for John Brown at the top.

He would not challenge for a world title again and would go 1-10-2 over the next 10 years. His record as a professional stands at 24-19 with five KO’s. He was a special breed of fighter who always showed up in top shape and ready to fight any time he stepped into the ring. He mixed it up with some of the best fighters of his era in their prime and he always gave them their money’s worth. It’s unfortunate he wasn’t able to get to that next level and get that title called “Champion”.
John Brown

Arturo Gatti Marathon Scheduled to Run on Fight Network

NEW YORK/TORONTO (Dec. 23, 2014) – Fight Network is going to celebrate Boxing Day in style this Friday (Dec. 26), airing six fights featuring the late, great Arturo “Thunder” Gatti (40-9, 31 KOs) from 9 a.m. ET — 9 p.m. ET.
Gatti was arguably boxing’s most popular, exciting fighter from his professional debut in 1991 until his retirement in 2007. He had an unearthly knack for sensational comebacks during a fight, as well as for enduring and dishing out tremendous pain.
The native of Italy lived in Montreal and Jersey City (NJ) during his colorful career until his untimely death in 2009. Known by boxing many fans as a “Human Highlight Film” in the ring, he was posthumously induted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame (IBHOF) in 2012.
Fight Network is a 24/7 television channel dedicated to complete coverage of combat sports. It airs programs focused on the entire scope of the combat sports genre, including live fights and up-to-the-minute news and analysis for boxing, mixed martial arts, kickboxing, professional wrestling, traditional martial arts, fight news, as well as fight-themed drama series, documentaries and feature films.
Below find the Arturo Gatti Marathon programming schedule for this Friday on Fight Network:
9:00 a.m. ET – Calvin Grove (49-8), May 4, 1997 at Caesars Hotel & Casino in Atlantic City, NJ
11:00 a.m. ET – Angel Manfredy (22-2-1), Jan. 17, 1998, Convention Hall, Atlantic City, NJ
1:00 p.m. ET – Oscar de la Hoya (32-2), Mar, 24, 2001, MGM Grand, Las Vegas, NV
3:00 p.m. ET – Terron Millett (26-2-1), Jan. 26, 2002, Madison Square Garden, New York, NY
5:00 p.m. – Micky Ward (37-11), May 18, 2002, Mohegan Sun Casino, Uncasville, CT
7:00 p.m. – Micky Ward (38-11), Nov. 23, 2002, Boardwalk Hall, Atlantic City, NJ
Gatti-Ward I was the consensus 2002 Fight of the Year, round nine the Round of the Year. The late Emanuel Steward, who was the HBO color commentator for Gatti-Ward I, called it (9th rd.) the mythical Round of the Century.

Forgotten Legends: Stevie Johnston

By: Steve Gallegos

Every so often in boxing, a champion has inherited the role of “Underdog”. It takes the heart and will of a champion to embrace and overcome the underdog role.That was the case time and time again with former two-time lightweight champion StevieLil But BadJohnston. A southpaw standing at 5’4 ½ inches, Johnston was a fan favorite amongst boxing fans in the late 90’s as he always came into the ring ready to fight while entering the ring to the classic R&B tune “Love TKO” by Teddy Pendergrass.

Steve Earl Johnston was born and raised in the “Mile High” city of Denver, CO and had and outstanding amateur record of 260-13. As an amateur, he fought Shane Mosley three times and won one of their meetings. It was reported that all three fights were close 3-2 decisions. He was an alternate on the 1992 U.S. Olympic Boxing team after losing to Vernon Forrest in the Box-offs. He turned pro in February of 1993 and won his first 20 bouts, 13 by KO. Two of those wins were KO victories of the hard hitting James Page and Sharmba Mitchell who would both go on to win world titles.

Johnston would earn his first world title shot against France’s Jean Baptiste Mendy. They met on 03/01/97 in Mendy’s hometown of Paris ,France. Johnston had to overcome Mendy’s hometown advantage as well as a five inch reach disadvantage. Johnston boxed well and controlled the pace through much of the bout. Johnston suffered a bad cut midway through the bout and had to deal with blood going into his eye. Despite this, Johnston finished the bout strong, earning a split decision and the WBC lightweight championship.

