Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Johnson: `I Just Couldn't Put Him Away'

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Johnson: `I Just Couldn't Put Him Away'

Article excerpt

No alibis. No whining, moaning, griping or grousing.

If anyone says Arthur Johnson got jobbed in his title fight Sunday in Thailand against a home-country hero, it won't be Arthur Johnson.

All three judges said Pichit Sithbangprachan retained his International Boxing Federation flyweight title. A spillover crowd of 65,000 fans watched the battle in the national soccer stadium in Sura Thani, a nine-hour train ride from Bangkok.

Yet it was Pichit (21-0) who was cut above an eye and hurt in three other rounds by Johnson, the 112-pound challenger from East St. Louis.

Arriving home Wednesday night after a 30-hour flight, Johnson (8-1) was sticking to the high road.

"So many times you hear stories of fighters saying, `Oh, I was robbed!' " he said. "I hope I'm a notch above that. We didn't expect to come out of there with a decision. You wish justice would prevail, but we knew going in what we had to do."

Manager Angelo Dundee, who also trained Muhammad Ali and Sugar Ray Leonard, and St. Louisan Jim Oldenburg, Johnson's local trainer, stressed between rounds that he needed at least a knockdown to win. "Again, I don't want to come off as a complainer," Johnson said, "but it was a very big disappointment. It was worse than if you just get beat or just get blasted."

It was the winner who resembled a demolition site.

"He was pretty much busted up," Johnson said. "He was a mess." Johnson was unhurt.

The crowd resembled nothing he had seen in his 27 years. "This was a big event," said Johnson, who was trailed by two dozen reporters and photographers during his week in Thailand. "There were were so many people at the fight, it just looked like ants. They would be roaring when he hit me."

Was that intimidating? "To be honest," Johnson said, "they really didn't have much to cheer about. I started off slow in the first two rounds, just getting my rhythm. …

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