Dashaun Johns vs. Danny Mitchell
MassMutual Center, Springfield, USA – 27 November 2021
Bronx native Dashaun Johns is a 31-year-old professional boxer and businessman, owner of a 4-1 record in the ring and his own gym with three locations in the tri-state area.
As he continues to balance two professions in addition to his family life, the super lightweight southpaw makes his long-awaited debut with CES Boxing next Saturday on November 27 when he battles Pittsburgh’s Danny Mitchell (5-4-1, 2 KOs) in a six-round bout at the MassMutual Center.
To fully understand how much Johns (4-1, 3 KOs) has grown, it’s important to understand where he came from.
Johns lived most of his childhood without his father and grew up in house with four siblings, some of whom were stepbrothers, so he was often forced to defend himself. Bullied in school, Johns turned to the streets and found himself running with gangs as a teenager. That lifestyle came to a grinding halt one night at the age of 15 when someone pointed a gun to his stomach as walked into a deli in Brooklyn.
“I really didn’t know if I’d make it out or not,” Johns said. “After that, I knew I had to get away and make a change.
“I got out just in time.”
Like many fighters before him, Johns decided the best way to channel his aggression was through boxing. He began his new journey at 17, which is late in comparison to some of the sport’s elite fighters, but still took his time, starting out by learning basic footwork before he even put on a pair of gloves.
“I didn’t even know how to throw a punch when I started,” Johns said.
That changed quickly. Under the guidance of coach Understanding Allah at the renowned John’s Boxing Gym in the South Bronx, Johns fine-tuned his craft and soon began a productive amateur career in which he won the Title National Championships in Arkansas in 2016 and advanced to the semifinals and finals of the New York Daily News Golden Gloves tournament in 2016 and 2017, respectively, losing to former Olympian and current 12-0 pro Richardson Hitchins in the 2016 semis.
With a deep amateur background behind him, Johns decided to turn pro in 2018. He sought the tutelage of a new coach, Kwame Asante, who helped him acclimate to the pro style in the ring, teaching him to sit down on his punches and generate more power with his legs. Since his debut in November of 2018, Johns is 4-1 with his lone loss coming to former two-time Junior Olympic champion and fellow New Yorker Alex Vargas, who was 4-0 at the time – a fight not a lot of novices would take with only two pro fights under their belt.
Johns, however, isn’t like most boxers; he understands the business side of the sport. He understands branding and marketing. He knows how to make a name for himself and generate interest in his career through all social media platforms.
Right around the time he turned pro, a friend in the fitness industry invited him to come try one of the fitness classes at his gym. Johns declined at first, but the friend – also a trainer – insisted he check it out because his gym was hiring trainers and he thought Johns would be a good fit.
“I gave it a shot and did five demo classes,” Johns said, “and I sucked at all five.”
Still, there was something there that motivated Johns to keep trying. He watched other trainers and noticed how much they helped their clients. That inspired him. He, too, wanted to help others, so he earned his certification and soon began working as a trainer at Belly and Body Fitness in Old Greenwich, CT, roughly 40 minutes from the Bronx.
“Now I love it,” Johns said. “The fight game and the fitness world go hand-in-hand. Fitness is beneficial to a lot of people. To be able to give back that way is a good feeling. I’m seeing people lose weight and get fit and have fun doing it. That’s why my slogan is, ‘Train with a smile.’”
As Johns’ popularity grew, he soon launched his own business, TooSweet Fitness, modeled after his boxing nickname, “Too Sweet.” With three locations in the tri-state area, Johns keeps busy outside the ring. He also offers clients the option of meeting at a local park or facility of their choice, and they can book group or individual sessions online.
Because Johns is always working with clients and, naturally, on top of his own fitness, he’s always ready to fight, but finding opponents as a 5-foot-9 southpaw with an extensive amateur background isn’t always easy. That’s why he signed with manager Jason Scalzo, who quickly began shopping his client to various promoters. Johns’ impressive resume and sharp, polished look caught the attention of CES Boxing president Jimmy Burchfield Sr., who immediately booked Johns on the November 27 show, anxious to see what the southpaw brings to the table.
“This is what it’s all about – a whole new set of eyes on me,” Johns said. “I told [CES] from the beginning, ‘You better get me now. If you don’t, it’s your loss!’”
Time will tell if Johns can deliver, but there’s no questioning his work ethic and drive to succeed. He gives back in a number of ways, even taking the time to speak to classrooms in various schools on the importance of choosing the right path in life. November 27 is his chance to show that his early success is only the beginning.
“In this sport, you only have so much time,” Johns said. “I lost a whole year to COVID, so, in 2022, I want to be super active. My goal is to fight every month – every week – if I can. I don’t want to take too much time off.”
Tickets are available online at CESFights.com. The card is headlined by a 10-round main event showdown between Worcester’s Kendrick Ball Jr. (17-1-1, 11 KOs) and Sacramento’s Mike Guy (12-7-1, 5 KOs) for the vacant WBC USNBC Super Middleweight Title.
In addition to the Ball-Guy headliner, iconic female featherweight Shelly Vincent (26-2, 1 KO) of New London, CT, makes her long-awaited return to the ring following a two-year layoff to face Chicago’s Shelly Barnett (5-5-2) in an eight-round special attraction, plus New Britain, CT, featherweight Nathan Martinez (7-1, 2 KOs) faces battle-tested Puerto Rican contender Jayron Santiago (7-8-1, 5 KOs) in a six-round bout.
Featherweight Joshua Orta (7-0, 3 KOs), born and raised in Springfield, returns to his hometown following a successful appearance in August to face Lester Brown Jr. (4-3-3, 1 KO) of the Bahamas in a six-round bout, and fellow Springfield native Isaiah Cruz (1-0), competing in the super featherweight division, takes on Kingstown, NY, native Darren Mima, a former MMA world-title challenger making his boxing debut, in a four-round bout. Also from Springfield, unbeaten super welterweight Jalen Renaud (6-0, 2 KOs) battles Jurmain McDonald (5-4, 2 KOs) of Jefferson City, MO. Female welterweight Stevie Jane Coleman (1-1) of Columbia, CT, looks to build off her first pro win when she battles Nevada’s LeAnn O’Malley (1-0) in a four-round bout.
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