TUREANO ‘Reno’ Johnson was on the verge of setting himself up for one of the greatest accomplishments in Bahamian boxing history. But that was thwarted by Mexican Jaime Munguia at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California, on Saturday night.
The two clashed for the World Boxing Organisation’s Inter-Continental middleweight title, but the fight was stopped at the end of the sixth round after Johnson suffered a cut on his lip that required surgery immediately after the fight.
“My team and I had it checked right away and we went to the hospital and got it stitched right away by a surgeon,” Johnson told The Tribune. “I can’t complain.”
“The doctors in California did a terrific job and so I can’t complain about it. I am really appreciative of the care that they gave me at that time.”
Following the misfortunes of Saturday night, Johnson and his wife Natania left California on Sunday for Phoenix, Arizona, en route to New York for a few days rest and recuperation.
From there, they will head to Florida where they will spend some time before he gets back into the ring to resume his career. He also hopes to make a trip home for a short break before he gets back into the ring.
At age 36, Johnson’s bid to become only the second Bahamian to win a world title has been delayed. But having suffered just his third defeat against 21 victories and a draw over a 10-year span as a professional, it has not detoured the spirits of the former Olympic amateur boxer.
“It’s a loss. It’s a loss on my record and it’s a loss inside my spirit, but being resilient, I will find a way to get back up there,” Johnson said. “We are right now working hard to find a way to get another opportunity.
“Being ahead on the card, only to have the fight stopped because of a cut, which does take place in boxing, I’ve gotten the respect of my opponent, my peers and my fans and we all know that it could have gone the way had it gone the distance. So I do not feel any way discouraged from my venture of becoming a world champion. I’m still here. I’m still going after that world title opportunity. I’m still going after the world title.”
Had he won the fight, Johnson would have been assured the opportunity to fight for the prestigious world title, but he said he and his team were preparing to make some adjustments to his aggressive style in the fight before the vicious uppercut in the sixth round from Munguia denied him.
For Johnson, he’s accustomed to the setbacks and disappointments since he began his long and tedious road in the sport of boxing under the tutelage of Ray Minus Sr and his son Renaldo ‘the Terminator’ Minus in the now defunct Sunshine Park Golden Eagles Boxing Club.
At the age of seven while attending Carmichael Primary School, Johnson began the journey that spun about 16 years where he ascended to the highest level of sports, representing the country at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.
“I made it to the quarter-finals, winning over my competitors from Grenada (Rolande Moses) and Ukraine (Olexan Stretskyy) before losing to the hometown boy (Hanati Silamu) from China,” Johnson pointed out.
“The year before that, I was suspended by the Amateur Boxing Association of the Bahamas after they claimed that I was disrespectful to coach Stevie Larrimore, which never took place. There was an article that said I should leave boxing infinitely and that broke my heart, prompting me to turn professional.”
Overcoming the ordeal, Johnson decided to stick around the amateur ranks and he came back and made it to the Olympics.
“I accomplished my goals as an amateur fighter. I wanted to go to the Olympics,” said Johnson about his stellar amateur ranks. “I had a great run, setting the bar as the most accomplished and decorated amateur boxer in the history of the Bahamas.”
That was the impetus to his departure from the amateur to the pro ranks where he made his latter debut in 2010, March 5 to be exact, in the middleweight division at the Center Stage in Atlanta, Georgia where he won a technical knockout over American Cleoney Fuqua.
Over the next four years, Johnson cruised to an impressive 14-win streak before he suffered his first defeat at the hands of American Curtis Stevens at the Liacouras Center in Philadelphia.
In his customary ‘never give up attitude,’ Johnson bounced back, going on another six-win streak before he got stopped again, this time by Ukraine’s Sergiy Derevyanchenko on August 5, 2017 at the Buffalo Run Casino in Miami.
After enduring an injury, Johnson returned to the ring in 2019 and fought to a draw against Mexican Fernando Castaneda on February 9 at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio.
He also faced Ireland’s Jason Quigley on July 18 at the same venue where he captured the NABA middleweight title, his third in his career. He secured the World Boxing Council’s Continental Americas title over American Mike Gavronski on July 11, 2014 at the Little Creek Casino Resort in Shelton and the WBC’s Silver and World Boxing Association’s International Middle titles on January 9, 2015 over Colombian Alex Theran at Madison Square Gardens in New York.
Inactive since his triumph over Quigley, Johnson got the chance of his lifetime on Saturday night, only to be derailed once again by a vicious uppercut from Munguia that delayed his dreams of following the late Everette ‘Elisha Obed’ Ferguson, who captured the Bahamas’ first world title with his triumph over Brazil’s Miguel de Oliveira for the WBC super welterweight title in Paris, France on November 13, 1975 before he lost it to Eckhard Dagge of Germany in Deutschlandhalle, Charlottenburg, a year later on June 18, 1976.
Former bantamweight fighter Quincy ‘Thrill-A-Minute’ Pratt, a long-time friend of Johnson, said the last time he remembered a Bahamian taking on a Mexican was his arch-rival and former bantamweight and lightweight champion Ray Minus Jr in the past 25 years.
“I tip my hat off to Reno because in the sixth round, he told the doctor to give him one more round. What a heart,” Pratt reflected. “The fight was about even at that time. He was fighting a world champion, who gave up his title and moved up in weight. Reno got cut and was still on his feet.”
Despite the plug being pulled on the fight at the start of the seventh round because it appeared that the cut was too severe for him to continue, Johnson said he’s proud of his achievements so far.
“I think I did a stellar job. I gave it everything I had,” insisted Johnson, who out-punched his opponent 445-416 up to the stoppage of the fight. “It’s not a job done yet. I’m still not done yet.”
It was the culmination of a rise up the ladder for Johnson, who on October 17, 2015, earned his highest international ranking as the number one contender with his victory over Englishman Eamonn O’Kane at Madison Square Gardens.
That loss to Stevens, according to Johnson, was logged on his résumé as the lowest point so far in his career because he felt he was winning the fight before it was abruptly stopped.
As he relishes this latest defeat even when he felt that he had the intestinal fortitude to go on, Johnson said contrary to some critics who claim that he should hang up his gloves, he’s not done yet.
“Boxing is a full contact sport and it’s not something that you can continue doing for a very long time to too long of a time,” he pointed out. “I would give myself three more years in professional boxing.
“Then after that, I would love to see myself in an executive role in amateur boxing in the country and perhaps later on as a promoter.”
Citing his mother Elkanna, and his father, former boxer George Johnson, as his biggest supporters, Johnson said he has to give a lot of credit to Minus Sr, Minus Jr, Renaldo Minus and Quincy Pratt for the role they all played in his development over the years.
The boy from Pinewood Gardens, who came out of his humble beginnings at Carmichael Primary to SC McPherson Junior High to CV Bethel Secondary High Schools and now husband and father, is not content with calling it quits on his boxing career after another major setback.
He publicly thanked KS Moses, Home Fabrics, Aquapure and Transformation Landscape Development for supporting him in the fight.