Cherneka Johnson on amateur pedigree, professional transition

HER youthful exterior might not show it, but Cherneka Johnson knows her way around a boxing ring.

The New Zealand-born and Brisbane-based pugilist has left behind a distinguished amateur career, which included appearances at four world championships representing Australia, to pursue a world title in the paid ranks.

We caught up with Johnson – who is affectionately known as ‘Neekz’ – ahead of her second professional bout.

“I’ve had over sixty fights as an amateur and one fight as a professional so far,” said Johnson in an interview with Aus-Boxing. “I won that fight by knockout in the second round but I still feel like I have so much to learn.”

“I moved to Australia from New Zealand when I was twelve. When I began high school I was looking to get fit so I joined the local YMCA and began classes. That was where I met Phil Holiday who was running the boxing classes,”

“He invited me to come train with him down at his boxing gym and ever since then I’ve loved boxing,”

“I represented Australia at four world championships and it has taken me to places such a Turkey, China and Bulgaria. I also went to train for the Olympic trials at flyweight after winning the Queensland trials,”

“I’ve travelled the world with boxing and now it’s just my life pretty much.”

“My trainer keeps telling me I need to get a lot stronger and to be able to hurt my opponent. In the amateurs, I felt it was more about scoring points and getting the win. So I need to be stronger and more aggressive.”

Johnson (1-0, 1 KO) began her journey as a professional in April with an impressive showing against debutant Napaporn Ruengsuwan. Johnson hopes to carry the momentum from her debut into Saturday night’s fight.

Her scheduled four-round featherweight bout against Thai import Atitaya Saisin will be one of eight fights presented by emerging promotional outfit Hosking Promotions at the Bendigo Stadium in regional Victoria.

Johnson hopes that a win will lead to at least two more appearances to round out a busy debut year.

“I’m really glad I made the transition to professionals and joined Lynden and his team at Hosking Promotions,” she added. “We hope to have four fights by the end of the year. As an amateur I wasn’t getting four fights in a year.”

“Lynden arranged for me to go with his team to Las Vegas and it was incredible. Going to see a big fight like Canelo-Khan just showed me how crazy they go for boxing over there. It was nothing like I have ever seen before,”

For Johnson, Saturday night is about continuing her development as she looks to become more comfortable in her own skin as she progresses as a professional. Furthermore, she is excited at the prospect of fighting in Bendigo.

“I have been to Bendigo to watch Shannon O’Connell fight there earlier in the year,” she concluded. “It’s a great stadium – and I get my chance to fight there now – I’m really excited and I’m looking forward to it.”

“I want to show people what I can do. I’m feeling confident, feeling strong and ready to go.”

Photo: Hosking Promotions



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