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15 NOVEMBER 2018

Where am I? Home Columns Paul Upham

Danny Green only thinking of Garcia as the shadow of Mundine looms large

Danny "Green Machine" Green
Danny "Green Machine" Green

By Paul Upham: The change is noticeable as soon as you walk into the modern refurbished boxing gymnasium at the Glebe PCYC in the inner western suburbs of Sydney. Danny Green looks different and it is not just the new tattoo he is ready to unveil during his next boxing match this weekend. In the past as he neared a fight he would look sickly white and drained. But this time he looks strong and healthy. His body shape is noticeably different. "I showed Craig Catterick (fitness trainer) a couple of photos from my early fights and he was shocked at the difference," said Green. "He was under the impression that I had really changed. My strength has definitely increased."

This new training routine is obviously suiting Green as he nears the most important fights of his career.

"Danny is a lot training smarter," says assistant trainer David Birchell. "He has matured and has become a man. He is 32 now and you can't train like you did when you were 18."

Working with Craig Catterick and Hayden Knowles, fitness trainers for the National Rugby League Parramatta Eels team, has seen the "Green Machine" completely change his training routine.

"They are unbelievable," said Birchell. "They knew nothing about boxing. They asked Salas (Green's trainer), Danny and myself what we though his strengths and weaknesses were and they devised a whole new program for him. They did a lot of research and looked at what other trainers like the Germans do."

Green 20-2 (19) will face Mexican light heavyweight champion Kirino Garcia this Sunday afternoon local time at the Challenge Stadium in Perth. The card will also feature Green's arch-rival Anthony "The Man" Mundine 24-3 (19), the former WBA world champion, up against Samoan Rico Chong Nee in a co-main event as an entree to the Australian rivals proposed clash in early 2006. Green and Garcia will fight over the super middleweight limit at 172lbs.

"I'm on weight and cruising," said Green . "I have done it very smart. My diet is so much better. The Musashi supplements that Craig and Hayden have put me on have really made a difference. I have been watching what I eat. I have been eating plenty of food, but good food. Eating the right amount at the right times and the right food."

A noted over trainer at times, Green has learnt that the best way to prepare is by not grinding yourself into the ground relentlessly.

"I read Kostya's new book too and he is right, you don't have to kill yourself," he said. "It is all about discipline. I have been dieting for ten weeks. No lollies and I am normally a Redskin king."

How much does Green like his sweets? Nader Hamdan tells a story of the Green Machine's early days at Team Fenech where he would offer Redskin lollies around to the other boxers during their road runs.

"What I am doing now is really an educated way of training," he explains. "I am training much harder than I have ever done before and I feel great. I jump out of bed and I am ready to train. Before I would really feel sore. Getting a lot of massage and more recovery is important. I am getting a lot more treatment, a lot more supplementation and a lot more recuperation time."

The sweat drips off Green as he paces around the gym. Back to the heavy bag and Ismael Salas stands alongside Green and claps his hands fast as the 2000 Olympian works away, beginning at the sound of the timing bell. Furious hooks jolt the red bag as co-trainer David Birchell pounds away from the opposite side. For two minutes they punch the bag non-stop. There is a glint of fury in the Cuban's eyes as he urges Green to punch faster. He joins in briefly with the two boxers and flurries with his own hooks which look as technically correct as any ever thrown in the gym. Salas wants more body-shot combinations and Green grunts as he lets his hands go as fast as he can. Intensity is the goal during this work out.

Green looks much leaner than ever before. Strong with tanned skin and greater cut in his muscles. The striations in his back standing out as clearly as any of his tattoos. There is also no evidence of any injuries or the broken bones in his back which forced the cancellation of his October 23 fight with American Scott Pemberton.

"Danny is enjoying training and Salas' boxing knowledge is unbelievable," smiles Birchell.

Trainer Ismael Salas is working with 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 champions Joel Casamayor and Felix Savon in the Cuban national team.

"We have a system for Danny that we will work on over the next one to two years," he explains. "The first time when he fought (James) Crawford, we had some work to do with a target. For this fight, we have a new target. We are looking to pass through this next fight with Garcia and then we will get to Mundine. It is a three step program. After that, we then take the next step to the world title fight."

Salas acknowledges that working on Green's speed around the ring has been one of his important tasks.

"Yes, of course," he replied. "Danny in some ways had a lack of speed. We have been working through his fitness to create more optimum strength and speed in his muscles and then I have to convert this to his boxing skills."

Can Green become super middleweight world champion in 2006?

"Yes, this is why I am here," replies Salas. "He is No.1 in his determination. He is always focused. The last fight we worked for eight weeks and this time we have done seven weeks. He tries to take in what I teach him. He listens. I will get the best from him and he is helping me."

After his first fight with Markus Beyer in August 2003 and his stoppage win over Eric Lucas to win the WBC Interim champion title in December 2003, Green has not progressed as quickly as many had expected. His rematch loss to Beyer in March earlier this year was a disappointing result when his fans had expected him to become WBC world champion.

"I can say that I am starting to improve as an overall boxer," said Green. "As a professional starting to mature and I am really enjoying it. I am loving boxing again. Before, I was feeling a bit stale. Now, I feel refreshed."

