Tuesday, June 7, 2016

On This Day: Frank Johnson: The Golden Boy of British Boxing

 By Peter Silkov

Frank ’Golden Boy’ Johnson, was a talented boxer-puncher, who during the early 1950s was one of Britain’s most popular fighters.  Born on November 27, 1928, in Manchester, Lancashire, Johnson turned professional in 1946, at the age of 18-years-old.  Johnson began his career as a featherweight, but soon moved up to lightweight and steadily worked his way up the rankings. He won 32 of his first 33 contests, until on July 25, 1952, in his 34th fight, Johnson won the British lightweight championship, by out-pointing Tommy McGovern over 15 rounds.  Six months later, Johnson added the Commonwealth title to his collection, when he traveled to Australia, and stopped Frank Flannery in 10 rounds.

At this point, Johnson was close to gaining a shot at the World lightweight title, but his world title hopes were dashed and his career suddenly veered off the rails. In his next fight after beating Flannery, five months later, Johnson was stripped of his British Lightweight title after he failed to make the weight for a defence against Joe Lucy.  The fight went ahead as a non-title fight and Johnson was out-pointed by Lucy, after giving a listless display.

Two months after this set back, Johnson suffered another blow when he lost his Commonwealth title to Pat Ford, when he was out-pointed over 15 rounds.  Only two months later, on  October 9, 1953, Johnson fought Ford again, in an effort to regain the Commonwealth title, but was defeated again, this time when he was knocked out in the 13th round.

However, Johnson came back with 4 victories in a row, and on April 26, 1955, he regained the British Lightweight title when he out-pointed Joe Lucy over 15 rounds.

Johnson then suffered another loss of form and lost 4 of his next 5 fights, including a rematch to Lucy on April 13, 1956, when he lost his British Lightweight title back to Lucy after being stopped in 8 rounds.

Johnson moved up to the welterweight division after this defeat, and won 4 bouts in a row, before challenging Peter Waterman for the British Welterweight title on December 17, 1956, but after a stirring effort, was stopped in the 10th round.

This proved to be Johnson’s final title fight, and he had just three more contests, of which he won one.  In his last fight on May 21, 1957, against Boswell St Louis, Johnson retired after the 5th round with a damaged hand.  His final record was 47(26koes)-11.

Frank Johnson died on June 7, 1970, aged only 41.

Copyright © 2016 The Boxing Glove, Inc. Peter Silkov Art. All Rights Reserved. Peter Silkov contributes to www.theboxingglove.com

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