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Callum Johnson keeps his feet on the ground despite turning professional

By This is Lincolnshire  |  Posted: November 02, 2010

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Callum Johnson

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CALLUM Johnson might have won Commonwealth gold and signed with one of the world's top promoters, but he's still puzzled about all the "fuss" surrounding him.

The 25-year-old abandoned hopes of winning Olympic Games gold at the weekend when he penned a three-year professional deal with Frank Warren, leaving the amateur ranks behind.

In doing so, Johnson joins an elite stable of boxers under Warren's tutelage including Olympian James DeGale and world title challengers Nathan Cleverly and Derek Chisora.

Johnson also becomes the first fighter managed by one of Warren's most famous charges, "Prince" Naseem Hamed.

The move from local hero to emerging national star might have taken others by surprise, but the straight-talking Johnson remains calm.

Although his next fight is due to take place on the undercard of a world title fight at Glasgow's Braehead Arena on December 4, Johnson, who won gold for Scotland in Delhi, will not alter his training regime.

"I'll still work with my dad, Paul, and train at Terry Allen Unique ABC, in Lincoln," says Johnson.

"To be honest, I can't see what all the fuss is about. I've already had a lot of good experience in the amateur game and I've fought 40 times in international contests.

"I don't think I would have been ready two or three years ago but I'm ready now.

"Anything is possible because I believe in my ability and with the right guidance I can go to the top.

"I do firmly believe I'll be a better professional than amateur. With longer rounds and longer fights I get stronger and more powerful and with 12-round bouts it will be more difficult for my opponent to keep up with me."

Warren has a good track record in developing stars, helping to guide the career paths of Ricky Hatton and Joe Calzaghe in the past – although both later split with the promoter.

However, he has proved more than capable in picking the right fight at the right time for his boxers, a factor which played heavily into Johnson's decision.

"I'm aware it will be a slow process (getting to the top) but Frank Warren won't rush me," says Johnson.

"I had a chat with him and he seems a nice guy. In the back of my mind I think I knew I wanted to become a professional – although I switched back and forth about three or four times over the last few weeks – but once I thought about it, I wanted to go with Frank as he's one of the best (promoters) in the world.

"I'm going to have a minimum of six fights in the first year of my contract.

"Hopefully I'll be fighting in Glasgow on December 4 and then we'll take it from there."

If the link-up with Warren will not cover Johnson in a sprinkling of boxing stardust, his new manager certainly well.

"Prince" Naseem Hamed was on his way to becoming the greatest British boxer ever when Marco Antonio Barrera inflicted his first – and only – defeat in 2001.

Despite a comeback in 2002 the magic was gone and Hamed stepped away from the ring for good.

His appearances at boxing events have since been sporadic – not helped by time spent in jail for dangerous driving – but the Sheffield star's thirst for the sport appears to have been rekindled by Johnson.

"I've met him a couple of times and away from the cameras and the press he's just a normal guy," said Johnson. "What you see on TV is the showman coming out.

"It's exciting to be working with him. He feels as though he wants to come out of retirement and I'm very happy he's chosen to do it as my manager."

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