By Paul Upham in Pyrmont: IBO cruiserweight boxing world champion Danny Green’s 21 July defence against come-backing fellow Australian Paul “Hurricane” Briggs has been moved to Perth after the NSW Combat Sports Authority declined to licence Briggs to fight.
“I am outraged,” said Green, who through his company Green Machine Promotions is also the promoter of the event, “and I am strongly urging the Premier of NSW to call an immediate inquiry into the incompetence of the Combat Sports Authority of NSW after they overrode medical fact and advice given by the top neurosurgeon at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital on the eligibility and fitness of Paul Briggs to compete in this bout.”
After twice losing to Tomasz Adamek on points in thrillers in challenging for the WBC light heavyweight world title in 2005 and 2006, Briggs retired from boxing in 2007, but renewed his passion for the sport when he worked as a head trainer on The Contender Australia television series on FOX8 in 2009/2010.
34 year-old Briggs 26-3 (18) is actually three years younger than Green. He has been training strongly under trainer Billy Hussein and looked to be in excellent physical condition at Friday’s 9 July press conference at Star City Casino.
“I am so angry. You have no idea,” said Briggs. “I was cleared, physically able to fight Hugo Garay at Madison Square Garden, three months before I retired (in 2007). The reason I retired was because of personal issues that were going on in my life at the time. Some imbecile newspaper reporter said I had neurological problems and talks about a sparring session I had where I was left gazing into space. Johnny Lewis rang me and asked, ‘where do these guys get this rubbish from?’”
Briggs stated that he was cleared to fight by neurosurgeon Dr Ahmed Mohammed and was checked recently by NSW Combat Sports Authority doctor Lou Lewis.
“Dr Lou told me that I am just not OK to fight, ‘you are sharp,’” said Briggs.
“It is interesting that the Authority’s own doctor wasn’t even present at the hearing on 6 July when they were given the medical evidence,” observed Green. “We supplied all of the medical evidence they asked for months ago. They decided to override the decision. I am just curious as to how these people think that they know more than a neurosurgeon and top medical experts at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, who have given Paul Briggs the OK to fight, almost five month ago. Physically, he is in fine condition to fight. He has not been given a bill of health in my estimate. He has been given a 100% emotional, physical and mentally stable bill which means he is fit to fight.”
A clearly angry Green added, “It just proves the NSW Combat Sports Authority and the shambolic and amateurish manner in which they conduct their affairs.”
Green and Briggs held a press conference at Star City Casino on 2 June to officially confirm their long awaited battle. The NSW Government, through their promotional arm Events NSW, tipped a significant six figure sum of money into the event to ensure it took place in NSW.
“NSW is not just the events capital of Australia,” said NSW Sport and Recreation Minister Kevin Greene at the time, “we are now the boxing capital as well.”
On Friday afternoon, the Minister’s office released a statement on the matter.
“This is disappointing for NSW boxing fans, like myself, but the decision made by the independent Combat Sports Authority is clear,” Greene was quoted. “They’ve announced they won’t approve the fight due to their concerns for what they describe as the health and welfare of Paul Briggs after his long absence from competitive boxing. This is an independent board of experts that includes a sports medical practitioner nominated by the Australian Sports Medicine Federation.”
However, the Australian newspaper’s reporter Peter Kogoy quoted NSW Combat Sports Authority chairman Mr Terry Hartmann on 10 July, “There may been a different outcome had we known that Dr Lou Lewis had cleared him (Briggs) to fight.”
“Its a shame,” 37 year-old Green 29-3 (26) said of the licence refusal, “but fortunately the Western Australian Boxing Commission, their doctor, once he was given the medical facts and advice we have given about Paul Briggs, gave us the all clear in literally one hour, there was no problem whatsoever, as we would expect anywhere else in the world.”
While they will now refocus on their fight at the Challenge Stadium in Perth, both Green and Briggs did not rule out legal action over the licence refusal.
“No one from the boxing commission in this imbecilic state,” said Briggs, “have rung me and said what tests I need to pass before they pass me physically fit to fight. I have had my lawyers speaking to me on the phone over the last 24 hours and saying there is one hell of a case here. It is restraint of trade. They are stopping me from making a living. Under what grounds? There are only a few people that understand the reasons as to why I retired. What was going on in my personal life. It had nothing to do with anything neurological.”
“It is pretty frustrating seeing that have taken it upon themselves to give the sport of boxing a black eye,” said Green. “They are supposed to be representing the sport. These are guys who are all newly represented and have never had any experience whatsoever in promoting, managing or anything to do with the fight game whatsoever. Legally, yes definitely, there are going to be legal ramifications because of income and revenue that is going to be lost from this fight because of their overriding opinion.”
All ticket-holders for the original Sydney Entertainment Centre fight date can receive a refund in full from their point of purchase.
Tickets for Green vs. Briggs at Challenge Stadium in Perth on Wednesday 21 July 2010 are expected to go on sale immediately.
The world title match will be televised live around Australia on MAIN EVENT and at participating FOX SPORTS Pub & Club venues.