This is the week that many Beltway Boxing Fans have been waiting on for a long time! This is the week that former three-time world champion and Beltway Boxing Legend Mark "Too Sharp" Johnson takes his rightful place among the legends in the International Boxing Hall of Fame.
There are many great "Too Sharp" moments, including the night Johnson won the IBF Flyweight title on May 4, 1996 in Anaheim, CA when he knocked out Francisco Tejedor in the first round. The image of Tejedor vainly trying to get back up after being knockdown and weeping in despair afterwards is one of the most lasting images I've ever seen.
For this tribute, I want to focus on another classic moment -- one that took place in DC on February 22, 1998. Johnson was making his fifth defense of his title in front of a packed house at the DC Armory and a nationally televised ESPN2 audience. Johnson faced a truly legitimate contender in Arthur "Flash" Johnson, who gave Johnny Tapia fits in losing a 12-round split decision in 1995.
I've recounted the story of how Mark Johnson gave up a substantial amount of money to have the bout in DC and how he had it in his contract that local ring announcer Henry "Discombobulating" Jones would work the event. By the way, the passage of time has led to two situations in the present. One of course, the passing of Johnny Tapia. The other is the post-fight interview. Coincidentally, Johnson and the man conducting the interview -- Al Bernstein -- are in the same class of inductees that will go into the Hall of Fame on Sunday. Another coincidence was the referee for the bout was Joe Cooper, who would of course, be the third man for Lamont Peterson and Amir Khan.
What resulted was truly one of the landmark events in Beltway Boxing History. Let's relive that moment here: