The American dream will finally come true for Callum Johnson this weekend as he fights in the USA for the first time.
As a kid the Boston boxer and friends would chuck their jumpers onto the floor as makeshift corners and pretend they were fighting for world titles in the States, looking forward to those nights when they could stay up into the night to watch British stars battle for belts across the pond.
It’s been close-but-not-quite for Johnson in the past, but on Saturday night that childhood fantasy will become a reality at Chicago’s Wintrust Arena as he looks to rob Artur Beterbiev of his IBF light heavyweight belt.
He was due to fight at Oakland’s Oracle Arena in 2015 on the undercard of Gallagher’s Gym stablemate Paul Smith’s fight with Andre Ward, but an opponent failed to show.
Apart from that night, training camps in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, including working with former Manny Pacquiao coach Freddie Roach at the famous Wildcard Gym, has been as close as he has come to fighting in the US.
However, Johnson did get an up-close taste of a big stateside fight in July as her cornered for Liam Smith in his WBO light middleweight title fight against Mexican Jaime Munguia in Vegas.
And he believes the experience will be beneficial for him this weekend.
“It was good, I really enjoyed it even though we didn’t get the result Liam wanted,” he said. “But it was a great experience to be part of the team and it definitely helped me even if I wasn’t playing.
“I think I’d have been less nervous walking into the ring if I’d been fighting.
“It was the first time I’ve cornered, and it’s a shame he didn’t get the decision.”