The team around Green lets him concentrate just on boxing. With Salas, Birchell, Catterick and Knowles looking after his training and close friend Justin Manolikos running Green Machine Promotions back in Perth, he is free to concentrate solely on boxing, which wasn't always the case.

"I have no worries," he says. "I just come to the gym, do my job and go home. Everything else is taken care of."

A late starter in his boxing career, such has been his success that it feels like Green has been around much longer in the game than he really has. "I have only had twenty-two fights," he says. "People forget that. People forget that I have only been a professional for just over four years."

Australian Associated Press reported last week that Green had said his career as a serious title contender will be all but over if he loses to Anthony Mundine next year. Green makes a point of explaining to SecondsOut what he meant during that radio interview.

"There was a report in the paper that I said on 2KY that the career of the loser is over. That is just negative publicity," he said. "Who thinks about losing? Who is going to think that, in a sport where you might get knocked unconscious if you lose? Screw that. I'm confident of winning the fight. I answered the question I was asked and nipped it in the bud without going into it, but I don't think like that."

Green shakes his head about people thinking he is taking an easy fight against Garcia before facing Mundine.

"They don't just give the Mexican light heavyweight title away to anyone," he says.

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.

"The reports have been that Green and Mundine have picked sub-par opponents," said Green. "We haven't picked a sub-par opponent. We picked a guy who is one tough hombre. And can punch. And gets up off the canvas and knocks guys out. He has a hell of a lot of experience. We could have picked a much easier opponent. Simple as that. He has beaten five former world champions and it doesn't matter where they were when he beat them, he still beat them. You can't buy that experience.

"I want a test. I want a guy who is going to make me work and make me think. Boxing is about thinking. I am starting to learn that. It is not about brawling, going in there and trying to eat them up. I love doing that, but I have only had twenty-two fights. This guy is not a mug. It frustrates me how anyone could compare my opponent to Rico Chong Nee. He lost to a novice boxer in Gurkan Ozkan and he is a novice."

The bottom line is that for the long awaited Green vs. Mundine clash to go ahead in 2006, both men need to win this weekend. With the shadow of 30 year-old Mundine lurking around this promotion, many would believe that Green will be distracted from the task of facing Garcia.

"I honestly don't look at it like that at all," he replied. "I'm worried about Garcia. I haven't picked a guy who is just going to fall over. When you have got a guy like Kirino Garcia in front of you trying to take your head off, it is pretty easy not to think about other influences. I am a professional and I am mentally strong. I'd like to think I have the mental fortitude to be able to block out the Mundine fight, the Green-Mundine saga."

The plan this week is for Green and Mundine to have separate press conferences and weigh-ins. If everything goes to plan and both men win, the only time and the first time the two will be seen together is after their respective fights to hype their fight in March or April next year.

"I am not fighting Anthony Mundine this Sunday, so there is no reason to be seen with him," said Green. "I would be comfortable in his presence. We have never met and I don't know him. I don't appreciate his outlook on himself. He pleases himself way too much. I'm not scared of him one bit. I'm not intimidated. I'm not nervous about seeing him or fighting him. I am excited. Therefore, I don't want to waste any energy on being amicable in his presence. I am going into that ring to destroy the guy. I don't want to pass him in a hallway and have to be sweet. That's not me. I am professional and if need be, no problem. But I don't want to see him around. I don't want to have to talk to him. I don't want to exchange pleasantries. It is a fight, as simple as that."

Mundine has insisted on fighting last as the 'main event' on the card even though this fight will be held in Green's hometown. "It's a minor issue," says Green. "Whether I go out first or second, I'm still facing Kirino Garcia. As we all know, you can't take Mundine seriously. Someone who thinks that highly of himself, you just can't take him seriously."

The Challenge Stadium in Perth sold out within ten days of tickets going on sale for this fight before the opponents were even announced and a capacity crowd of over 5,500 people will be on hand when Green and Mundine fight on the same card together for the first time.

"The Perth people have been terrific to me," said Green. "I have been really, really happy. I have tried to repay their faith and loyalty by going back and fighting at home. They are just great people and I have been very lucky to have a lot of support in Australia. I'm just the same as everyone else. I just happen to be good at boxing. People appreciate what I do inside the ring and hopefully they appreciate how I conduct myself outside of the ring."

Next year looks like being a good one in the super middleweight division. IBF/IBO champion Jeff Lacy is slated to meet WBO champion Joe Calzaghe on March 4 at the MEN Arena in Manchester. Green and Mundine will finally meet and the winner will become the IBF No.1 contender to the winner of Lacy/Calzaghe.

"It is very interesting," says Green, thoughtfully. "Kudos to Jeff Lacy for travelling there to the UK for the fight. He is not afraid and he will destroy Calzaghe. He will blow him away. I am looking forward to watching it. People who won't fight out of their home country I have no respect for whatsoever. You look at (WBA champion) Mikkel Kessler, Lacy and myself. We have all taken the opportunity to fight overseas. Mundine too and I respect that. It is a huge difference. It takes a lot of skill and a lot of balls. Take Sven Ottke and Markus Beyer out of their comfort zone and see how they fight. I don't have the same amount of respect for them as I would with someone who travels outside of their own country and puts their world title on the line."

Paul Upham
Contributing Editor

Danny Green looking much stronger
Danny Green looking much stronger

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