He would make his first title defense on the road as he faced the tough Japanese challenger Hiroyuki Sakamoto in Sakamoto’s home country of Japan. It was a tough battle in which Johnston would earn a split decision. His first defense in the U.S. Came against Mexican challenger Saul Duran in September of 1997. Johnston once again had to overcome a huge height and reach advantage as well as fighting through a badly swollen right eye. It was a bloody war in which Johnston dug deep and showed the heart of a champion, earning a unanimous decision. Many skeptics were beginning to criticize Johnston for taking too many shots throughout his bouts. Johnston shook off the criticism well and said it was part of the sport.

He began 1998 with an impressive unanimous decision win over the very tough George Scott on ABC’s wide world of sports. On 06/13/98 in El Paso, TX, Johnston would make his HBO debut as he took on Cesar Bazan of Mexico. The fight was the co-feature for Oscar De La Hoya’s welterweight title defense against Patrick Charpentier in front of huge crown of over 46,000 fans. As was the case for many of his bouts, Johnston had to deal with a huge height disadvantage of 7 ½ inches. It was a rough and tough fight fought mostly on the inside. Bazan, despite his height and reach advantages, elected to fight on the inside with a great deal of success. The end result was a close split decision win for Bazan.

Johnston didn’t allow his first loss to affect him negatively and he was back in the ring five months later and scored a sixth round TKO over Demetrio Ceballos. He would then face Cesar Bazan in rematch. They met on 02/27/99 in Miami, FL in an HBO Boxing After Dark main event. This time out, it was a much different and better fight. Johnston obviously went back to the drawing board and prepared himself well for this rematch. Johnston was able to overcome the height and reach disadvantages much better this time and landed very hard shots to the body and head while busting up both of Bazan’s eyes. When the final bell sounded, Johnston was awarded a split-decision victory. He was once again a world champion.

During this time, fellow unbeaten lightweight champion Shane Mosley was lobbying for a fight with Johnston; however the timeframe between Johnston’s rematch with Bazan and the April timeframe for Shane’s final fight at lightweight didn’t match up; therefore the fight was scrapped. With the Mosley fight now out of the picture, Johnston elected to face the very skilled and colorful Angel “El Diablo” Manfredy. They met on 08/14/99 at the Foxwood’s Resort in Mashantucket, CT.

Manfredy was confident going into this fight and felt that Johnston didn’t pose any threat to him. Stevie came out and overcame the odds once again. He rose to another level that night, outboxing Manfredy all night long and showed him that he was the boss. The end result was a convincing 12 round unanimous decision victory. He would end 1999 on the road, winning an impressive 12 round decision over Billy Schwer in Schwer’s hometown of London, England.

He would start the new millenium with a second round TKO victory over Julio Alvarez in his hometown of Denver, CO. He then faced relatively unknown Mexican challenger Jose Luis Castillo. They met on 06/17/00 in Bell Garden’s, CA. It was a rough and tough fight in which Castillo lured Johnston into fighting his fight. After 12 hard rounds, Castillo was awarded a majority decision which was Ring Magazine’s upset of the year.

They would meet again just three months later in Denver, CO. The fight was very close and tight in which neither fighter could gain the edge. When the final bell sounded, it was once again ruled a majority decision, this time for Johnston. After the decision was announced, it was discovered that judge Ken Morita had incorrectly added up his scorecard and he had the fight even; therefore the fight was ruled a draw and the WBC title was taken back from Johnston. It would be the last time he would challenge for a world title.

He would continue on and would win his next 5 bouts before losing an 11th round TKO against Juan Lazcano on 09/13/03 in a WBC title eliminator bout. Later that year, Johnston would face an even tougher battle outside the ring. He would suffer a very bad car accident in which he went through the windshield and ended up with over 100 stitches in his face. The accident would sideline Johnston for the next two years and would return to the ring in October of 2005; however he wasn’t the same fighter. He would go 7-3 from 2005-2008 in which he suffered 2 bad KO losses to Vivian Harris and Edner Cherry.

He retired in 2008 with a record of 42-6-1 with 18 KO’s. A humble and honest fighter who gave it his all everytime he stepped into the ring. He was a true underdog who was probably one of the most overlooked champions in history and no matter what obstacle he was faced with, he defied the odds time and time again. We definitely look forward to the day when he makes it to Canastota and is inducted into the Hall of Fame as he definitely deserves the honor.

Manfredy vs Johnston