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17 NOVEMBER 2018

Where am I? Home Columns Paul Upham

Danny Green faces Kirino Garcia on Mundine double-header

Danny Green left, with trainer Ismael Salas
Danny Green left, with trainer Ismael Salas

By Paul Upham: Australian super middleweight contender Danny Green announced at a press conference in Sydney on Tuesday that he would be facing Mexican light heavyweight champion Kirino Garcia on December 11 at the Challenge Stadium in Perth. "We checked around and it was kind of tough getting an opponent," explained Green. "But we have picked one tough hombre."

36 year-old Garcia 37-26-3 (27) from Ciudad Juarez in Mexico has one of the more amazing life stories in boxing. He lost his first eighteen career fights, taking bouts at short notice for any sort of pay day with no training just to survive on the streets, only to work his way up the ranks to becoming a very credible boxer and one who eventually headlined a number of promotions in the USA.

"His life story is a very interesting one," said Green 20-2 (19). "He has got a lot of battle scars and most of those have probably come from outside the boxing ring. He is an extremely tough and durable guy and he has beaten five world champions. He has been a main event fighter in the USA numerous times and I am looking forward to fighting a very, very tough guy who doesn't take a backward step. I have chosen a guy who is going to give me a good test. He is definitely not an easy fight. He can punch and he has knocked out twenty-seven people."

The December 11 card will also feature Green's arch-rival Anthony "The Man" Mundine in a co-main event as an entrée to their proposed clash in early 2006. Green could have easily picked an easier opponent to guarantee himself victory, but elected to find someone a little tougher that would appeal to his fans.

"We'll leave that to Mundine," he replied with a smile. "This is more of a test and a challenge. It is only going to make me a better fighter. We don't want some guy who is going to be a pushover and just fall over when I hit him. I want someone who is going to come out to Australia and give us a serious test."

Mundine has yet to announce who his opponent will be for December 11 and Green is not the least bit interested. "I wouldn't have a clue. That's not my concern," he replied.

The bottom line is that for the long awaited Green vs. Mundine clash to go ahead in 2006, both men need to win on December 11.

"There is a rough date that has been spoken about between the camps," said Green. "We are looking at late February, March or April next year. No date has been finalised. But I'm not looking forward to the Mundine fight. This is a tune-up fight for me after having a pretty serious back injury. The harder the opponent the more switched on and focused I am going to be in the preparation. Hopefully that means a better performance on the night."

32 year-old Green had been forced to pull out of an October 23 fight with American Scott Pemberton because of two broken bones in his back. He says he has been given a clean bill of health.

"The back feels good and I have had all the right treatment done," he said. "I was pretty dedicated and disciplined with the rehabilitation for my back injury. I took all the necessary precautions, correct diet and getting treatment. Basically, rest and recuperation was the only thing that was the doctor and the specialist's orders. It was pretty frustrating sitting on the couch for six weeks, but the upshot of that was having my daughter Chloe use me as a pillow and a cushion and it gave me a chance to study my future opponents."

The Green-Garcia fight will be fought at a catchweight between 168 and 175lbs.

"I haven't chosen Garcia for any other reason than he is a tough guy with a lot of experience who comes to fight," said Green. "He is not similar to Anthony Mundine. I am not focused on Anthony Mundine at all for this fight. Garcia is not afraid to come forward and let them go and he is one of those typically tough Mexicans. Mexico doesn't breed anything other than hard fighters."

Green sat at the press conference side by side with trainer Ismael Salas, who is training Green for the second time after the Australian had parted ways with former trainer Jeff Fenech earlier this year. The Thailand based Cuban is the trainer of five professional world champions and the original trainer of Joel Casamayor and Felix Savon in the Cuban national team.

"Salas and I have been working very hard in the gym with my assistant coach David Birchell," said Green. "Each trainer has their strengths and their weaknesses. With Salas, he brings a wealth of experience in world championship fights to the table. He has had a lot of experience with big name fighters. I'm very happy and very satisfied with the way Salas trains me. We work together as a team and we talk about why we are doing these things. We are a team unit. We have devised a plan on how to beat this guy and I am looking forward to the challenge ahead."

