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21 OCTOBER 2014

Where am I? Home Columns Paul Upham
 

For Danny and Fans, Everything is Green Again


Danny Green is back
Danny Green is back

By Paul Upham: The old saying, you don’t truly appreciate something until it is gone was probably the most appropriate way to describe Danny Green’s return to boxing on Sunday night April 28. The former WBA light heavyweight world champion appeared to be enjoying himself more than ever and the passionate fans who jammed into the Challenge Stadium arena in Perth only wanted to see more.

Eighteen months after his last fight, a win over Stipe Drews to claim the WBA belt and twelve months since his shock retirement decision over the Easter weekend in 2008, Green tore through South African Anthony Van Niekerk in only two rounds, knocking him out with a vintage right hand.

“I’m back!” Green told the roaring crowd. “I think if I had of fought King Kong tonight, it would have been the same result. I just felt great. My right hand was working. I felt relaxed in there.”

It was a standing ovation for Green as the 36 year-old boxer from Perth stood up on the ring ropes on all four sides and raised his fists in triumph towards the 6,000 strong crowd.

It was no over the top celebration after beating a journeyman like the 35 year-old South African. It was about getting a second chance - for the boxer and his fans.

There was a sea of green both inside and outside the stadium as the locals celebrated everything Danny Green. From shirts and caps to the large Green Machine speedboat parked at the carpark entry. Even Van Niekerk’s trunks’ sponsor amazingly had the colour and word green in it. The merchandise stands were doing a brisk business as everyone wanted a piece of the local hero. The finer details of a boxing promotion are never neglected by Green’s great friend and promoter of record Justin Manolikos - everything green was in its place. The crowd at their peak were roaring as loud as they had ever had at a Green fight.

There was a time in 2008 when many of those in the stadium would have thought that they would never get the chance to cheer so passionately for Green once more, so adamant was he that he would never fight again, regardless of the offer.

Green was quick to agree with the suggestion that both boxer and fans were appreciating the night even more now.

“A lot more. A hell of a lot more,” he said. “That is possibly one of the reasons why I did come back. I want to feel that love again. How about that stadium tonight? I think it sounded better than my world title win. Yes, it is a two way street. I can’t thank them enough. It is just crazy and I love them. It is the best feeling you can have in the ring.”

Back in her husband’s dressing room after the victory, Nina Green also agreed with the sentiments that Danny was revelling in something that he never expected to experience once more.

“I think he is an old man who got a second chance,” she said. “So he is enjoying it. Not many people get a second chance, so he is lucky.”

There was a small group of Green’s family and friends, including his brother Brendan and sister Sharni, in the large dressing room located under the tiered seating of the Challenge Stadium. An excited Chloe Green, the boxer’s seven year-old daughter, laughed with glee.

“I want you to all come back to our house,” said Nina Green.

The 2000 Australian Olympian looked ready for another fight after only two rounds of action. The blood was still pumping hard through his muscled arms. After a quick shower, he dressed in a black green machine t-shirt, blue jeans, black belt and aqua blue runners.

“I had a great time out there,” he said. “I can’t believe it is gone already. I’m happy. It would not have mattered who I fought tonight. I felt great. Something special.”

Trainer Angelo Hyder sat on a chair and sipped a cool drink. He looked pleased with his boxer’s performance.

“I’m rapt,” Hyder said, in his thick Australian drawl. “Extremely happy.”

Is Green a better boxer now since his retirement from the sport?

“I have no doubt,” replied Hyder. “Absolutely no doubt whatsoever. It just came to him. He was working on it and just setting it up. Rather than going out with no plan and just coming forward like a bulldog, like he used to. He wanted to set a couple of punches up and you saw the left hook. He set that up early.”

Expert observers such as Johnny Lewis felt in the past that Green wasted much energy in the ring being too tense. Not tonight. It was a more relaxed Green in the ring. Hyder has no doubt where it came from.

“The year off,” he explained. “A positive attitude. Danny is appreciating it more. Very much more. We made sure we are better because it is something that we agreed upon, that he would enjoy everything that we do.”

Former rugby league forward enforcer Steve Bowden, a long time sponsor, bodyguard and close friend of Green’s has a different insight into where the boxer learnt to loosen up.

“That comes from his time on Dancing with the Stars,” he observed, suggesting that Green’s performances on the hit Channel 7 television series in 2008, gave him something new that was lacking. “He was relaxed. He wasn’t as tight as he was previously. He had patience and he waited for the right time. Danny Green is on the comeback road and Anthony Mundine is at the end of that road.”

Told of Bowden’s comments, Green laughed like a man who has everything he could ever want in the world.

“It did help a lot,” he agreed. “In concentration it helped me a lot.”

If Green’s ultimate goal upon returning to boxing was to rematch Anthony Mundine and defeat him in Perth, surely he will have to be better than he was back in 2006?

“Yes,” agreed Hyder. “This is a new beginning for Danny. We are definitely going to see it.”

Malcolm Green and his wife Maria entered the dressing room to congratulate their son.

“I still get very nervous,” admitted Green’s father. “I was extremely nervous for this fight. You didn’t know if Danny’s speed was still there. I had watched tapes of Niekerk and he did have a pretty good overhand right. He scored a couple. I was pleased that Danny did the job quickly.”

