ANAHEIM — Arthur Johnson isn't sure who he's fighting Monday night at the Pond, but he knows the implications--a guaranteed shot at the International Boxing Federation's featherweight title--and that's enough for him.
"I'm expecting myself to really put out and cut loose," said Johnson, who will fight Ilido Julio of Turbo, Colombia, in the 12-round main event. "This is Arthur Johnson's time."
The winner will become the IBF's No. 1 challenger and will get a mandatory title fight against the organization's 112-pound champion Mark "Too Sharp" Johnson. The hardest part for Johnson is that he's facing a mystery man in Julio.
"We don't have any tape on this guy," Johnson's manager, Jim Oldenburg said. "His style is unknown to us."
What they do know is Julio can punch. In his 16 fights, he is 15-0-1 with 15 knockouts. Johnson is 16-3 with nine knockouts.
"His record tells us he likes to bang," said Johnson, who grew up in St. Louis and is nicknamed Flash. "I sparred with guys bigger than me and hit harder than me. I've prepared myself as well as I can. I think I'll have his style figured out in the first 10 to 30 seconds of the fight anyway."
Julio, rated fifth by the IBF, has never fought in this country and his last fight resulted in a first-round knockout victory Gualberto Fontalvo on June 7 in Santa Marta, Colombia. He was late in coming to Southern California and was not at the Thursday pre-fight press conference.
"He's 15-0, but this is his first real pro fight," Johnson said.
Johnson, ranked ninth by the IBF, is managed by legendary trainer Angelo Dundee. He has fought twice for world titles and has lost both fights. In 1994, he lost a split decision to hometown-favorite Phichit Sithbangprachan in Bangkok, Thailand, for the IBF crown. In 1995, he lost a majority decision to Johnny Tapia in the WBO champion Tapia's hometown of Albuquerque.
But the way Johnson was talking, in the third person, it didn't sound as though he was ready to lose another close decision.
"I'm expecting a flat-out war," Johnson, 31, said. "It took Flash a little time to realize he has to give himself up wholly to win a fight."
In the 10-round, semi-main event, Jose Badillo (20-1, 15 knockouts) of Puerto Rico faces Javier Leon (48-14-2, 28 knockouts) of Michoacan, Mexico. The undercard begins at 7:15 p.m., the main event starts at 9.