"We are looking to re-adjust Danny's style," explained Salas. "I always respected the job Jeff (Fenech) did in the past with him and I took him as he is. We are re-adjusting things and working with the Parramatta conditioning team. We have very nice team work and we are preparing in a very professional way to get the best from him. To be a hard puncher and to be a fighter, you have to get other things. You have to build on the fitness and we need to teach some ringcraft. He has the abilities within. We only need to bring him to do it a better way."

Not that the fans are no longer going to see the aggressive, hard punching 'Green Machine' in the ring anymore.

"I am not trying to turn into a Roy Jones or Floyd Mayweather. That's not me," said Green. "My strength is I am a tall, strong puncher from a distance. I don't want to get too carried away with trying to be flashy because it is just not my style. I think I forget about boxing and tried to just bore everybody down. To run in and try to knock everyone out just doesn't work that way. I'm trying to be a little bit more educated in my style."

Getting away from the blood and guts routine, training smarter and making sure he recovers sufficiently from each session is now paramount.

"We are trying to prolong my career and to fight smarter," said Green. "It comes down to quality of training, not the quantity. Hopefully it will bring a bit of youth back to my style. I don't want to be this old warhorse. I want to be a guy who is competitive and I feel I am competitive with any super middleweight in the world if I am prepared right on the night. A couple of years ago my body was starting to break down because I wasn't paying attention to treatment and recovery as much as I should have been."

Green is noticing the differences.

"We are all surprised," he said, "that some of the punches are going past me instead of landing flush on my chin or smack between the eyes. It is a refreshing change. I'm starting to become a little bit wiser in my old age at 32."

All of Green's sparring will be done in Sydney before he heads to Perth one week before the fight. 29 year-old American Ruben Williams 27-2 (16) has been brought over as Green's main sparring partner for this fight.

"He is going to be very good sparring," said Green. "He is a very impressive fighter who is going to give me a lot of trouble with his speed, his evasiveness and his jab."

With the Challenge Stadium in Perth sold out within ten days of tickets going on sale, a compactly crowd will be on hand when Green and Mundine fight on the same card together for the first time.

"That shows the interest level and I am pretty lucky to have such a crazy fan base in Perth. They are very, very loyal fans," said Green.

Though, it is unclear at this stage who of Green and Mundine will fight as the main event last on the night. It is one detail that is not specified in the extensive Green-Mundine fight contract that was hammered out by Green's promoter Justin Manolikus from Green Machine Promotions and Mundine's manager Khoder Nasser.

"We haven't worked that out yet," said Green. "We all know Anthony is the main event wherever he goes. He could turn up to the AFL Grand Final to toss the coin and still be the main event. I'm not really fussed. I don't need to feed my ego like Anthony does. It's my home town and it's my backyard. I guess the fans deserve to see the guy who they have followed in their home town in the main event. Basically, Anthony Mundine is the sideshow. There might be a fight before the fight to see who goes out first. But at the end of the day, my job as a professional fighter is to worry about my opponent inside the ring, not to be distracted by a circus and a clown outside the ring."

30 year-old Mundine 24-3 (19) is a former WBA world champion while Green held for a period of time the WBC Interim world title. The news that the two arch rivals will finally meet in the ring is a pleasant surprise for all Australian boxing fans who have been watching their feud explode over the last three years. The fight will be arguably one the biggest ever in Australian boxing history.

While the fight is expected to be an official world title eliminator for one or more of the major sanctioning bodies, Green finds it hard to compare the importance of beating Mundine compared to chasing the elusive world title belt.

"It's hard to say," he said. "I won't know until the fights actually happen. Australia wide, there is so much hype and so much exposure surrounding the fight with myself and Choc. There is a lot riding on it. Personally, it is bragging rights that is going to go down in history. That's a pretty big thing. I'm not just going in there to earn a pay day. I'm going in there to win the fight. There is a lot riding on the fight, so I wouldn't know what is bigger. The fight with Mundine is something that excites me and something that I am looking forward to. But I have got to remain grounded, keep quiet and focus on the job at hand."

Paul Upham
Contributing Editor

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