“I was worried about whether he would be rusty,” continued Malcolm Green. “I got used to him being retired. Once he decides something, you have got to support him. You don’t want him going into the ring knowing he hasn’t got the support. It is only a nanosecond to defeat. If he is coming back for the right reasons, I don’t mind him boxing again. I just hope he doesn’t hurt his right hand again, because it was so good for him tonight. There are not too many people who could stand up to that punch.”

Angelo Hyder, Danny Green & Joe Cursio
Angelo Hyder, Danny Green & Joe Cursio

Family, friends and fans have had a taste of a Danny Green retirement and now they are going to savour every moment of his comeback. The boxer himself even more so.

“I’m happy with the fact that I got the job done and suffered no damage,” said Green. “But the way we trained, I wanted to go twenty rounds. I am a bit if a weirdo, because I am happy, elated, but I wanted to go ten real hard rounds. I feel great. The world champion (Stipe Drews) came here eighteen months ago and he felt the power and ran for twelve rounds. If he traded like this bloke did, he would have been knocked out.”

“It would not have mattered who I fought tonight,” continued Green. “It is not being arrogant. I was just that crisp and in that zone. In the first round, I didn’t do too much because I wanted to warm up again after we had stopped in the ring during the Last Post because I wanted to pay respect to the Diggers for Anzac Day. In the second round, I hit him with the left hook and that was it. I let the right hand go. I was watching Tommy Hearns all day today. The Motor City Cobra. I just wanted to let my right hand go. My jab was working and then I just let my right hand go from a distance. I executed it perfectly and that is what I was doing in training. I felt great. I feel I am a better fighter. I really do. I was slipping and looking.”

34 year-old Mundine may have his own time frame in mind for any rematch. With the smell of his comeback victory still in the air, Green was ready to take the fight at any time.

“I don’t care,” he said bluntly. “I will fight him now.”

Mundine won a comfortable points decision in their first fight in May 2006. What would the difference be in a rematch?

“My mental state,” replied Green. “My skills have improved a lot more. I am in tune with my training team. Van Niekerk went twelve hard rounds with Daniel Bruwer and I put him away in two. I am confident in my ability. The sparring I had helped me. From Zac Awad, Kerry Foley and Kurt Bahram. The boys kept me on my toes and I can’t thank them enough. Those three blokes, they have a big future ahead of them in boxing.”

For Angelo Hyder, Mundine would be making a big mistake by not fighting Green next after defeating Daniel Geale on May 27.

“Danny would fight Mundine tomorrow,” said Hyder. “No, we don’t need another fight. We would fight him tomorrow. I don’t think it will happen next. Realistically, Mundine won’t fight him till next year.”

“But why would Mundine fight Felix Sturm or Kelly Pavlik when he is only going to make much less than half the money he would get for fighting Danny Green?” questioned Hyder. “Why would you challenge Greeny for all that time to come out of retirement and then not want to fight him? It would be hard to understand. If Mundine was smart, he would fight Green next. The longer he waits, the better I am going to have Danny Green ready to beat him.”

“I want to relax and then fight again as soon as possible,” said Green, savouring his comeback win. “The best thing is that I am enjoying it. I can’t wait to get back in there. The appreciation is there. This is the last roll of the dice in my career. So I realise I want to enjoy this as much as I can.”

When Green announced his comeback to boxing after a year away from the sport, a Mundine rematch was his primary goal.

But then again, in boxing, rarely if ever does anything go to plan.

With Mundine challenging fellow Australian and then IBO middleweight world champion Daniel Geale on May 27, followed by his stated claim of possible big overseas fights with WBA middleweight champion Felix Sturm in Germany or a match with WBC/WBO world champion Kelly Pavlik in the USA, for the time being, the indications were that Green would be forced to wait for a rematch with The Man.

Originally, the plan was for Green to face former welterweight and middleweight world title challenger Shannan Taylor in Wollongong on August 5. A fight with Nader Hamdan in November was also pencilled in.

But an opportunity to bring pound for pound great Roy Jones Jr to Australia has now arisen and Green Machine Promotions have refocused its goals.

In 2003, after he defeated John Ruiz to win the WBA heavyweight world title, Jones sat atop the boxing world as the best fighter on the planet pound for pound. But after knockout losses to Antonio Tarver and Glen Johnson in 2004, Jones’ crown slipped and the now 40 year-old is four wins and four losses in his last eight fights. In his last major match, Jones lost a unanimous points decision to Welsh great Joe Calzaghe at Madison Square Garden, New York in November 2008.

Clearly looking for credible opponents he can still beat, Jones sees Green as someone who he can still handle, even in his advanced years.

The reality is that Jones can make more money fighting Green in Melbourne later in 2009, than he can command back in the USA at this time in his career.

It is an astute business move for Green and an official confirmation of a fight with Jones is expected at a press conference in Sydney this week on Wednesday June 17.

Green is likely to appear on the undercard of Roy Jones Jr vs. Jeff Lacy in the USA on August 15, before Jones Jr and Green meet in Melbourne on a date to be confirmed after the Australian Rules Football Grand Final on September 26.

Forget about Mundine-Green 2. Right now, it seems the Green Machine has only got his eyes fixed on Roy Jones Jr.


Paul Upham
Content Editor
Danny Green with daughter Chloe
Danny Green with daughter Chloe
Danny Green and friends
Danny Green and friends


All photos by Paul Upham / www.SecondsOut.com




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